Aviation History

VINTAGE PHOTOS HIGHLIGHT MILESTONES OF B-52 STRATOFORTRESS VERY FIRST PROTOTYPES

Current engineering analyses show the B-52’s life span to extend beyond the year 2040

The gorgeous, vintage photos in this post highlight some milestones achieved by the very first prototypes of the iconic B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber.

Noteworthy the picture on top of the article features the YB-52 (which was the second XB-52 modified with more operational equipment) taking off from the Rogers Dry Lake bed for an 11-hour basic radius test mission. The flight, which actually took place on Jul. 7, 1953, confirmed the bomber’s ability to take off with a heavy fuel load, fly more than 2,700 miles at combat altitude, conduct simulated combat maneuvers, and return.

The second image was used to celebrate the radius test mission too, but it is unknown if it is from the actual event.

The third photo instead was taken on Nov. 21, 1952 and shows the Boeing XB-52 Stratofortress first arrival at the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) for engine calibration and thrust measurement prior to Phase II evaluation. The new intercontinental bomber had made its first flight on Apr. 15 1952, in Seattle. As you can read in the caption of the photo “The XB-52 ‘Stratofortress’ was powered by eight Pratt & Whitney YJ57-P-3 axial flow turbojet engines. The speed, range, altitude, and bombload of the big bomber were all satisfactory.”

For more than 40 years, B-52 Stratofortresses have been the backbone of the manned strategic bomber force for the U.S.. The BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fucker as the B-52 is dubbed by its aircrews) 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 (JDAMs). Updated with modern technology the B-52 will be capable of delivering the full complement of joint developed weapons and will continue into the 21st century as an important element of our nation’s defenses. Current engineering analyses show the B-52’s life span to extend beyond the year 2040.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. B-52H Stratofortress 2nd BW, 20th BS, LA/60-0008 “Lucky Lady IV”. Barksdale AFB, LA

Photo credit: Edwards History Office / U.S. Air Force

Source: U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com

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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