Skip to comments.The YB-52 prototype, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, takes its first flight on April 15, 1952.
Posted on 04/15/2019 4:41:02 PM PDT by llevrok
On April 15, 1952, the huge YB-52 Stratofortress takes wing from Boeing Field. The plane surpasses anything then flying, with eight engines slung below swept wings measuring 185 feet from tip to tip. It is capable of carrying the largest nuclear devices available and one version is able to carry up to 30 tons of conventional weapons. The planes range initially is more than 5,000 miles and development of aerial refueling makes missions of up to 30 hours possible. Between 1954 and 1962, Boeing will manufacture more than 740 B-52s, first in Seattle and then Wichita, and scores of aircraft remain in active service.
The XB-52 Stratofortress prototype was rolled out in secret at Boeing Field on November 29, 1951. It did not fly until October 2, 1952. Thus the second prototype, the YB-52, was the first of this generation of aircraft to fly with its takeoff from Boeing Field on April 15, 1952.
The success -- or irony -- of the B-52 is that it never had to complete its primary mission: the dropping of a nuclear weapon in war. Rather, hundreds of aircraft remained aloft on rotating shifts to provide the Strategic Air Command with an assured means of retaliation in the event of a surprise nuclear attack by the Soviet Union or other power. The B-52, later augmented by intercontinental ballistic missiles and then by submarines capable of launching nuclear missiles, provided the first, sturdy leg of the three-pronged strategy of deterrence.
The B-52 saw combat in Vietnam, with several losses, delivering conventional bombs. It has also served as an important launch platform for experimental aircraft and spacecraft, including the X-15. Chiefly due to the failure of the North American B-1 swing-wing bomber to assume the B-52's key missions, the older but proven bomber (with many improvements and variants) remains on active duty as of 2019.
I wonder how it feels to be the pilot (or crew) of an aircraft that was flying before their parents were born?
I feel sure most of them will still be flying in 25 years from now.
My Great-grandfather was born in 1868, at the height of the Indian wars. Bison still covered the plains, cattle drives were just starting North out of Texas.
He lived long enough to see the B-52 go into service.
The BUFF is as old as me.
The kid that lived next door just graduated USAF Flight School. Got assigned to the Buff. Pretty cool. He has wanted to be a pilot since he was 13, at least.
Somebody probably said that day: “It’ll never last. Obsolete within a year. No one will remember the B-52 a couple of years from today.”
Happy birthday, BUFF!
If they’re still flying in 33 years,then they will have been in service for 100 years.
But, can it fly on just seven engines if one goes out?
I believe it can stay in the air with only 4 of the 8 running.
Impressive. He might have been aware of Custers demise at the Little Big Horn in 1876. What history making times.
Im fairly certain that the grandmother of the last B-52 pilot has yet to be born.
The original Wright flyer from Kitty Hawk would have still been flying in 1971 if it had the same longevity as the B-52.
Grandparents, not just parents anymore.
I remember those early B-52s.
They had a high tail fin and twin machine guns in the tail.
When Johnny comes marching home again HOORAW.The best cockpit scenes eva.
If it aint BOEING I AINT going.
They kept the prototype for years at Wright Paterson at the air force museum(the old one).they moved and had to cut it up.Cant save them all which is a shame.
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