The B-52 Stratofortress is a legendary aircraft, one of the longest-serving in U.S. military history, even flying missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. But it would not have become the workhorse it is without one disastrous flight 50 years ago when a B-52 on a test run lost its vertical tail fin while on a training flight over the Maine wilderness. The pilot and crew suddenly had seconds to save themselves.
The flight, and another six days later in New Mexico, helped to underscore the deadly structural weakness that was later fixed. The Maine flight crashed into a mountainside, killing seven aboard. Two survived.
A snowmobile club will held a remembrance at the Elephant Mountain site on Saturday, in advance of the 50th anniversary Jan. 24.
Santa’s “sleigh” is a B-52 bomber when he arrived at Minot Air Force Base. Santa made a “trial run” a few days earlier than his scheduled Christmas Eve visit when he stepped off the plane near one of the hangars late Friday afternoon. In the hangar, Santa greeted children and gave them candy.
Various units coordinated the Santa party for the children at the base, said Lt. Jose Davis, acting chief of Public Affairs at Minot AFB. This is the second year for the Santa children’s party at the hangar, an idea initiated by Col. James Dawkins Jr., commander of the base’s 5th Bomb Wing.
Last year between 80 and 100 families attended the party. Approximately that same number or more are expected at the party Friday.
Next week, the base will host musical guests when a small brass band group from the U.S. Air Force Heartland of America Band at Offutt AFB, Neb., visit the installation.
Arriving at the base Monday, the group’s members will perform in offices and hangars. On Dec. 20, they will perform at an elementary school.
In January 1959, one of three X-15 rocket-powered research aircraft was carried aloft under the wing of its B-52 mothership as seen in this historic photo from the U.S. space agency.
The X-15 was air launched from the B-52 so the rocket plane would have enough fuel to reach its high speed and altitude test points. For flight in the dense air of the usable atmosphere, the X-15 used conventional aerodynamic controls. For flight in the thin air outside of the appreciable Earth’s atmosphere, the X-15 used a reaction control system. Hydrogen peroxide thrust rockets located on the nose of the aircraft provided pitch and yaw control and those on the wings provided roll control.
The X-15s made a total of 199 flights over a period of nearly 10 years and set world’s unofficial speed and altitude records of 4,520 miles per hour (Mach 6.7) and 354,200 feet. Information gained from the highly successful X-15 program contributed to the development of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo manned spaceflight programs and also the Space Shuttle program.
Get your hands on a U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle model airplane only with Showcase Models – the largest source for aviation collectibles like model airplanes for display, wood aircraft models, military aircraft models and other iconic large scale model planes. Get yours now!
Boeing marked the 50 years of the delivery of its last B-52 Stratofortress to the U.S. Air Force last October 29. H-model bomber 61-040 was assigned to Minot Air Force Base, N.D., where it remains in active service.
Boeing built 744 B-52s, in eight different models, from 1952 to 1962. The Air Force fleet today comprises 76 H-models — two test aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and 74 operational aircraft that are assigned to Minot and to Barksdale Air Force Base, La. All the H-models were built in Wichita.
The Boeing B-52 has been the backbone of the United States’ manned strategic bomber force for nearly 60 years. Modern engineering analyses show the B-52′s expected life span extending beyond 2040.
The B-52 is celebrating its 60th birthday this year, and is expected to continue giving bad guys a real bad day through the 2040s, thanks to yet another upgrade.
“It’s a purely awesome machine,” said Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Dutton, B-52 command fleet manager for Global Strike Command. “It’s hard to put into words how well this aircraft was built and how well it’s been maintained over the last 50 or 60 years by our guys – out here on the flight line or deployed, it doesn’t matter.”
The bomber can carry nukes or provide close-air support by obliterating anyone shooting at U.S. troops, as it has in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
”When people ask, ‘What kind of armament, what kind of weapons can this thing carry?’ we basically say, ‘Well, pretty much the U.S. arsenal’ – granted the air-to-air role isn’t quite there yet,” said Col. Russell Hart, chief of the bomber operations division at Global Strike Command.
Going forward, the B-52 will get an upgrade to its bomb bay allowing it to carry 40 percent more precision-guided bombs and new radar that can go more than 1,000 hours before it needs to be repaired, versus the current radar, which needs to be worked on after 30 to 50 hours, Global Strike Command officials said.
