This vehicle is known to have had a fair share of its iconic moments in its glory days, and until now, it still plays a critical role within the United States Air Force. This article will discuss the top 10 facts you should know about the B-52 Stratofortress, America’s legendary bomber aircraft.
1. PROVEN DURABILITY
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is known to be one of the oldest American strategic bomber planes. According to Wikipedia, the B-52 has been in service for the United States Air Force and NASA since the 1950s. This bomber aircraft was officially introduced in February of 1955 and had been in service for nearly 66 years. As of June 2019, 58 are in service, 18 in reserve, and about 12 in long-term storage. The United States Air Force expects that the last airplanes will be able to serve into the 2050s.
2. BIG UGLY FAT FELLA
Another fact about this plane is that its operators rarely use its official name. According to the National Interest blogs, the B-52 Stratofortress has become commonly referred to as the BUFF, or the Big Ugly Fat Fella. It was during Operation Arc Light where the B-52 got its “BUFF” name. USAF used the B-52 to bomb suspected hideouts of the Viet Cong insurgents in South Vietnam jungles.
3. POSSIBLE TERRIBLE ACCIDENT
There was a moment on January 24, 1961, where a B-52 plane almost nuked the entire Goldsboro, North Carolina. According to worldwarwings.com, a Stratofortress carried two Mark 39 nuclear bombs when the pilots lost control of the aircraft, resulting in the plane eventually breaking in mid-air and releasing the payload. According to the Air Force, the bombs did not detonate because the bombs had only completed five of six stages of its arming sequence.
4. WITHOUT A TAIL
There was a time when the B-52 Stratofortress flew without a tail. A tail in every aircraft is an essential component for their stability mid-flight. According to theavionist.com, the plane once lost its tails due to turbulence while flying over New Mexico. This incident occurred on January 10, 1964, when a B-52 flew for a test mission. The B-52 then managed to land safely six hours later.
5. EJECTION SYSTEM
Another interesting fact about the B-52 Stratofortress is its unique ejection system. Since operating the “BUFF” would need a five-person crew, two team members would need to work in the plane’s lower cabin. According to Bold Method blogs, the lower deck crew would eject downwards instead of upwards like other planes or fighter jets in case of an emergency.
6. ONE FUEL TANK
This aircraft’s wing design is crucial to its role. According to RealLifeLore2’s video, the B-52’s swept-wing design, which evolved from its initial straight-wing design, gives the Stratofortress the ability to fly effortlessly for thousands of miles without ever needing to refuel. The B-52 Stratofortress can currently fly at a range of 8,800 miles on one fuel tank while fully loaded with bombs and weapons.
7. AIRCRAFT SPECIFICATIONS
This bomber aircraft measures 159 feet and four inches in length, 40 feet, eight inches in height, and a wingspan of 185 feet. It also carries a heavy armament of 70,000 lbs worth of bombs, missiles, and mines. These features make the B-52 Stratofortress the World’s Largest Bomber, according to motoart.com. Also, it consists of an entire crew of five persons, including the pilot, copilot, weapon systems officer, navigator, and electronic warfare officer.
8. UNIQUE LANDING GEAR
Due to its 185-foot wingspan, the B-52 Stratofortress does not use the conventional takeoff or landing techniques used by most planes in the world. According to their website, Boeing engineers designed special landing gear that could align with the runway allowing special takeoffs and landings. This unique landing gear’s direction can separate from the aircraft’s path by as much as 20 degrees.
9. MOST EXPENSIVE FLIGHT
A Boeing B-52 Stratofortress costs around 84 million USD per unit. As stated on crewdaily.com, flying this aircraft for just an hour can cost 70,000 USD. That’s how much the United States Air Force spends for every mission of this Big Ugly Fat Fella.
Lastly, the B-52’s influence is on American pop culture. According to uso.org, a hairstyle called the “beehive” in the 1960s became famous and known as “the B-52.” The hairstyle had a cone-like appearance that resembled the distinctive nose of the B-52 plane. The band “The B-52’s” is also named after the hairstyle and the plane.
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