site is going through some
changes, mainly additions, so it will be messy for a while.
The B-52 Stratofortress
(A half assed
attempt at photo coverage of a great bomber)
Click the photos
for larger images.
The first panel shows
52-0003 which was used by NASA
tests, but is usually best remembered as the X-15 "Mother ship".
This aircraft was stored at MASDC
(now AMARG) for many years before being placed on display
the Pima Air & Space Museum. The second photo is of -003 at
MASDC in 1978 and the third shows her on display at Pima in 2005.
The second panel shows drop markings, photo resolution panel and
The final panel shows the X-15
cradle and a notch in the right wing to
allow for the tail of the X-15.
A couple of X-15
photos to accompany the above photos. 56-6671 is an X-15A-2 on
display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
The aircraft labeled as 56-6672 is actually a full scale mock up on
display at the NASA Dryden Center located at Edwards AFB. The
actual 6672 was destroyed in a fatal crash in 1967.
on display at the Wings Over The
Rockies air museum in June, 2005 and in August, 2008.
NB-52B 52-0008 at Edwards AFB.
This was the replacement for -0003 and itself was only recently
with a B-52H. (unknown)
RB-52B 52-0013 at the National
Atomic Museum, Kirtland AFB, 2000. This airplane had served
Air Force Special Weapons Facility for many years. In April of
2009 the museum moved to a new location just off base and became the National Museum of Nuclear Science and
History. Moving the outside exhibit is a major effort and
as of late April the B-52 was still awaiting re-assembly.
RB-52B 52-8711 at the old SAC
Bellevue NE, 1992. When this photo was taken in August, 2007 the
aircraft had been moved inside at the new Strategic Air & Space
Ashland, Nebraska where she is
finally receiving some well earned TLC. At one time she was
repainted in a spurious SIOP scheme, which still shows through the top
53-380 ("Ciudad Juarez")
of the 95th BW. This aircraft was accidentally shot down by a
TFS (New Mexico Air National Guard) F-100A on April 7, 1961, with the
of three lives. Hard to believe, but an AIM-9 Sidewinder is
of downing even such a large aircraft. (John
This is the first "City of El Paso". Photo and the one
date from 1959.
the MD-5 fire control system
with twin 20mm cannons rather than the A-3A system with quad .50 cal
53-394 95th BW. This
was the second "City of El Paso". It was delivered
to the USAFM only to be scrapped in the late '80s. (unknown)
photo is from a "year book"
on the 95th BW. Note the unnecessary censoring of the aircraft
number. Hope the censor suffered a couple of months of
Tail of the a/c to the left.
the "winged 8" (for the 8th AF) on the tail? MASDC 1979.
B-52C 54-2672 last served with the
509th BW before being placed in
storage at MASDC in 1971. This BUFF also carries a winged 2.
B-52C 54-2677 at MASDC in 1979.
SEA scheme with a black belly and tail was unique to the B-52D.
The first three photos are of 55-0067 displayed at the Pima Air &
Space Museum. It was placed on display shortly after the last
B-52Ds were retired in 1983.
The last photo is of 55-0068 on display at Lackland AFB. This
photo was taken in 2000.
55-0083 is diaplayed at the United States Air Force Academy as a
tribute to the crews that have flown the B-52 in combat. "0083"
is one of two B-52s credited with air-to-air kills of MiG-21s.
shown on display at the March Field Air Museum at March ARB in March,
2007. This B-52D last served as an instructional airframe with
The Castle Air Museum displays 56-0612. Shown here in 1989.
56-0617 was a guest at the Holloman AFB open house in 1979.
Before being placed in storage at MASDC 56-0620 had served with
the Air Force Special Weapons Center at Kirtland AFB. She had
been in retirement for several years when this photo was taken in 1978.
with the 96th BW, 56-0626 is shown at MASDC in 1978.
The scale of this hangar is evident where The National Museum of the
United States Air Force displays 56-0665 indoors in this 2006 photo.
56-0678 is shown shortly after arrival at MASDC in 1978. One of
the last of the Connies (C-121) is in the background.
Yellow Rose, 56-0679 is on display at
Carswell AFB in 1981. Within two years she would be flown to
MASDC and placed in storage.
The Orlando International Airport has 56-0687 on permanent
display. The Orlando airport was the former site of McCoy AFB,
hence the IATA code for Orlando is MCO.
numerous other aircraft, 56-0695 is displayed at the Airpark just
outside the gates to Tinker AFB. She is shown here on a hot,
sticky day in July, 2003.