The B-52′s upgrades will also allow smart bombs to receive new targets while the bomber is in flight – a critical capability given the U.S. military’s focus on the Pacific region, which requires planes to travel long distances, said Jim Noetzel of Global Strike Command’s bomber requirements division.
In fiscal 2012, the mission-capable rate for the B-52H was 78.3 percent even though the bomber’s average age is 50.8 years – blowing the doors off the B-1B’s 56.8 percent mission-capable and the B-2A’s 51.3 percent mission-capable rate.
Officials credit well-trained B-52 maintainers for the bomber’s longevity and its high mission-capable rate.
“There’s 1,000 people every day that are monitoring fleet health from the airmen on the line to folks here at the program office to the engineers at Tinker [Air Force Base, Okla.] and the program office,” said Lt. Col. Mark Riselli, branch chief of the weapons system team at Global Strike Command.
Since it first entered service in April 1952, the B-52 has been updated numerous times, replacing much of the original technology that is now obsolete, such as vacuum tubes, Riselli said.
“We’ve had … years to learn the aircraft and get it right, and the key is to refurbish it at depot every four years,” he said.
Want your own B-52 model airplane for display in your home? Visit Showcase Models and see the many handcarved wood model planes and other wartime desk model airplanes crafted to perfection only for you!
Last September 22-23 in Ostrava, Czech Republic, the 307th Bomb Wing’s B-52 Stratofortress was a major attraction at the NATO Days 2012.
“The B-52 was like a magnet for the people at NATO Days,” said Col. Jonathan Ellis, 307th BW commander. “From visiting the Polish Consulate to flying foreign dignitaries and helping support the local orphanage, it will be an experience that will live in my heart for a long time.”
This marks the wing’s third consecutive visit to the Czech Republic and an opportunity to continue to improve international relations.
Barksdale’s Citizen Airmen had a full agenda prior to the air show. They visited the 1st International School of Ostrava to kick off the community relations events.
“We had the opportunity to share our experiences in the American military with students from all over Europe,” said Lt. Col. James Morris, 307th Operations Group deputy commander. The school is set up to educate the children of foreign workers. The students may spend anywhere from 2-4 years there and then relocate with their parent(s) to another job. They are taught the British National Curriculum so they will easily transition to another school in Europe.
“We were able to host more than 100 children from local schools to get an up close look at the B-52,” said Maj. Bryan Bailey, 93rd Bomb Squadron. “The children are our future and the relations we build with them we hope will be lasting.” The children were from ages 5-11, and they were able to tour the aircraft through a translator.
Col. Joseph Jones, 307th BW vice commander and Lt. Col. Denis Heinz, 343rd Bomb Squadron commander were invited to a book store in Ostrava to speak to a group of local citizens about the 307th BW and the B-52.
“It is so rewarding to have people come up to you and say what a difference the United States made for them during World War II. We were able to converse with stories relating to the 343rd BS and their time in what was then called Czechoslovakia,” said Heinz. The two met relatives of people that supported Airmen shot down during the war that left lasting memories they passed on to their children.
More than 250,000 people attended the airshow this year.
Members of the 69th Bomb Squadron, one of two B-52 squadrons at Minot Air Force Base, are returning home after being away for six months. Those coming home includes members of the 5th Maintenance Group. “It’s been a year since we’ve had all of our squadrons here,” said Col. Todd Copeland, commander of the 5th Operations Group at the Minot base. Copeland spoke to members of the Minot area Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee during its meeting at the Minot base Thursday.
He said the 23rd Bomb Squadron, the other squadron at Minot AFB, was deployed last October and then was replaced by the 69th Bomb Squadron in April. “Minot has done its year over there,” he said. He said the 96th from Barksdale AFB, La., the only other base with B-52s, is replacing the 69th in Guam. “It was a good year for the deployment out there,” Copeland said.
Among the work the 69th squadron did while at Andersen AFB, were more than 90 higher headquartered-directed missions in support of deterrence in that region of the world. The Minot AFB bomb squadrons go to Guam to support U.S. Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence there.
