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The 60-Year History of the B-52 Stratofortress

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When General Nathan Twining, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force from 1953 to 1957, called the Boeing B-52 “the long rifle of the air age” shortly after it entered service on June 29, 1955, no one imagined that the eight-engine, 390,000-pound bomber would still be operational 60 years later. (gearpatrol.com) さらに...

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preacher1
It is an awe inspiring sight to stop at the North end of KBAD and watch one on a long straight in final for 15, with everything dragging, and if you are at the little git n go across I 20, they come across your top.
j3jm
The common pronunciation of the last word in BUFF was not "fellow".
preacher1
Nope!! LOL, kinda like the rear end device on a freight train now affectionately known as FRED. Officially Federal Rear End Device or something to that effect but to the railroad men it's just a F%^&*() red light
xtoler
We called the C5 FRED. LOL
GolfSierra
One last memory, while working Local in the tower one afternoon. I order a Buff to the "HOLD Short Line", when the AC rolled over it and on too the active rwy, I advised the pilot of the situation and to my amazement he activated the reverse thursters and backed that sucker up to the proper position. Whoda thunk it?
preacher1
Thrust reverse on a BUFF? How come that big drag chute?
edboock52
Ed Boock 3
The BUFF is still getting it done.
GolfSierra
While stationed at now deactivated Wurtsmith AFB, as an ATCer, They'ed fly the Buffs in MITO launches. Seeing these lumbering behemoths taking off in quick order with 8 engines puffing out thick black smoke, It didn't take long before the sky was no longer visible. Followed shortly after by KC 135s made for quite a memory.
preacher1
Out at Roswell at the old Walker AFB, it was so hot, even with that long runway, on non alert sorties, tankers would go off first because the BUFF's had to be so light on fuel if they had an armament load.
MIKESWICK
I closed down Kincheloe in the mid 70's - remember recovering them in the middle of the winter they were not so glamorous back then
preacher1
Mark, refresh my memory. Where was Wurtsmith?
olddog864
God bless the Old Dog
cnault2
Worked 18 years maintenance at KBAD on G's and H-models as Bomb-Navigation Systems Spec, Expeditor and Pro Super. Never has been thrust reversers on B-52 of any model.
Moviela
If President Stompy Feet would make a decision that for once favors America in the Middle East and use the B52’s to carpet bomb the ISIS belligerent’s, they may suddenly decide camel herding is once again a worthwhile profession.

A fly by of Putin's palace might also have the same effect they had on Khrushchev when he thought no one was looking and parked missiles in Cuba.
jdriskell
Sounds like you are in favor of starting WWIII. If you are serious, you need help!
BSJ
Silly rabbit. WWIII has already started...
MIKESWICK
Putin so far has called every bluff we have thrown at him so shame on us -
preacher1
Well, he has sent the Bears poking at the Northwest; wonder what he would do if we did send a few his way.
joelwiley
Right, if he's serious, he can't do it alone. Are you volunteering to help?
flytiger
In the early sixties, BUFFS and tankers scrambling fro Carswell flew over the parking lot of the Western Hills motel. Each BUFF was accompanied by two tankers, all with water J57's with water injection. MITO was BUFF, tanker, tanker, repeat.
As noted by others, all those wet J57's created lots of smoke and noise, and when it was hot ( when isn't it hot in Texas? ) rate of climb was imperceptible.
BernardGaffney
The things I remember about them were the contrails high over the DMZ. Bringing fear to those little bas***ds, just by being there.
flytiger
Typos in my posts: scrambling FROM Carswell, first use of the word water should be deleted, I second post aircraft MANUFACTURERS
JBCallahan
Given the current congressional budget criticism for the high cost per airplane for new planes, what is the total money (in todays dollars) spent on buying and upgrading the B-52 over its lifetime divided by the total number of current operational units. My guess is that it way over a billon dollars per plane.

