The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. The bomber is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of weapons, and has a typical combat range of more than 8,800 miles (14,080 km) with aerial refueling. The B-52 took its maiden flight in April 1952. Built to carry nuclear weapons for Cold War-era deterrence missions.The B-52's official name Stratofortress is rarely used; informally, the aircraft has become commonly referred to as the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fucker).
Role Strategic bomber
National origin United States
First flight 15 April 1952
Introduction February 1955
Status In service
Primary users United States Air Force NASA
Number built 744
Unit cost B-52B: US$14.43 million B-52H: US$9.28 million (1962) B-52H: US$53.4 million (1998)
Developed into Conroy Virtus
Originally planned by Boeing in 1946 as a B-50 Washington replacement, the aircraft was to have heen a straight-winged bomber that relied on turboprop engines due to the lack of available powerplants capable of propeiling an intercontinental bomber. However, the B-52 became a direct beneficiary of Pratt & Whitney's fuel-efficient J57 turbojet, which was far superior to its rivals in terms of performance and economy. Redesigned with eight engines housed in four doublé pods beneath swept wings, the prototype YB-52 completed lts first flight on 15 April 1952. Initially built with tandem seating for the pilot and co-pilot, production B-52As had a revised side-by-side layout in an airliner style cockpit. Re-equipping B-50 squadrons from March 1955, the B-52 was produced to the tune of 744 airframes in eight sub-types. Numerically, the most important of these was the B-52D (170], which played a key role in the Vietnam War and was the backbone of Strategie Air Command's Cold War nuclear bomber force into the 1970s, and the B-52G [193 built], with its smaller fin and remote-controlled tail guns. The final production variant was the B-52H (102 built], which was similar to the G-model except for its eight Pratt & Whitney TF33 turbofan engines and 20mm cannon in the tail turret, rather than four O.SOin machine guns. The B-52G saw extensive combat in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, as it was capable of employing conventional cruise missiles and iron bombs. The G-models were retired from USAF service soon afterwards, leaving just 90 B-52Hs equipping frontline units. Like the B-52Gs, these aircraft are now capable of employing both nuclear and conventional bombs and cruise missiles, and have dropped/fired the latter in combat in Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Surviving B-52Hs are set to serve until 2040.