BW B-52E 56-0634 at
AFB. Probably about 1960. (I wonder if I am the little brat
running into the photo?) (John
6th BW B-52E 56-0640,
landing at Walker
AFB, about 1965. When the 6th BW flew B-29s and B-36s they used a
stylized "Pirate head" emblem on the right side of the aircraft
nose. The emblem applied to the B-52s was more in line with the
official patch. (USAF)
56-0632 was modified into the CCV "Control Configured Vehicles".
at MASDC in 1979. This color scheme is known as SIOP and
consists of two greens (FS595A 34079 and 34159) and a tan (34201)
over gloss white. This scheme was used on all B-52s still in
service by the late 60s with the exception of the B-52D.
57-0038 in 2003. This B-52F had been on display at the
Oklahoma City Fairgrounds for decades, but in 2006 she was removed and
transported to the Joe Davis Heritage Airpark in Palmdale, California.
Acres of B-52Fs at MASDC in 1979. Note the variations in colors
though many are in the same scheme.
57-0060 in the classic silver over white.
B-52F 57-0183 AFSWC . This
was the replacement for 52-0013 (top of page). MASDC 1979.
years B-52s would
return to Biggs Field for deployments.
In 1989 the 416th BW from Griffiss AFB was deployed for about two
weeks. 57-6516 is rolling out after landing at Biggs.
fleet was retired after Desert Storm, making some airframes available
to museums. The Pima Air & Space museum acquired
58-0183. When '183" went into storage at AMARG she was still
sporting artwork. Over the years the museum has met the challenge
of maintaining that art.
The nose section
of 58-0232 is on display at the Hangar
25 Museum in Big Spring, Texas. Big Spring was the home of Webb
AFB. For some time I had misidentified this aircraft as a B-52H.
Nose art made
a comeback during the
1980s and some of it was rather imaginative. This is B-52G
Rex of the 93rd BW at Castle
ASB in August, 1989.
59-2589 at the Davis-Monthan
open house in 1987.
was with the 319th BW
when photographed at Offutt AFB in July, 1981. She is shown again
going into storage at AMARC in 1993 after serving with the 2nd BW
during Desert Storm.
the 1980s the B-52G fleet was
tasked with the ALCM mission. In an agreement with the Soviet
Union those aircraft modified to carry cruise missiles received a
fairing on the leading edge of the wing root. This would make
them identifiable in satellite photos The curved fairing can be
seen in this photo.
of the 5th BW at Biggs AAF during a "Bare Base" excersise in 1982.
that the B-52H will possibly remain in service until 2040.
60-0059 was on display at the Dyess AFB open house in May, 2006.
Maybe she will be there again for several decades.
overall gray scheme
(FS595B 36118) is
shown on B-52H 61-0031 (Destination
Unknown) at the 2003 Davis-Monthan Open House.
1983 the 7th Bomb Wing at Carswell
AFB lost the venerable B-52Ds to "newer" B-52Hs. B-52H 61-0035
leads a line of B-52Ds.
Photos are mine unless
MASDC / AMARC / AMARG
The end of the
MASDC 1980. Cutting up B-52s is nothing new.
B-52s in storage at
MASDC in the early 1980s.
BUFFs in storage during 1979. 1st in line
is NB-52A 52-3.
With the retirement of the
B-52G fleet it did not take too long before they too were being
B-52Ds 56-0680 and 688
at Carswell AFB in 1985 after having been destroyed in compliance with
the START Treaty. These forlorn BUFFs remained in this location
for several months while Soviet satellites verified they were indeed
the B-52G was destroyed an effort was made to preserve some of the art
work with the majority preserved at the National Museum of the USAF.
Some art is also preserved at Pima, like Hoosier Hot Shot, B-52G 57-6486.
Surprise Attack is from
58-0162 and is at Pima also.
The NMUSAF has a great nose art display in the Cold War Hangar. Whats Up Doc 58-0182.
58-0207 was christened The City of
Merced when assigned to the 93rd BW. This art work has
suffered from several years of exposure at AMARC before being placed on
display inside at
Damage Inc is from 58-0254 and
is now safely out of the elements at the NMUSAF.
armament evolved throughout the production of the B-52. The
used for the three B-52As, seventeen of the B/RB-52Bs and all but the
final B-52C was the A-3A
Fire Control system that controlled four M3 .50 caliber machine
The other thirty three B/RB-52Bs used
The MD-5 Fire Control System, with a pair of M-24A-1 20mm
last B-52C (54-2688) introduced the MD-9 FCS which reverted to four .50
latter system was used through the B-52F. With all tall tailed
the tail gunner was in the tail separated from the rest of the crew.
This changed with the B-52G, when the gunner was moved
forward with the rest of the flight crew. The G still carried the
MG armament, but used the AN/ASG-15 FCS. With the B-52H the
"fifty cals" were replaced with a six barreled M61 "Vulcan" 20mm cannon
controlled through the AN/ASG-21 FCS. By the 1990s the guns had
been removed to make way for various ECM equipment.
first photo in the above panel shows the A-3A FCS and tail gun position
as carried by the B-52A, 17 of the B/RB-52Bs (serials 54-004/013,
53-392/398) and all but one B-52C.
2005 Pima refurbished fiberglass radomes and other parts of various
airplanes. Their B-52G received some nose work at that time.
External Fuel Tanks
and third photos show the MD-5 FCS and
20mm guns used on most RB/B-52B aircraft.
This set of
panels shows the MD-9 FCS used on the last
B-52C and all B-52D/E/F airframes.
The tail shot
of a B-52G illustrates the AN/ASG-15
FCS and quad .50 guns. The tail is noticeably different now that
the gunner has been moved forward with the rest of the crew.
During the 1970s Phase VI ECM upgrades added a 40 inch plug of the
of the tail changed even more with the
AN/ASG-21 FCS and the M61 Vulcan.
the Vulcan was removed as was the gunner.
Early J-57 powered
B-52s (A, B, C, D and E)
(YJ-57-P-3, J-57-P-1, -1W, -1WA,
-1WB, -19-W, -29W and -29WA engines.)
The earlier J-57 powered B-52s
featured a very smooth nacelle, with few protrusions or openings.
The photos in this panel show a
B-52B circa 1959 and three photos of the B-52D on display at the Pima
Air and Space Museum taken in 2007.
These five photos show the
nacelle of an RB-52B (52-8711) taken at the Strategic Air & Space
Museum in Ashton, NE. The first two photos show the opening for
the air driven alternator in the center of the engine. (2007)
Later J-57 powered
B-52s (F and G)
(J-57-P-43-W and -43-WB engines.)
The later J-57 powered variants had a bulge on the left side of each
nacelle that housed a hard driven generator.
TF-33 Powered B-52Hs
(TF-33-P-3 and P-103)
The above photos are of Pima's
B-52G 58-0183. (2007)
Main gear and wheel wells
These photos do not do justice
to the complexity of the B-52 wheel
wells, but they do give a hint. The above photos were taken of
the B-52D on display at Pima and everything in the wells have a
thorough coating of dust.
The above photos were taken
inside the wells of a B-52H at Dyess AFB in
May, 2006. Even though much cleaner, they still show years of use.
The main gear was similar on all
B-52 types. The gear itself was
usually either painted silver, or white.
Outriggers (or more
correctly Tip Gear)
I had always referred to these
as "outriggers", but was recently corrected by a BUFF crewman who
stated that when he crewed B-52s they were called Tip Gear.
The Bomb bay
These photos illustrate the
1960s vintage B-52 bomb bay. RB-52B 52-8711 is preserved at the
Strategic Air & Space Museum in Ashland, Nebraska. The views
are: forward, bay door looking forward and the view aft. (2007)
The whole purpose of the B-52
was to carry bombs and most were carried
internally. This B-52H has been modified with a rotary launcher
to field such weapons as ALCMs, JDAMs and JSOWs.
This series of
photos illustrates the flaps on a B-52H.
The initial drop
tanks were rather small on the B-52B and RB-52Bs, carrying 1,000
gallons of fuel.
B-52C, B-52D, B-52E and B-52F aircraft
The B-52C, D, E and F versions had a
larger tank, of 3,000 gallon capacity.
B-52G and B-52H aircraft
B-52G and H Stratoforts had a wet
wing and therefore did not need as large of external tanks. The
tanks on these versions are similar to the tanks on the earliest
versions, but carrying only 700 gallons and being permanently attached.
These photos show the interior of the B-52 crew trainer on display at
the Strategic Air & Space Museum in Ashland, Nebraska. While
BUFFs would change over the years they do give a good idea of the B-52
These photos are also from the same simulator. The first shot
shows the overhead panel mainly comprised of circuit breakers.
The second picture shows the center console and throttles, with the
instrument panel as a background. The main gear "crabbing"
control is the prominent dial in the lower center. The last photo
is of the aircraft commanders seat.
These photos are of the interior of B-52G 58-0232 on display at the
Hangar 25 Museum in Big Spring, Texas. This aircraft was used as
a trainer at Goodfellow AFB before going to the museum. The
interior is well worn and many items are missing.
These views show some areas buried behind the cockpit. The first
view is looking forward towards the cockpit. The second view is
looking aft towards the EWo and Gunner position. The third view
is of the Navigator and Radar Navigator position below the cockpit.
Noses and Tails
The nose of the B-52 remained very similar from the A model until the
F. With the introduction of the B52G the nose changed slightly on
it and the H. The difference became more noticeable with the
addition of EVS and other systems.
The original tail design gave the BUFF and overall height of 48'
3". This was the tall Tail as used on the B-52A through
B-52F. The tail on the B-52G and H was shortened by almost eight
feet giving them a height of 40' 8"/
As the purpose of the B-52 was to put bombs upon
enemies it would be remiss to not include the weapons carried by the
BUFF. The Stratofortress has carried a wide variety of
stores. This section will try to cover those weapons carried by
When pylons were not fitted to the aircraft the area
where they would be mounted was covered by fairings. The last
photo shows the fairing removed and the brackets where the pylon would
The under wing pylons were designed to carry
conventional ordnance and that proved handy in Viet Nam. A couple
of MERs were attached to each pylon allowing the carriage of
twelve bombs per pylon. The original pylons were designed to
carry Hound Dog missiles, but as those were in demand for SAC units
standing alert a shorter pylon was developed. A Heavy Stores
Adapter Beam (HSAB) was attached to the short pylons carry
Supposedly the pylons attached to Hound Dog missiles were assigned to
As illustrated by the above photos the B-52 was capable of carrying a
wide range of nuclear weapons. In most cases the BUFF could carry
several of any type. In the case of the Mk 17 however that was
limited to one due to the shear size of the bomb. A more detailed
guide to nuclear weapons can be found on a page devoted to free fall Nukes.
117 750 lbs bomb
81 250 lbs bomb
82 500 lbs bomb low drag
82 500lbs bomb Retarded ("Ballute")
82 500 lbs bomb ("Snake-eye")
84 2,000 lbs bomb
JDAM (2,000 lbs)
JDAM (1,000 lbs)
JDAM (500 lbs)
Stand off weapons
The AGM-28 Hound
Dog was developed in the late 1950s to serve the role of an air
launched cruise missile. It enjoyed a fairly successful life and
was not removed from the inventory until 1978. The only B-52
models not modified to carry the Hound
Dog were the B-52B and RB-52B aicraft, all other models would
carry the missile in time. The Hound
Dog carried a W-28 thermonuclear variable yield warhead of
500 kiloton to 4 megaton. The Hound
Dog was powered by a Pratt & Whitney J-52 engine. One
advantage of using a jet was that the missile could be fueled
from the carrying B-52. A pair of Hound Dogs could also be used to
provide additional power in high max gross takeoff conditions.
The AGM-69 SRAM (Short Range Attack Missile) was
developed to provide bombers with an attack capability after the
cancellation of the Skybolt program. The SRAM is able to deliver
a W-69 warhead of 200 kt yield out 100 miles. The B-52, FB-111A,
B-1B and B-2A are all capable of carrying the SRAM.
The AGM-69 ALCM (Air Launched Cruise Missile) and
CALCM (Conventional Air
Launched Cruise Missile) were
another weapon designed for carry by bombers. The AGM-69B ALCM
(left) and AGM-69C CALCM (right) illustrate the weapon with wings
extended and wings folded. The AGM-69Cs are attached to a rotary
launcher carried by B-1Bs. In the nuclear role the ALCM is fitted with
a W-80 thermonuclear warhead of 200 kt yield. The CALCM
carries a conventional warhead. The B-52H is able to carry twelve
on each pylon and eight in the bomb bay on a rotary launcher for a
total of twenty.
The AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missile has a lower
radar signature than the ALCM does. Like the AGM-69 it is powered
by a turbo fan engine and can carry the W-80 warhead.
