Skip to comments.B-52 celebrates 60 Years
Posted on 04/11/2012 8:58:30 PM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
B-52 celebrates 60 Years
by Staff Sgt. Brian Stives and Megan Meyer
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs
4/10/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Air Force Global Strike Command will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first flight of the B-52 Stratofortress on April 15, 1952. This flight was made by the YB-52 prototype in Seattle.
Air Force Global Strike Command will commemorate the airframe's anniversary with events centered around the theme: "The B-52: An Icon of American Airpower."
During the celebratory campaign, AFGSC will recognize the heritage and accomplishments of the B-52 and the people - both past and present - responsible for the development, acquisition, operation, maintenance and security of the weapon system.
The B-52's long and rich heritage is illustrated by stories of families who have up to three generations of Airmen who worked on the B-52, such as 1st Lt. Daniel Welch, a B-52 co-pilot at Minot. Welch is a third-generation crew member on the airframe.
According to Welch, his grandfather flew every B-52 model and commanded Welch's current squadron at Minot, the 23rd Bomb Squadron. Welch's father was also a B-52 crew member during his time in the Air Force.
Through the course of the year, the Command will highlight the history of deterrence and combat capabilities the B-52 has provided through its distinguished career, in conflicts from Vietnam to Operation Enduring Freedom.
Some accomplishments to be highlighted throughout the year include:
April 15, 1952 - The first flight of the YB-52 Stratofortress will be commemorated with a long-duration flight from AFGSC Headquarters at Barksdale.
May 10 through Oct. 23, 1972 - Operation Linebacker - Linebacker was the first continuous bombing effort conducted against North Vietnam since the bombing halt instituted by President Lyndon B. Johnson in November 1968.
June 18, 1965 - Operation Arc Light - The first use of the B-52D Stratofortress as a conventional bomber from bases in the U.S. to Guam to support ground combat operations in Vietnam.
Aug. 2, 1994 - B-52's first round-the-world bombing mission.
Oct. 26, 1962 - Strategic Air Command received the last B-52 from production line
Dec. 18 through 29, 1972 - Operation Linebacker II - This operation saw the largest heavy bomber strikes launched by the U.S. Air Force since the end of World War II.
Speaking as someone who knows absolutely nothing about airplanes (and feel free to criticize) - shouldn’t we have something newer/better by now?
Why haven’t all these been replaced by the B-2?
Delivering the goods since 1952!
Computers apparently can’t beat a well handled sliderule.
And it seems like just yesterday they were singing “Rock Lobster.”
The B1 and B2 were pretty good — but you have to face physics. Thrust to weight to capacity to speed eventually are variables that can only be tweaked.
We had in the USA in that era the aircraft equivalent of the Founding Fathers of the USA. People who grasped physics and engineering and took them to their limits — in a very short time.
After a certain point, everything is incremental until a fundamental change is found (like anti-gravity).
For the same reason, the DC-3 is still flying: Damned good design. I once worked near Wichita Fllls, TX, Every day going to work I would drive past the B-52s lined up on the runway at Shepard AFB. Man what power they exuded. And the men flying them were the elite of the USAF.
IIRC, it would be too expensive to replace the B-52 with a new, similar airplane when these ones just keep going.
I suspect that replacing with the B-1 Lancer (the "Bone") makes more sense than replacing with the B-2, when it gets to that. I also suspect that there are perpetual Pentagon committees debating this topic on an ongoing basis.
We have a fairly large B1B Lancer force of bombers, but very few B2s. So far nothing that can equal the all around capability of the B52. They have all been upgraded electronically and in other ways. What we need is a new bomber that performs like the B52, with a reasonable cost.
As in the translation from sail to steam, and the development of the battleship ending with the likes of the Missouri. People do have a magical notion of physics, but we are still building on the physics of a hundred years ago.
In contrast, the B-2 has finicky stealth coatings that make it absurdly expensive to fly and maintain, it carries a much smaller conventional bomb load; and, with only 20 B-2s available, it is best reserved for missions that require stealth.
In effect, the B-2 is the shiny new luxury car that you keep in the garage and drive only on special occasions, while the B-52 is the old SUV that you use everyday because of its size and versatility.
The B-1b Lancer was supposed to replace it. It can carry twice the ordnance payload and fly 327mph faster than the B-52 at their top speeds.
The B-2 stealth bomber was also supposed to replace it.
Good history. The B-52 was the end product of twenty years of engineering. Some of the engineers who worked on the first Boeing bombers undoubtedly contributed to the B-52. As my dad said, no substitute for experience, and when they retired they were replaced by men who had never got their clothes dirty.
When did they produce the last B-52s?
The year before I was born, 1962 was the last production year.
Wiki has a nice graphic on b-52 models v production year. The H models (last ones produced) were made in 61-63. They made just over a hundred of the Hs.
I take it back! It WAS yesterday!
(aren’t you supposed to star on Lobsterman or some other Deadliest Catch derivative...?)
>>As in the translation from sail to steam, and the development of the battleship ending with the likes of the Missouri. People do have a magical notion of physics, but we are still building on the physics of a hundred years ago.
Yes we are, but you can see other comments on the downsides.
Gravity is 32 f/s^2 — until about 100 years ago, it was impossible to overcome things like friction, aerodynamics, etc.
Look at the SR-71. Given current knowledge of physics and engineering, there will never be a better plane. It exactly balanced all the known forces on a razor’s edge.
I am not saying there won’t be something better someday. I am saying that we pushed the envelope as close to the edge that we need a new fundamental change to overcome the diminishing returns level we have hit.
But I agree that a lot of it is will. We sent men to the moon using 1/1000 of the computing power in your smartphone. Now, we walk away from space travel saying “it is too hard.”
I am giving credit where credit is due and pointing out the distance between, say, a B-24 and a B-52.
But it frustrates me as well that we have stopped pushing (see the political destruction of the F-35 and the political knife in the back of the F-22).
The B.U.F.F is my lifetime favorite. Just a big heap of awesomeness.
A fading symbol of the land of my birth.
Back in the mid 60s, I worked at Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota. One of our jobs was located next to the runway fence. To see those 52s doing touch and goes was awe inspiring. The power as they accelerated (at a seemingly impossible angle) was chill producing.
Thanks - I didn’t know any of that.
The B-52 was built during the era of the Cold War fighting the Red Menace. As a result, over 700 of them were built.
Subsequent aircraft such as the B-1B and the B-2A were built to replace the B-52 in the most critical roles of nuclear deterrent, but they were very expensive.
With so many B-52s in inventory, they can be used very cheaply where payload is more important than deep penetration over hostile territory.
I believe we're down to under 100 active B-52s, so they all will eventually wear out, but no need to replace them all if they're still flyable and can perform a certain mission at a lower cost than buying a new aircraft.
War gives urgency to things. The story of the B-29 is instructive. It went to drawing board to operational in about five years. A light year ahead of the B-17. Much the same for the P.51. The Germans leap=frogged all this with the jet. Thank God that Hitler rushed the invasion of the Soviet Union. With two more years to build up and improve his arsenal, I am pretty sure that Goering would have had had operational jets in the skies. We would have still be fighting that war in 1950.