This Is The Year Of The B-52

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

The B-52 first flew 60 years ago in April, it was last produced 50 years ago, it dropped 15,000 tons of bombs on North Vietnam 40 years ago, and now, it is being honored for its (continuing) decades of service with a "Year of The B-52" campaign. The  Commanders Action Group of the Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) began promoting the campaign in earnest this April in commemoration of the first flight of the YB-52 on April 15, 1952. Since then, AFGSC says the jet has served in every combat operation since Vietnam and is still an active element of the U.S. military arsenal. By some estimations, the jet will serve for another 30 years, fulfilling nearly a century of service. AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with Major David Donatelli for a look inside the campaign and inside the eight-engine, five-person aircraft that AFGSC calls an "icon of American Airpower." Click here to listen to the podcast.

B-52 milestones include non-stop around-the-world flights in 1957 and 1980. In 1962, the Strategic Air Command put B-52 bomber crews on 100-percent alert status for a full month during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Linebacker  and Linebacker II bombing campaigns dropped literally thousands of tons of bombs over North Vietnam beginning in 1972. In 1990, a NASA-operated NB-52B launched the Pegasus missile that placed a Navy satellite into orbit. And beginning in 2001, B-52s in Afghanistan flew bombing missions against the Taliban. Today, the aircraft's service continues.