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A B-52 Stratofortress in the air

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, strategic bomber that has been used by the United States Air Force since 1955.

The B-52 was designed to carry nuclear weapons during the Cold War and to replace the Convair B-36. It is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds of weapons, though they have never dropped nuclear weapons in combat.

When it entered service the B-52 was initially assigned to the Strategic Air Command until its disestablishment in 1992 when they were moved to the Air Combat Command.


The first B-52 bomber left the factory on July 14, 1954, first flew on January 25, 1955. The aircraft type entered

Side view of YB-52 bomber, with bubble canopy similar to that of the B-47

service in 1956 integrated into the Strategic Air Command. It was long range aircraft and capable of carrying nuclear weapons, which gave the U.S. capability to attack the Soviet Union, at that time had no effective means to attack vioar capable bombers at high altitude.

The first operational version was the B-52 B-52B, of which 23 copies were produced over 27 standard capacity for high altitude aerial reconnaissance. In 1958 the B-52 received first missiles 'Hound Dog', which allowed further increase the efficiency of the aircraft to allow the B-52 attack points in the Soviet Union approaching the target and attacking it at distances up to 1125 km. The appearance of the B-52 led the Soviet Union to develop anti-aircraft missiles to high altitude, as well as focusing on the development of fighter interceptors. The appearance of these weapons led to a radical change in the use of B-52 that instead of bombing targets from high altitudes has to have to attack them using techniques that included the flight at very low altitude. This led to the emergence of structural problems, as the low altitude stress of the materials was much higher and the wear of the joints and areas subject to high mechanical stress was much faster. The low altitude, the B-52 consumed much more fuel, which reduced its operating range.


General characteristics

  • Crew: 5 (pilot, copilot, radar navigator (bombardier), navigator, and Electronic Warfare Officer) Originally a crew of 6 with a tail gunner. In the A through F models had a tail gunner whose position was in the aft fusalage. In the G and H models the gunner was moved to the front crew cabin and remotely controlled the tail gun. This position was removed in the 90's
  • Length: 159 ft 4 in (48.5 m)
  • Wingspan: 185 ft 0 in (56.4 m)
  • Height: 40 ft 8 in (12.4 m)
  • Wing area: 4,000 sq ft (370 m²)
  • Airfoil: NACA 63A219.3 mod root, NACA 65A209.5 tip
  • Empty weight: 185,000 lb (83,250 kg)

    B52 Stratofortress at Andersen AFB

  • Loaded weight: 265,000 lb (120,000 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 488,000 lb (220,000 kg)
  • Powerplant: 8× 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


  • Maximum speed: 560 kt (650 mph, 1,000 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 (595 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.31
  • Lift-to-drag ratio: 21.5 (estimated)


  • Guns:20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan cannon in a remote controlled tail turret, removed from all current operational aircraft; 4x .50 caliber machine guns, quad mounted in a remote controlled tail turret, removed from all current operational aircraft
  • Bombs: Approximately 70,000 pounds (31,500 kg) mixed ordnance; bombs, mines, missiles, in various configurations


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

See also

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