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Upgrades point B-52 to the distant horizon

New Electronics for this remarkable, versatile aircraft ( More...

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preacher1 3
I know it was out of necessity because of size, but the fact that the wheels and landing configuration are separate looks to me like it would be the best thing since cotton candy; I wish they would do it on some Civilian Aircraft. to set your wheels on the centerline and configure the aircraft up to, I believe,45 degrees. Looks like it would beat the heck out of a full crab, kicking back to heading and praying at the last minute. Used to ramp right beside these on the ground in 'Nam. It is still a thrill to stop alongside I20 in Bossier Cy, LA and watch them do long, strait in finals to Barksdale. So low, so slow, and everything dragging
Josh Zylks 1
That section of I20 needs an observation lane so you can stop and watch! They catch my attention every time I pass through there.
preacher1 1
Yeah, I forget the exit number but there is a convenience store right there at the North end that you can generally watch from and get a coke too. Don't remember exactly where but you can take that loop to the North and have a good view of them too, but they are higher up there.
Bill A 2
Stationed at Loring with the 42nd BW in 1961-64 ... Newlywed and the first time one of these big beautiful babies comes over the house she says: "WHAT was that??" I reply: "Just the sound of peace, honey."

50 years later and still married, she sees a B52 the other day and says to me: "There's the sound of peace."
Jason Feldman 3
I can't think of anything else, and I mean ANYTHING else that is still working in excellent shape this long. We need to engineer everything we make like we did the B-52.

Everything else is designed with only one purpose - Planned Obsolescence

Then again, our economy would crumble if we purchased only one car, one fridge, one radio, one television. In the US our economy is based on consumption. At that consumption comes at such a huge cost to us. So many people have small economy cars with huge payments because they had to roll in the previous cars debt and finance it over 5, 6, even 7 years now. Its sad!

I used to think that other nations give us a hard time about our consumption - but I'm starting to think they are mocking us instead. We have found ourselves living lower quality of life year after year - due to debt. The average person in this country isn't all that knowledgable regarding finance despite the one semester long "home economics" course that supposedly prepares you for life. Im not talking about professionals with an advanced education, but the rest of the nation - the vast majority. They make so little compared to us and they pay the most for everything because they pile on the debt just to "keep up with the Jones's." When someone making a solid 100K buys a 20K car he will pay cash, but someone making 18k will buy the same car for maybe 30k because their credit history and income don't seem like a safe investment so the interest rate is higher.

If we on the other hand started manufacturing again, and exporting like we used to - and building everything like we have the B-52 - we would be doing well again. And manufacturing now is definitely possible than it ever has been. The weaker our dollar is the better it is for exporting products and services to other nations. When the dollar is strong we can't sell nearly anything.
AB1946 2
An incredible airplane! I've posted a photo of one at KMCO on static display. IT's awesome to see one close up. This airplane was stationed in Orlando.
Karl Scribner 2
A long time past I used to vacation at a cottage on Lake Huron a few miles North of Oscoda, MI where Wurtsmith AFB was located. I would sit on the beach and watch the B-52s and KC-135s go out down wind, turn to base then make their approaches on the main E-W runway.
Terry Isom 2
"The plane’s computers are only as powerful as the original PCs in the early 1980s." This is true. The Space Shuttle's computers date back to the late '60's-early '70's. Yet they performed flawlessly time & time again. The shuttle had many upgrades also; but, the old computers were used till the end for the launch & re-entry. It was always re-assuring to hear that rumble from several miles away at anytime of the day or night and know these were 'friendlies' at DYS. I love the 'BUFF's and have watched them most of my 50+ years. They are still awesome! I hope our government doesn't cut these upgrades as our B-1's are shrinking at an alarming rate! Thanks for the article.
Randy Michel 2
Its an awesome, effective airplane, but how much longer can we keep flying them? The AF and MX crews have done some amazing things keeping the fleet flying, but they have to be worn out +20 years, plus there aren't as many as there should be to maintain a stronger nuclear deterrent. Are they like DC-9's where they can fly forever? Back in the 60's General LeMay was lobbying for a B-52 replacement to be put into service quickly before the BUFF's fall out of the sky and we're 50 years past that mandate.
siriusloon 2
Airliners only make money by flying, so their annual flying rate is far, far higher than a B-52's. They may be old chronologically, but the structure is sound and the systems have been updated many times. Each time a proposal comes around to re-engine them (usually with four big turbofans instead of the current eight low-bypass turbofans), they do an airframe life expectancy survey and at current usage levels, they can still be in service until at least 2045. Some of those determinations were made when the B-52 was still employed in the low-level nuclear penetration role, which imposed higher stress on the airframe. Long transits to the sandbox and loitering in the "bomb truck" role are much easier on the old girl.