We need new, combat capable bombers, not make believe capable bomber force.
joelwiley
You need to consider the lifetime performance of the platform and the reasons units dropped out of the inventory in your cost-analysis. On the benefit side, how do you monetize deterrence- how do you put a dollar value on an event that did not happen because a BUF would spoil your party?
JBCallahan
Would a new bomber not have deterrence? Does congress discount the program cost for expected airplane losses? Has the B-52 actually had to use the retrofit systems in actual combat against an enemy for which the feature was installed, e.g. active fighter force, modern SAM force, or stealth? Would it work as well as a new bomber designed for these arenas? Would you rather be flying a B-52 or a B-2 over eastern Ukraine or anywhere in Russia?
preacher1
Those were not the only things that the new systems were installed for. They used the cruise missles and conventional bombs in the middle East with impunity. Some came from all the way across just like the B-2's did and some did TDY at Diego Garcia but again, they just all went in in the early Desert storm and then back again into Iraq and Afghanistan, just loitering over station, with missiles into hotspots and bombs on the other. Unmerciful was the term used by enemy soldiers that survived
joelwiley
Were you referring to a hypothetical 'new bomber', the current F-35 jobs-program-cum-porkbarrel, or some other bombing platform?
preacher1
You know, this all takes tis thread way off topic, but I just can't understand it. They cancelled a big end of the F22 order because it got so expensive; same thing on the B2's, yet it is full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes on the F35. Boy Lockheed has a good Lobby.
joelwiley
Off-topic: Fairy god senators, and spreading contracts around to a majority of states.
Everybody gets a piece of the action, and Lockheed gets a piece of each of those pieces.
preacher1
Yeah, if the BUFF was built by Lockheed instead of Boeing, we'd have a squadron on about any base that had a Christmas tree, and still have SAC and looking glass going just to show the world we could, with the Federal Reserve printing out money to cover the cost and everybody would be dancing in the street.
preacher1
Of course, on the reality side, if it were built by Lockheed, it probably wouldn't be flying 60 years, but then that'd be OK too cause we'd just build some more and put more people to work.
xtoler
The C5 was quite impressive. But it got old quick. We had a joke back then. What's the difference between the C5 and her crew? At least when the engines are shut down it quits whining. I worked ATOC at Mildenhall and used the 135's quite a bit to airlift our backlog of pax and cargo. Hat's off to the SAC guys for looking out for my MAC A1C self back then.
joelwiley
Before they closed Mather AFB (now KMHR), they'd fly over the house on final. I'd swear some of them ended up with a few oak leaves in the undercarriage going over last hill!
PegLegGuy
.
In the movie "A Gathering of Eagles" there is a great scene of B-52's taking off.

Rock Hudson, the Wing Commander, and Rod Taylor, the Vice, standing at the end of the

runway watching their BUFF's taking off for the beginning of their ORI.

Nothing but smoke, as black as coal!!!

Great scene.


PegLegGuy


.
PegLegGuy
.
Clip of a MITO from "A Gathering of Eagles":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq6Hpxyrhyo


PegLeg

.
preacher1
Until watching this, I had really forgotten just how much smoke those things would generate.
xtoler
My first shirt and group commander told me some stories about Vietnam. I volunteered to go to Saudi during Dessert Shield. They pretty much talked my gung ho butt from going. A lot of my senior enlisted guys were vets from Vietnam. They were not enthused about Dessert Shield/Storm.
preacher1
I can't say as I blame them. 'Nam was enough to last awhile. After 'Nam and South Korea, I was ready to come to the house and them orders saying to McChord or separation were the most beautiful things I had seen in a good while. My rotation date was not til the end of February but it is simply amazing what a fifth of whiskey and a steak dinner will do getting you processed and out early.
MIKESWICK
During Linebacker II I was on Guam three ship cells every 15 minutes - last bird in the MITO struggling for oxygen to get airborne
dwells950
A great article.
xtoler
The 141B and C5 had thrust reversers. I remember being at MHZ/EGUN and a 141 was parked wrong on a hardstand. The pilot threw it in reverse and problem solved. I didn't know the older 135's had chutes though.
preacher1
I forgot about the 141 and never did see a C5 up close. I got out in Feb. 72, and 135's at that time had chutes
rkpayne51
Got to see at least 6 BUF's on the ramp of Barksdale AFB back in 2002. Also had one doing touch and go's. Distinctive sound. You know a B52 when you here one.
RetAF
RetAF 1
Historically speaking, when the last "B anything" goes to the boneyard a KC135 will fly in and bring the crew back home.

There are more KC135s (earliest were the 1955's which I flew) that BUFs still flying.

