Military Aviation

This video of a B-52 taking off in heavy crosswinds clearly shows why the BUFF needs outrigger wheels

Since the fuselage is so narrow, the “track” of the main landing gear is also fairly narrow, which means it isn’t very stable; it wouldn’t take much to tip over a B-52 if it didn’t have those outriggers!

Taken on Apr. 5, 2019 the impressive video in this post shows 3 B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers fighting heavy crosswinds to take off from RAF Fairford.

Noteworthy the B-52 has a crosswind landing gear system that aided the crew during windy conditions. According to a BUFF driver “you can’t slip the airplane very much because you’ll start to drag the wing, which is disastrous. So, they installed a cross-wind landing gear system that allowed the plane to be cranked up to 20 degrees off center.”

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The mighty BUFF also features the so called outrigger wheels, or just outriggers. Most aircraft that have a narrow main landing gear use them, including the AV-8 Harrier.

If you’ll notice, the B-52 has a fairly narrow fuselage, and the high-set wing is pretty far off the ground, so the only place they could put the main landing gear was inside the fuselage.

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However, since the fuselage is so narrow, the “track” of the main landing gear is also fairly narrow, which means it isn’t very stable; according to an interesting post appeared on Quora, it wouldn’t take much to tip over a B-52 if it didn’t have those outriggers!

The landing gear of the B-52 is of the same bicycle arrangement as employed on the B-47 but has four two-wheel bogies instead of the two bogies used on the earlier aircraft. As compared with their location on the B-47, the outrigger wheels are positioned much nearer the wingtip on the B-52. 

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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