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U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52 Stratofortress Bomber

Our Tribute to the B-52

This section of Planes Of The Past is meant to be a tribute to those at Boeing who designed & built the B-52, the Air Force crews who fly her, and those who have worked tirelessly to preserve this groundbreaking airplane and its history.

YB-52 lands at Rogers Dry Lake in 1953 during flight testing
YB-52 lands at Rogers Dry Lake in 1953 during flight testing

B-52 Stratofortress History

In June of 1946, Boeing was issued a letter of contract for $1.7 million to build a full-scale mock-up of the new XB-52 and do preliminary engineering and testing. After considerable work between Boeing and the Air Force, the YB-52 first flew on April 15, 1952.

The eight-engine B-52A first flew in 1954, and the B model entered service in 1955. The first of 102 B-52H's was delivered to the Strategic Air Command in May 1961. Production lines were in Seattle and Wichita, Kansas.

The B-52 has now been in active service with the US Air Force since 1955, originally an integral part of the Strategic Air Command. It replaced the Convair B-36 Peacemaker as the Air Force's heavy bomber, and remains in service today.

Production Summary
B-52 Model
Number Built
B-52A
3
B-52B
50
B-52C
35
B-52D
170
B-52E
100
B-52F
89
B-52G
193
B-52H
102
Total
742

B-52 Stratofortress Capabilities

The B-52 is capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory. This includes gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided missiles and joint direct attack munitions.

The H model can carry up to 20 air launched cruise missiles. In addition, it can carry the conventional cruise missile that was launched in several contingencies during the 1990s, starting with Operation Desert Storm and culminating with Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Boeing B-52 Production History and Active Service

A total of 742 B-52s were built with the last, a B-52H S/N 61-0040, delivered in October 1962. 

About 85 B-52 aircraft are still on active duty. Only the H model is still in the Air Force inventory and is assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, N.D. and the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, La., which fall under Air Force Global Strike Command. The aircraft is also assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command's 307th Bomb Wing at Barksdale.

B-52 Stratofortress Specifications

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
B-52H in flight in the early 1960s

Wingspan: 185 feet
Length: 159 feet, 4 inches
Height: 40 feet, 8 inches
Weight: Approximately 185,000 pounds
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 488,000 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 312,197 pounds  
Payload: 70,000 pounds
Speed: 650 miles per hour (Mach 0.86)
Range: 8,800 miles
Ceiling: 50,000 feet

B-52 Surviving Aircraft

A total of 39 B-52 Superfortress aircraft have been preserved and are on display in aviation galleries and airparks in the United States. Photos of several of these are shown below.