Originally developed for the Navy the AGM-84 Harpoon
was later adapted for use by the B-52.
While not a weapon, the ADM-20 Quail was concevied
to be carried in the
bomb bay of the B-52. Its purpose was to provide a decoy image on
Soviet radar allowing the B-52 to reach its objective. A B-52
could carry four Quails as well as a reduced bomb load. However,
the ADM-20 became ineffective by the early 70's and was removed from
The B-52 was capable of carrying the D-21 drone,
though it was not common. In fact it appears that very few
missions were actually carried out (probably no more than five) under a
program called Senior Bowl.
Early B-52s left the factory in a natural
metal finish. The lettiring on the forward fuselage was a small
"UNITED STATES AIR FORCE" in Insignia Blue (FS 15044). Radomes
were black and the SAC "Milky Way" band was not carried.
With the B-52C the white "Anti-Flash" belly was introduced along
with a larger "U.S. AIR FORCE" on the forward section. The SAC
band was added and on most aircraft the lower nose radome was painted
an off white. The B-52B and RB-52B received this scheme as they
were cycled through depot maintenance, though on some RB-52Bs the SAC
band was applied aft of the wing. All subsequent B-52s would
receive the silver over white scheme at the factory, which would remain
in effect until camouflage made an appearance in the 1960s.
Some silver B-52s in later life appear to be sprayed silver
rather than a natural metal finish.
This page out of T.O. 1-1-4 EXTERIOR FINISHES, INSIGNIA AND MARKINGS
APPLICABLE TO USAF AIRCRAFT shows an Arctic B-52 scheme that
while probably never carried on any BUFF does give reference to the
placement of markings.
The first B-52s to gain
camo were some B-52Es that served in South East Asia. They
received a coat of black paint sprayed over the white bellies to make
them less visible from below at night. During the mid 1960s two
schemes were created. What is usually referred to as the SIOP
scheme was used on all B-52s remaining in service while the B-52Ds were
painted is a scheme that is often called SEA, though it differed in
colors from the TAC SEA scheme and only differed from the SIOP scheme
is using black on the underside instead of white and having a black
vertical tail. The colors for the SIOP scheme were Tan (FS
34201), Dark Green (34079), SAC Green (34159) and White (17875).
As mentioned the SEA only differed in using Black instead of White.
The SIOP scheme was used on B-52C/E/F/G/H aircraft.
The SEA scheme was only used on the B-52D.
By the 1980s only the
B-52D/G/H aircraft were left in service. During the early 1980s
SAC felt that the big white nose on SIOP BUFFs was just to conspicuous,
so the nose area was painted in Gray (36081). This was an interim
scheme until a new one was developed. The remainder of the B-52D
fleet was retired in 1983 and no changes were made to the SEA scheme.
A new scheme came around
for the B-52G/H fleets in the early 1980s and included a pattern for
the lower surface as well as the top. The top pattern consited of
Green (34086) and Euro One Gray (36081), the lower Euro One Gray
(36081) and Gunship Gray (36118). This scheme was replaced by the
current overall gray though some B-52Gs were retired in the early 1990s
still in this pattern.
By the late 1980s a
single color scheme was fielded. Initially overall Euro One Gray
(36081) was used, but by 1992 the shade was changed to the slightly
lighter Gunship Gray (36118). This is the current (2007) scheme,
but as long as the Stratofortress is expected to stay in service it
might not be the last. While not as appealing as the Silver/White
scheme it is preferable to the 1980s scheme.
And the B-52's replacement
Oops, that did not happen.
Okay, okay, this is it!
Oh no, not that either.
wait, here it is!
Well, maybe not after all.
This will do the trick!
that remains to be seen.
In reality none of the bombers above were really meant as a
replacement for the BUFF. The B-70 program was envisioned to be
the bomber of the future, but early in its developement it was realized
that a high altitude bomber was no longer viable.
The B-1 was to supplant the B-52 until the Stealth Bomber came into
The FB-111 was spawned during Robert S. McNamara's reign of goofiness
and though a good strike aircraft it was never meant as a serious B-52
The B-2 has not been built in the numbers needed to replace the B-52,
but it is a system that provides capability well beyond its
numbers. Time alone will see the end to the B-52's service life.
United States Air Force Academy has a memorial dedicated to the B-52
and the crews that have flown her through the years.
Page created 12-4-01