Here we have the longest serving aircraft in the American air arsenal – the iconic B-52 Stratofortress.
Design for this leviathan began way back in 1946. Developed to carry nuclear and conventional munitions for cold war deterrence, the BUFF (Big Ugly Flying Fellow) made its maiden flight on April 15, 1952. Activily serving since 1955, 744 B-52’s have been built. The last one constructed left the factory on October 26, 1962 yet there are no plans to replace it. The combination of durability, affordability, and flexibility have led the Air Force to plan for the use of the B-52 through 2040.
B-52s have seen service during the Cold War, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Allied Force in Yugoslavia, and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Footage of the modern B-52 in action.
Ever wonder what carpet bombing looks like?
BUFF has never dropped a nuclear device in combat but she did drop the first hydrogen bomb.
B-52 is number 1 of the worrld’s Top Ten Bombers of all time!
Just because she’s old that doesn’t mean she’s broke. If you want to scare the crap out of some tinpot dictator, you can leave the cruise missiles at home. Just tell him that the B-52s are in the air!
(FYI – BUFF also stands for Big Ugly Fat F#cker.)
UPDATE: January 4th, 2017 – An unarmed B-52 on a training mission over Minot AFB lost an engine mid-flight – literally. Due to a “catastrophic engine failure”, the assembly “shelled itself” according to Air Force officials. Massive damage could have caused the engine housing or cowling to crumble and fail allowing the engine to plummet into a riverbed about 25 miles from the base. The bomber landed safely and none of the 5 crew were reported injured. The aircraft in this incident was reported to have been built in 1961.