B-52 Bomber


b-52_hero_lrg_01_1280x720.jpgThe B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber designed and built by Boeing and operated by the U.S. Air Force (USAF).

Beginning with the successful contract bid on 5 June 1946, the B-52 design evolved from a straight-wing aircraft powered by six turboprop engines to the final prototype YB-52 with eight turbojet engines and swept wings. The aircraft first flew on 15 April 1952 with “Tex” Johnston as pilot.  Built to carry nuclear weapons for Cold War-era deterrence missions, the B-52 Stratofortress replaced the Convair B-36. Although a veteran of a number of wars, the Stratofortress has dropped only conventional munitions in combat. The B-52 carries up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of weapons.  Its Stratofortress name is rarely used outside of official contexts; it has been referred to by Air Force personnel as the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fellow).

Free Report

The B-52 has been in active service with the USAF since 1955. The bombers flew under the Strategic Air Command (SAC) until it was disestablished in 1992 and its aircraft absorbed into the Air Combat Command (ACC). This remained the case until February 2010 when all B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit aircraft were transferred from ACC to the recently established Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). Superior performance at high subsonic speeds and relatively low operating costs have kept the B-52 in service despite the advent of later aircraft, including the Mach-3 North American XB-70 Val Kyrie, the supersonic Rockwell B-1B Lancer, and the stealthy Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit. The B-52 marked its 50th anniversary of continuous service with its original primary operator in 2005. (Other aircraft with similarly long service include the English Electric Canberra, the Tupolev Tu-95, the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, and the Lockheed U-2.)

General Characteristics of the B-52 Bomber

  • Crew: 5 (pilot, copilot, radar navigator (bombardier), navigator, and electronic warfare officer)
  • Length: 159 ft 4 in (48.5 m)
  • Wingspan: 185 ft (56.4 m)
  • Height: 40 ft 8 in (12.4 m)
  • Wing area: 4,000 sqâ€?ft (370 m²)
  • Airfoil: NACA 63A219.3 mod root, NACA 65A209.5 tip
  • Empty weight: 185,000 lb (83,250 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 265,000 lb (120,000 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 488,000 lb (220,000 kg)
  • Power plant: 8Ã? Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3/103 turbofans, 17,000 lbf (76 kN) each
  • Fuel capacity: 47,975 U.S. gal (39,948 imp gal; 181,610 L)
  • Zero-lift drag coefficient: 0.0119 (estimated)
  • Drag area: 47.60 sq ft (4.42 m²)
  • Aspect ratio: 8.56

B-52 Bomber Performance

  • Maximum speed: 560 kt (650 mph, 1,047 km/h)
  • Combat radius: 4,480 mi (3,890 NM, 7,210 km)
  • Ferry range: 10,145 mi (8,764 nm, 16,232 km)
  • Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: 6,270 ft/min (31.85 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 120 lb/ft² (586 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.31
  • Lift-to-drag ratio: 21.5 (estimated)

B-52 Bomber Armament

  • Guns: 1Ã? 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan cannon originally mounted in a remote controlled tail turret on the H-model, removed from all current operational aircraft in 1991
  • Bombs: Approximately 70,000 lb (31,500 kg) mixed ordnance; bombs, mines, missiles, in various configurations

B-52 Bomber Avionics

  • Electro-optical viewing system that uses platinum silicide forward-looking infrared and high-resolution low-light-level television sensors
  • Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod