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Boeing B-52H Stratofortress

Long-range strategic bomber

B-52H Stratofortress bomber

The Boeing B-52H Stratofortress is scheduled to remain in service until 2044 despite its age

 
 
Entered service 1955
Crew 5 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 49.05 m
Wing span 56.39 m
Height 12.4 m
Weight (maximum take off) 229 t
Engines and performance
Engines 8 x Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3 turbofans
Traction (dry) 8 x 75.62 kN
Maximum speed 958 km/h
Service ceiling 16.7 km
Range over 16 000 km
Armament
Cannon 1 x 20-mm Vulcan six-barrelled cannon in tail turret housing
Missiles AGM-86C cruise missiles, AGM-142 Have Nap (Rafael Popeye) stand-off precision-guided attack missiles
Bombs B61 or B83 free-fall thermonuclear bombs, conventional Mk 117 or Mk 83 free-fall bombs

 

   By normal standards long since rendered obsolete due to its great vulnerability to surface-to-air missiles, the mighty Boeing B-52 Stratofortress has seen two would-be successors fall by the wayside. It remains a major element in one of the three US strategic deterrents and will continue to give valuable service well into the 21st century.

   The B-52 began life in 1948 as a turboprop successor to the B-50. In 1949, a change to Pratt & Whitney J57 turbojet powerplant was made and the XB-52 prototype made its maiden flight on 15 April 1952. The B-52 evolved through progressively improved B-52A to B-52G models, the latter remaining in service to late 1994.

   The ultimate B-52H is characterized by two major changes: introduction of TF33 turbofans that give greater thrust in concert with a considerably reduced specific fuel consumption, and structural changes which permit the B-52 to fly at low altitudes without excessive fatigue problems.

   The final B-52H was rolled out in June 1962 and with the B-1B and B-2A entering service in only limited numbers, the B-52H has been constantly upgraded to enable it to remain a credible front-line type. With the B-1B increasingly assuming the free-fall nuclear role of the B-52H, this latter type has been reallocated to the force projection role, with weapons that now include the AGM-86C conventionally-armed variant of the nuclear cruise missile and Have Nap missiles. The importance of the B-52H to the USAF's continued need for warplanes with global reach while carrying very heavy warloads is demonstrated by the fact that comprehensive upgrades for the remaining aircraft, both in terms of avionics and weapons systems, are still planned. And although a re-engining programme has apparently been dropped, the type is still scheduled to remain in service until 2044.

 

Video of the B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber

 
B-52H Stratofortress bomber

B-52H Stratofortress bomber

B-52H Stratofortress bomber

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