By the way, LeMay's time as SAC CinC ended in June 1957. H models were still in the future at that time and they were still arriving from the factory in 1961/62. You may be thinking of his concerns about the B-47, which had serious wingspar issues that grounded the fleet for a while in the 1950s.
CosmosKidd 2
Grew up outside of Westover AFB in the 60's. The BUFF's, nose gear lights used to shine thru my bedroom window @ night when they would take off! Good to see an old friend alive and kicking! Sometmes when the came off the runway they would come over so low they'd crack a window. Totally awesome! the sound of freedom! It doesn't surprise me one bit they are still flying and getting the job done. When you look up the term "old School" you'll see a picture of the Stratofortress there.
Excuse me please Gentlemen but as a Brit on this web domain, I consider the world be a safer place because of and not despite of the B52 aircraft. Okay, we have seen off the Soviets and probably many other threats possibly due to the potential threats of air launched Nuclear payload etc., so why ever not consider the re-engineering of the aircraft?

In the civilian air freight world, many of the wonderful aircraft such as the L1011 and DC10 and currently the B767 and older B747's of all grades have been recycled to continue service in the air. Spotters and observers of note continue to expend much monies and time in order to observe and record these aircraft for their beauty and grace in the air and upon the ground because they are worthy of such interest.

The B52 works, is does the job and it currently vital in certain theaters of activity and until something else is commissioned into service, I suggest every possible unit of currency is directed into either keeping this iconic ship flying or create a more than worthy successor......dreaming forgiven but why not a attack version of the C17?
preacher1 1
Miss Jennifer, they have already committed on the BUFF until about 2040 or so as far as upgrading it. That attack version of the C17 really opens up a pandora's box.LOL
Just think of the possibilities of a C17 Bomber, the B1 seems to be on it's way out and the B2 seems far too expensive to produce and operate so why not use the current C17 and adapt it to utilise it's current abilities such as rough and ready airfield use and in flight refueling and add missile/bomb carrying abilities?

With appropriate protective technologies, an enemy may be unable to decide whether it was a troop carrier, medevac or logistics flight let alone if was carrying the potential to obliterate it's landing field or other en route target!

As a lowly Brit, we had the Vulcan, it was built for a specific purpose and was imposing enough to wet ones underwear if one saw it on a low level pass at treetop height, I miss it and I guess most of us do because we have nothing else to compare it with so the C17 is in my mind the best possible replacement for a purpose built version of a modern day Vulcan bomber because of it's size and capabilities and the potential to cause an enemy to wet his underwear!.
S t r a t o f o r t r e s s ...

Even the *name* is glorious.
Yes.......but for how much longer? Are we destined for a world of computer terminal controlled model aircraft carrying possibly the ultimate weapon? UAV's are fine for spying over territories but it is those human control and decision making capabilities in an aircraft that do multiple tasks such as the decision to release the payload on a specific target with his/her eyes and intelligence inputs as parts of the process.

It is likely in my view that only a well trained and experienced human pilot, in a cabin within an operating fuel burning bomb carrying aircraft can make the vital decision to engage with a target because he/she is there and that computer controller is not!!

Keep the B52 flying even if it needs Billions of $ to re-engineer the existing fleet.
A great aircraft for sure. Great memories of them on Guam and on Diego Garcia.
My memory is not what it used to be but as a Brit but now living in CA I first saw the 52 at Mildenhall Air Show which is in top 3 of air shows in the UK when I lived there.
An Amazing aircraft one of histories all time greats.
To the guys who have kept her going and designers looking to keep her going you have my greatest respect.
Bruce Boaze 1
I always enjoyed staying at the Tom Penny Inn in Fort Worth back in the early 80s, hoping the B-52s would be taking off the next morning. Tom Penny was just across the interstate from the end of a runway at Carswell AFB, where the older version of B-52 with the eight turbo-jet engines would sometimes leave for training flights at 4:00 AM. I knew what it was, but it would still knock me out of bed!


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