Since 2004, Andersen AFB has played host to the Continuous Bomber Presence after Pacific Air Force began routinely deploying B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress bombers to Guam on a rotational basis, according to Air Force information. The rotation of bomber aircraft is designed to enhance regional security and demonstrate the United States’ commitment to stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
Copeland said while in Guam, the Minot B-52s and crewmembers also flew missions in support of multinational exercises, including Pitch Black, an exercise in Australia.
Asked by Bruce Carlson, chairman of the Military Affairs Committee, to tell the group about Guam, Copeland said it’s hot and humid. “Actually, you can tell the difference in the humidity in Guam and Hawaii. Hawaii is not humid after you’ve been on Guam for a few months.
“Typically the winter months are nice December, January it’s only in the upper 80s and you get a good breeze. In about March they have some birds there that are very protective of their nests and they’ll chase you,” he said.
He said the base has its own military beach and it’s one of the better beaches on the island, but it’s lined with coral so people are encouraged not to go beyond the reef. Guam has a large military presence, Copeland said.
Besides Andersen AFB, he said the Marine Corps is moving people to Guam. There’s also a large Navy base there. “It’s a fantastic experience for our guys when they fly out of Guam,” Copeland added.
The United States Air Force will send a B-52 bomber and KC-135 refueling tanker from Guam to Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin later this week as the U.S. Air Force increases its training and presence in Australia.
The B-52 is assigned to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam as part of a U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Air Force rotational presence in the Pacific, said Pacific Air Forces, headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
The aircraft landing at Darwin marks the first such event since the United States and Australia announced a U.S.-Australia Force Posture Initiative in November 2011.
It was in 2010 when a B-52 last landed at Darwin. The upcoming B-52 mission follows U.S. Air Force participation in Exercise Pitch Black in Australia earlier this month, the Air Force said. According to Pacific Air Force, “This will enhance U.S. ability to train, exercise and operate with Australia and with other allies and partners across the region, further enabling the U.S. to work together with these nations to respond more quickly to a wide range of challenges, including humanitarian crises and disaster relief, as well as promoting security cooperation efforts across the region”.
The B-52 and KC-135 will conduct simulated ordnance drops over Delamere Training Range in coordination with the Royal Australian Air Force and practice aerial refueling operations.
This year, the United States Air Force (USAF) celebrates the 50th birthday of its youngest B-52 Stratofortress aircraft. In the past decades, the fathers and grandfathers of today’s pilots flew the same exact airframes as this historic warrior and its counterparts lead some of the most important events in the history of humankind such as the Cuban missile crisis, Vietnam War and Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon.
Emblematic of air power’s flexibility, the B-52 Stratofortress has consistently evolved to give its nation an effective set of national security options. Even though it was developed to provide nuclear deterrence, military requirements saw that the aircraft can take missions as a wide-ranging conventional strike in maritime interdiction. Recently, the B-52 has provide critical close air support for ground forces in Afganistan and Iraq. Even outside of the combat realm, the aircraft helped push the envelope of aviation technology.
With a durable and forceful reputation back in the wartime era, who would not want to have their own desktop model displayed in your home? Visit Showcase Models and see the many wooden plane models and diecast airplane models crafted to perfection only for you!
A Maine Forest Service ranger found an ejection seat of a B-52 Bomber that crashed in 1963 on the Elephant Mountain.
Forest Ranger Bruce Reed found the ejection seat last Tuesday on an overgrown logging road during one of his hunting trips. He came back a few days later to verify the identification numbers and confirm if it was from a B-52. A team of forest rangers had retrived the ejection seat.
“The seat was lying upside down in the middle of that road,” Reed told, “I had a pretty good idea of what it was, and it was kind of eerie finding something like this in the middle of the wilderness, knowing what happened almost 50 years ago.” Damages can be seen on the seat’s headrest, but apart from that, it has held up ‘remarkably well for being there for 49 years,’ Reed added.
On January 24, 1963, an unarmed B-52 went down during a training mission. While 50 feet above the ground, the aircraft encountered some turbulence. After a loud noise the B-52 crashed, with its noise pointing down. Three crew members were able to eject from the aircraft, but seven crew members did not survived.
The ejection seat will be part of the memorial created at crash site.
News source: www.dailymail.co.uk