HomeNewsArticle Display

50th anniversary of B-52 delivery

CASTLE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Retired Brig. Gen. William Eubank, the 93rd Bomb Wing commander, talks with Air Force officers on the flightline here after the first B-52 Stratofortress operational flight June 29, 1955.  (U.S. Air Force photo)

CASTLE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Retired Brig. Gen. William Eubank, the 93rd Bomb Wing commander, talks with Air Force officers on the flightline here after the first B-52 Stratofortress operational flight June 29, 1955. (U.S. Air Force photo)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- A B-52 Stratofortress takes off from here.  June 29 marked the bomber's 50th anniversary.  (U.S. Air Force photo)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- A B-52 Stratofortress takes off from here. June 29 marked the bomber's 50th anniversary. (U.S. Air Force photo)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFPN) -- Even though it recently turned 50, the B-52 Stratofortress is still capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory. And its lifespan has been calculated to extend beyond the year 2040.

June 29 marked the 50th anniversary for the B-52, also known as the “Big Ugly Fat Fellow,” or perhaps more familiar to most -- the “Buff.”

It was June 29, 1955, when Brig. Gen. William Eubank, the 93d Bomb Wing commander at the time, delivered the first B-52 to the 4017th Combat Crew Training Squadron of the 93rd Bomb Wing at Castle Air Force Base, Calif.

The retired general recalled his introduction to the B-52 while at the same time bidding farewell to one of the aircraft it replaced -- the B-47 Stratojet.

“It looked a lot like the B-47 to me, but it drives more like a truck. This thing is heavy on the controls, but a real good performer,” he said describing his first impression of the B-52. “It’s a real good airplane, and I’m glad to see it’s still around.”

That initial B-52, aircraft number 52-8711, was the first of more than 740 Stratofortresses and the beginning of a bombing community rich with history. Historical, maybe, but the nation’s oldest active-duty bomber is still a key player today in the war on terrorism.

While visiting Barksdale during a June 29 ceremony commemorating the aircraft, General Eubank said he could not believe the legacy of flight that the B-52 would leave behind.

“I’m real proud of the jet and that I had the first operational wing, but I had no idea that the bomber would have so long of an operational life span,” he said.

For more than 40 years, the B-52 has been the primary manned strategic bomber force for the United States. It is a long-range, heavy bomber capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet, and can carry nuclear or precision-guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation capability.

A total of 744 B-52s were built, with the last, a B-52H, delivered in October 1962. Only the H-model is still in the Air Force inventory and is assigned to Air Combat Command and the Air Force Reserve here and at Minot Air Force Base, N.D.

The first of 102 B-52Hs was delivered to Strategic Air Command in May 1961. The H-model can carry as many as 20 air-launched cruise missiles. In addition, it can carry the conventional cruise missile that was launched from B-52G models during Operation Desert Storm, officials said.

In a conventional conflict, the B-52 can perform air interdiction, offensive counterair and maritime operations. During Desert Storm, B-52s delivered 40 percent of all the weapons dropped by coalition forces, officials said. It is highly effective when used for ocean surveillance and can assist the Navy in anti-ship and mine-laying operations. Two B-52s, in two hours, can monitor 140,000 square miles of ocean surface.

All B-52s are equipped with an electro-optical viewing system to augment the targeting, battle assessment, flight safety and terrain-avoidance system, thus further improving its combat ability and low-level flight capability, officials said.

Starting in 1989, an ongoing modification has been incorporating the Global Positioning System, heavy stores adapter beams for carrying 2,000-pound munitions and additional smart weapons capability.

The use of aerial refueling gives the B-52 a range limited only by crew endurance. It has an unrefueled combat range in excess of 8,800 miles.

The aircraft’s flexibility was evident during the Vietnam War and, again, in Operation Desert Storm. B-52s struck wide-area troop concentrations, fixed installations and bunkers, and they decimated the morale of Iraq’s Republican Guard, officials said.

The Gulf War involved the longest strike mission in the history of aerial warfare when B-52s took off from here, launched conventional cruise missiles and returned -- a 35-hour, nonstop combat mission.

During Operation Allied Force, B-52s opened the conflict with conventional cruise missile attacks and then transitioned to delivering general purpose and cluster bombs on enemy positions and staging areas.

Airmen of the 2nd BW wanted to commemorate the June 29 anniversary with a flyover of Castle AFB, but it was canceled because of an in-flight emergency.

The 8th Air Force museum is also commemorating the anniversary by adding postcards and signed pictures of General Eubank to its inventory.

The B-52B that General Eubank flew is one of four of its kind still in existence and is displayed at the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland, Neb.

Engage

Twitter
F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron @EielsonAirForce takeoff in support of exercise Valia… https://t.co/cf0raGgEUD
Twitter
RT @USAF_ACC: "This test, and others like it, can shape the future of the MQ-9, as we continue to increase its relevance in great power com…
Twitter
"We cannot rest on our laurels. It is all about the people, folks, and they will guarantee our readiness, and are f… https://t.co/BsNDUSw0wE
Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: USAFCENT Airmen and coalition partners are executing missions of national, regional and global importance and Exercise Desert…
Twitter
In March 2019, @AFSpecOpsCmd received its first Block 30 AC-130J Ghostrider gunship. Referred to as “the ultimate b… https://t.co/V9FoDThYRQ
Twitter
As the Joint Force transitioned from a Continuous Bomber Presence posture in the Indo-Pacific theater to a Dynamic… https://t.co/u8JlA3GaeF
Twitter
As of August 2020, The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, aka Hurricane Hunters, has flown 64 missions into 12 s… https://t.co/CFtHJ8HDXG
Twitter
.@AFGlobalStrike tackled B-1B readiness issues head-on by readying the fleet with a roadmap to recovery over a 2-yr… https://t.co/dEfZemGKbb
Twitter
As we celebrate 73 years of the U.S. Air Force, we remember the heroes we are proud to have served with. Today we… https://t.co/3pdHX3DvIn
Twitter
Flying, fighting and winning since 1947. #USAF73 https://t.co/qM28ykPZwt
Twitter
RT @AF_Academy: Proud to fly the @usairforce flag today and every day! Happy 73rd Birthday! #YourAcademy #FamilyWeek https://t.co/hOIs1ghq7M
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Today we honor the #heroes who knew the worst of war and the agony of captivity - those who fought for and lost their fre…
Twitter
RT @ArmyMateriel: Join us in wishing a Happy Birthday to our brothers and sisters in the United States Air Force! #DYK The Air Force was…
Twitter
RT @JBABdc: Happy 73rd birthday, @usairforce! The USAF Band and Honor Guard were thrilled to help kick off the celebration on Fox & Friends…
Twitter
RT @AFSAHQ: Happy Birthday to the world's greatest @UsAirForce ! 73 years of excellence, service and sacrifice. Thank you to all the #Air
Twitter
RT @97AMW: Happy 73rd birthday @usairforce! As we celebrate today, we honor the heroism of our Airmen, past and present, who have been the…
Twitter
RT @53rdWRS: Special birthday shoutout to @usairforce! 73 never looked so good! What better way to celebrate than by flying another missio…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,280,246
Follow Us