B-52 Photographs by Planes of the Past

Boeing B-52D Stratofortress S/N 56-0612 at the Castle Air Museum
Boeing B-52D Stratofortress S/N 56-0612
B-52G Stratofortress, S/N 58-0183, at PIMA Air & Space Museum, Tucson, AZ
B-52G Stratofortress, S/N 58-0183
Nose of B-52G Stratofortress "Valkyrie", Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, AZ
Nose of B-52G Stratofortress "Valkyrie"
B-52D Stratofortress S/N 55-00067 at the Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, AZ
B-52D Stratofortress S/N 55-00067
B-52B Stratofortress S/N 0-20013, Albuquerque, New Mexico
B-52B Stratofortress S/N 0-20013 in Albuquerque
B-52D Stratofortress S/N 56-695 at the Charles B. Hall Airpark
at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
B-52 Stratofortress S/N 56-695 at the Charles B. Hall Airpark at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Boeing B-52D Stratofortress S/N 56-695 at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Boeing B-52D Stratofortress S/N 56-695 at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
B-52D Stratofortress S/N 56-695 at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
B-52 Stratofortress S/N 56-695 at the Charles B. Hall Airpark at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
NB-52A Stratofortress S/N 52-0003, "The High and Mighty", used by NASA in the X-15 test program,
at the Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, AZ
NB-52A Stratofortress S/N 52-0003, "The High and Mighty", used by NASA in the X-15 test program
NB-52B Stratofortress S/N 52-0008, North Gate, Edwards Air Force Base, California
Service with NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center
NB-52B Stratofortress S/N 52-0008, North Gate, Edwards Air Force Base, California
B-52G Stratofortress S/N 58-0191, Hill Aerospace Museum, Ogden, Utah
B-52G Stratofortress S/N 58-0191 at Hill AFB, Utah
B-52G Stratofortress "Bearin Arms", S/N 58-0191, Hill Aerospace Museum, Ogden, Utah
B-52G Stratofortress "Bearin Arms", S/N 58-0191
B-52G Stratofortress S/N 58-0191, Hill Aerospace Museum, Ogden, Utah
B-52G Stratofortress "Bearin Arms", S/N 58-0191
Rear view of B-52G Stratofortress S/N 58-0191 at the Hill Aerospace Museum at Hill AFB
Rear view of the B-52G Stratofortress "Bearin Arms", S/N 58-0191
B-52G Stratofortress S/N 58-0191, Hill Aerospace Museum, Ogden, Utah
B-52G Stratofortress "Bearin Arms", S/N 58-0191
B-52G Stratofortress S/N 58-0191, Hill Aerospace Museum, Ogden, Utah
Tail section of the B-52G Stratofortress "Bearin Arms", S/N 58-0191
B-52D, S/N 55-0085, at the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB, in Warner-Robins, Georgia
B-52D, S/N 55-0085 at Robins AFB, Georgia
B-52D Stratofortress, S/N 56-0629, at the Global Power Museum, Barksdale AFB, in Bossier City Louisiana
B-52D Stratofortress, S/N 56-0629
B-52G Stratofortress, S/N 57-6509, at the Barksdale Global Power Museum in Bossier City
B-52G Stratofortress, S/N 57-6509
B-52 Stratofortress 0185 "El Lobo II" at the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin AFB, Florida
B-52 Stratofortress 0185 "El Lobo II"
B-52 Stratofortress 0185 "El Lobo II" at the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin AFB, Florida
B-52 Stratofortress 0185 "El Lobo II"
B-52D Stratofortress, S/N 56-0657, South Dakota Air & Space Museum, Ellsworth Air Force Base, Rapid City, South Dakota
B-52D Stratofortress, S/N 56-0657 at the entrance to Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota
B-52D Stratofortress, S/N 56-0657, South Dakota Air & Space Museum, Ellsworth Air Force Base
B-52D Stratofortress, S/N 56-0657 at the entrance to Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota
Nose art "Hoosier Hot Shot" from a B-52G Stratofortress, at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona
Nose art "Hoosier Hot Shot" from a B-52G Stratofortress

Photos by Our Friends and Supporters

B-52D Stratofortress at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Washington
(photo by Michael Hoschouer)
B-52D Stratofortress at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Washington

USAF B-52 Stratofortress Photographs

Boeing XB-52 in test flight
Boeing XB-52 in test flight
Boeing YB-52 in test flight
Boeing YB-52 in test flight
Boeing RB-52B Stratofortress
Boeing RB-52B Stratofortress
Boeing B-52C Stratofortress
Boeing B-52C Stratofortress
U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52D Stratofortress S/N 550049
U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52D Stratofortress S/N 550049
Boeing B-52E Stratofortress S/N 560631
Boeing B-52E Stratofortress S/N 560631
USAF Boeing B-52F Stratofortress S/N 70162 on a bombing run
USAF Boeing B-52F Stratofortress S/N 70162 on a bombing run
Boeing B-52G Stratofortress
Boeing B-52G Stratofortress
Boeing B-52H takeoff
Boeing B-52H takeoff
Boeing B-52 in-air refueling by a KC-135 Stratotanker
Boeing B-52 in-air refueling by a KC-135 Stratotanker
Boeing B-52 in flight
Boeing B-52 in flight (photo by the U.S. Air Force)
Boeing B-52 static display at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs
Boeing B-52 static display at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs

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