Boeing B-52G/H Stratofortress

Boeing B-52H Stratofortress
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YOM: North Carolina. Country: United States of America. Region: North America. Crew on board: 8. Crew fatalities: 3. Pax on board: 0. Pax fatalities: 0. Other fatalities: 0.


Total fatalities: 3. Circumstances: A fuel leak occurred in the right wing while cruising at high altitude. The crew decided to divert to Seymour Johnson AFB for a safe landing but on final, the right wing detached.

B-52 Stratofortress Modeler's Online Reference

The airplane crashed in a huge explosion in a field located 12 miles from the runway threshold. Three crew members were killed while five others were injured. The aircraft was carrying two Mark 39 thermonuclear bombs that were later recovered. Four ADM Quails aircraft shaped decoys were added in the bomb bay. Many BG's would be sacrificed as part of the nuclear proliferation agreements between the United States and the Soviet Union beginning in while the surviving models were relegated to museum work. Production of G-models was handled by Wichita.

The BH model was first flown on March 6th, and introduced into service on May 9th, Major systems and subsystems were revised or improved as well and the 4 x Ammunition supply was 1, rounds. The BH went on to utilize cruise missiles the Skybolt missile was eventually cancelled before production , anti-ship missiles and unmanned drones in this fashion thanks to its heavy duty wing pylons.

Light duty pylons were added later between the two engine pods on either wings and retrofitted to earlier H- and G-models.

Low-level operations became another improvement of this model type. H-models now represent the only Stratofortress models in operational service. The plan was to convert 16 of the production G-models into this new platform though lack of funding nixed the program altogether - twice.

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Cold War Service The B performed a valuable deterrent role during the Cold War years, stationed for a time in "quick response" air patterns to provide for a rapid response to any Soviet nuclear attack. These aircraft formed the "Dirty Dozen".

The B is generally known more for her involvement and contributions in the Vietnam War. Her bombing ability proved unmatched in her thousands of sorties over Vietnam. First combat missions occurred via BF'ss on June 18th, BD models were also utilized and modified to take on even more of a combat load than F-models, whom they replaced. D-models made their presence known on April and became the standard Stratofortress of the war.

B-52 Stratofortress Capabilities

Boeing BH BH profile, circa Maximum speed: kn ( mph, 1, km/h). The B Stratofortress was America's first long-range, swept-wing heavy bomber . The turbofan powered BH, the final version of the B, made its first flight H-model bomber had been assigned to Minot Air Force Base, N.D.

D- and G-models participated in "Operation Linebacker II" 18th - 29th December - a non-stop, nearly two-week long, bombing campaign against Vietcong targets with ten Stratofortresses lost in the ensuing action. Originating from bases within the United States, Stratofortresses made their way to the other side of the globe to hit targets within Iraq. Later missions would see BG's originating from bases about the region for equally effective results. Their high-capacity bombing ability no doubt proved a tremendous psychological effect on Iraq army units and Stratofortresses could be called upon to complete both low-level and high-level sorties as needed.

Targets included bunkers, buildings of interest and troop concentrations. B's conducted the longest strike mission ever during the conflict, beginning from Barksdale AFB in Louisiana and covering some 35 hours of non-stop flight time before delivering lethal cruise missiles against Iraq targets. Stratofortress elements utilized their extensive loiter times and large payloads to offer on-the-spot assistance to ground forces, this through guided munition deliveries. Although other smaller multi-role aircraft would have sufficed in the role, nothing in the American inventory could truly match the B in terms of concentrated and quantitative firepower.

Carpet bombing suspected Taliban locations in the northern mountain areas were also the forte of B's over Afghanistan.

Historical Snapshot

Iraq The American invasion of Iraq was another modern theater for the B to showcase its worth to the modern air force. In the opening assault, Stratofortresses unleashed over cruise missiles on targets of opportunity throughout Iraq. No End to this Road Despite its long history, the United States Air Force - try as they might - have no immediate plans to retire this beast any time soon. Over the years, the B faced threats of replacement from the likes of the ill-fated North American Valkyrie, the supersonic Rockwell B-1 Lancer and the Northrop B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. Though the B-1 and B-2 bombers entered production in some quantity, their real strength remained in their ability to deliver precision payloads while utilizing speed or stealth practices to avoid enemy air defenses.

The B remains potent today because it can be utilized to terrific effect after these enemy air defenses have been vanquished - as shown in Persian Gulf , in the war in Afghanistan and finally in the invasion of Iraq. Modernization and refurbish programs have no doubt played a role in keeping the Stratofortress relevant these past decades and the intention is to keep it as such for decades to come.


According to the USAF, it is expected that the B can remain in service well up to , which is an astonishing thought given that the aircraft was a design first flown in the 's. As of this writing, the Air Force maintains approximately 76 active and 20 reserve B's from the total that were produced.

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Production of all B's lasted from through and handled at the Boeing Seattle, Washington and Wichita, Kansas plants, marking some 47 years since the last Stratofortress rolled off of the assembly lines. Notable Records It is easy for one to forget that this massive aircraft was a record setter in its day. A world air speed record was set on September 26th, , in a BD reaching The same day netted another air speed record of On December 14th, , a BG set a world air distance record by traveling 10, According to Boeing, this single flight alone broke some 11 speed and distance records.

Program Updates December - In an effort to keep the BH fleet 76 aircraft in all viable for the challenges of the next decade, the United States Air Force is set to undertake a program through Boeing which will see the line re-engined. The work is tentatively scheduled to begin no sooner than The current TF33 engines in use will not be supported beyond