Sixty years on, the B-52 is still going strong

Russ Steele

C/Net has the story, the B-52’s first flight was on April 15th in 1952. My first combat assignment was in the B52G at Loring Air Base in 1962, after two years of training as a Navigator and then Electronics Warfare Officer. The H model featured in the C/Net story is a G model with vastly improved turbojet engines.

A couple of years ago Ellen and I took our grandkids to Beale AFB for an Open House. There was a B-52H on the ramp and we chatted with the crew. The B-52 the crew was flying had been build before any of them were born. The crews that will be flying the B-52H when it is retired in 2040 have not been born yet.


About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

3 Responses to Sixty years on, the B-52 is still going strong

  1. Dixon Cruickshank says:

    I have always wondered why when they find a good design why not build some more of them – quick story, I was bass fishing on Lake Kissimiee on the southend, just north of the Big Lake – which borders the Avon Park Bombing Range. We were very close to that shoreline and had a great view of some low level bombing runs by maybe F-15’s – Then a B-52 rolled into the pattern at maybe 1500/2000′ for their turn, made 3 or 4 passes and swings over the lake and around us to reset – damn big airplane, never will forget that.

  2. Dena says:

    They built a bunch, had a bunch shot down and have scraped a bunch because of a treaty with Russia. While it still functions well in the third world theater, we need something like the B1 and B2 in a fight with a more advanced foe. I agree we should continue to fly them because the newer planes are far more costly but keep a mix and use what works best for the fight we are in.
    As for a large plane, I was down at Miramar before they moved the Top Gun school out and I watched fighters come in and out all day. Then off in the distance I saw a slow moving plane and at first suspected it might be in trouble. As it got closer, I could see it was a transport plane but it kept getting bigger. I found out it was a C5 Galaxy. That was a BIG plane. Its bigger than a 747 but a 747 can haul more weight. However if you are moving something bulky, do it in a C5.

    • Russ says:

      The B-52 is very flexible, capable of carrying old fashion gravity bombs or a huge load of stand-off super sonic missiles with guided warheads. The B-1 defensive systems are all automated, and the B-2 relies on stealth, were as the B-52 has a human operating the defensive systems. There are some advantages to human operated systems, they can adjust to changing conditions were as the automated systems are driven by prior intelligence. Bad intelligences = bad response to thread.

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