Yes, I typed "BUFF" as with one "F" which is what we called them back in the 60s. They "stole" "BUFF" from the Jolly Green community which used it before.
hiflier32
ric lang 1
You're right. Big ugly fu.... was the designator when I was at Anderson, flying sideways in these things in the late 60s................When I think back on things like this that happened in my life, I would do it all over again!
preacher1
Yeah, this BUFF ain't really hit the air until the last 3-4 years. ANG 135 crew out of Hickam in Honolulu had to have a medic on board to go into a combat zone('Nam). They'd stop at Kunsan, S.Korea and pick one of us up, sortie down filling F-4's, RON at Cam Rhan Bay or DaNang and sortie back out. That was in 71. They been around a long time.
hiflier32
ric lang 1
Oh, and by the way.....Not that I don't appreciate all the current "heros" bleeding and dying in all those foreign places so that I can live a safe life here in the USA, but I don't recall having any civilians at the airports or train stations throwing flowers and kisses at me when I got back, but a LOT of spit! Oh well.....fu.. it!
preacher1
You didn't corner the market on that spit. They were still giving it away in early 72
preacher1
It got so bad up at SeaTac that they started taking the buses and cabs from McChord & Ft Lewis around on the tarmac to unload and Military authorized civvies for travel
baja463
Bill A 1
To those of us who never flew this great bird, this was an interesting first-person account in 2 parts: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/09/1168141/-Flying-the-B-52-Part-1
FLGeographer
I grew up near Castle AFB in CA where they trained in the 60's and 70's. Used to watch them come over with the wings bowed. Locally, everyone would just pause their conversations when one went over, and resume them like nothing happened. We also have a fantastic oil painting of one in flight that had been given to my late father-in-law by the 416 SHS (SAC) Hospital at Griffis AFB in NY. It's over our bed.
preacher1
I wonder if they ever kept track of how many they lost with the Elephant walks and MITO launches
joelwiley
Among others, B-52G tail# 57-6482 crashed after take-off frm Mather, 23 Dec 1982. I remember wondering if it had nuclear ordinance aboard when I first heard then news.
MITO following a B-52H
http://b52stratofortressassociation.yuku.com/topic/52
zubelster
No thrust reversers on a "D" model BUFF. See link below to 1968 Kadena accident report.
http://www.madracki.com/usarmyhawk/pdf/USAF%20ACCIDENT%20REPORT.pdf
preacher1
I can't remember TR's on any of them. Repacking them chutes kept the FMS boys in business. Come to think of it, you don't see TR's on a lot if not most Military stuff. Older 135's and all the F-4's had chutes and/or hooks.
zubelster
Word was the fire was caused by overheated brakes and leaking hydraulic fluid. BUFF came to a stop about 100 yards from the base perimeter fence. Don't recall the length of Kadena's runway but I'm guessing around 12,000 ft.
phylspilot
Really? Amazing as the Buff never had thrust reversers.
svancleavemd
Got to see several do touch and go at Ellsworth AFB last month. Then one landed pulling it's drogue chute. Very impressive!
zubelster
The biggest bang I ever heard was at Kadena AFB Okinawa one early morning in 1968 when a BUFF loaded with 100 500-lb bombs headed for North Vietnam aborted take-off; caught fire and blew up after smoldering for half an hour. Nobody got hurt, but at one mile from ground zero that blast went on for ten seconds.
hdominguez
And great movies footage too! Dr. Strangelove my fav.
s2v8377
s2v8377 1
Excellent article, thank you for posting!!!
ColinSeftel
Wouldn't it make sense to re-engine them with more efficient engines?
flytiger
Pratt and GE have both been proposing that for decades. The AF and aircraft are more interested in new toys.
preacher1
You know, you would think that somebody would notice that they have well outlived the B2's for which w spent so much yet will drone on into the future, doing whatever they are called upon to do. Everyone makes a big deal that that the B-2's did the mid-east and back in a single mission but they don't get any print about the BUFF"S doing basically the same thing. The Buff's will outlive the B-2 just as the F-15 and 18 outlived the 117, and we will still be able to blow hell out of anyone we choose by conventional or nuclear means without either one of them and sure as hell won't need the F35 to help.
Just my humble opinion.
hiflier32
ric lang 0
Preacher.....Your comment reminds me of the comedy routine done by George Carlin a few years ago. He said: "We're the United States. Look out! If you're brown, black or yellow, we're gonna bomb the sh.. out of you!
GolfSierra
Wurtsmith AFB was located near Oscoda, MI.

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