This video will give you a real insight into what is probably the most iconic aerial platform in the United States Military. It has been around now for 69 years and the plan is that she will be around for quite a few more.
This Boeing built bomber was born in 1952 and was, for a long time, the biggest deterrent in our arsenal during the Cold War. But the B-52 has seen plenty of hot war experience as well. Its first test flights took off from Boeing Field in Seattle where they were made in Plant 2. That field is still here and is still very active and has an incredible museum of flight that is a must see, if you are ever in Seattle.
I had my own experiences with this iconic warbird. On my way to Vietnam in January of 1968, I spent a week at the Marine barracks outside of Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. The barracks were located at the end of the runway and those behemoths would fly right over us immediately after take off. They were so big that their shadow would darken the barracks for a moment and the noise literally rattled the building. Their lumbering, roaring take offs were, to say the least, awe inspiring.
Little did I know that I would find myself at Khe Sanh during the siege and watching the “Arc Light” bombing runs of B-52s exploding with ferocious violence within a mile of the base (toward the end of the siege) in their efforts to help keep the North Vietnamese from attacking the base. They could carry 70,000 lbs of bombs each.
We never saw them or heard them, of course. They were flying at 50,000 feet. We only knew of their presence when, all of a sudden, in a series of threes, their immense volumes of ordinance began exploding out there beyond the wire. Our attention would be suddenly drawn to the sound of the explosions at first, then we’d feel the concussions from the shock waves moments later.
All I remember is thinking what a hell that must have been for the North Vietnamese underneath all that and being glad it wasn’t us being targeted by that level of devastation.
These huge planes can fly almost 9,000 miles at 650 mph, at 50,000 feet and can carry a diverse range of weapons. This is why they have been so valuable as a deterrent for the almost 70 years they have been in the fleet. They are still one of the most recognizable planes in the sky.
The B-52 was truly built to last. As of now, these bombers are expected to be part of the fleet until 2040, by which time they will be almost 100 years old.
Those who have flown these big birds and those who have maintained and armed them, have a knowledge of them that few will ever know. She is a tough and sturdy old lady indeed. Fly, Fight, Win!
Learn more in the video below.