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Boeing B-52 "Stratofortress"

Heavy Strategic Bomber

Standing the Test of Time.

One of the most iconic warplanes in the American arsenal, the B-52 'Stratofortress' was a product of the Cold War period (1947-1991) and developed as a long-range, high-altitude strategic bomber. It first flew on April 15th, 1952 and, rather amazingly, the B-52 platform has been progressively updated since its inception to deal with changes to over the ever-evolving battlefield. This has resulted in a slightly different mission set compared to its Cold War-era roots when high-level bombing was the call-of-the-day. The modern B-52 remains a highly-capable machine, able to haul massive war loads over range and supports air-to-surface missiles and cruise missiles to boot. With no clear replacement in sight, the B-52 will remain a part of the USAF inventory for the foreseeable future.
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Mission Roles

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Image from the U.S. DoD DVIDS imagery database; Public Release.


Exceptional Range

An inherent in-flight refueling capability extends an already impressive range capability for the Stratofortress, meaning the enemy is always within reach of its war load.

Versatility in Design

The B-52 design has surpassed the test of time, appearing during the 1950s and being evolved beyond its bomber role. It has fulfilled dedicated reconnaissance, testing, and data-collecting roles over its long and storied career in the skies.

B-52 Survival

Early forms of the Stratofortress carried 4 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns as defensive weaponry - a carryover from Cold War-era thinking. In time, this station was upgraded with a single 20mm automatic cannon. Modern Stratofortresses have since done away with any and all defensive weapons - carrying more advanced ECM systems instead.

Stratofortress Evolution

The Stratofortress has evolved from its high-altitude bombing days to become an equally-potent low-level intruder - delivering its 70,000lb war load on top of the enemy wherever he chooses to hide.


Active, In-Service (69 yrs)
Boeing Company - USA
744 Units
1 Total

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United States (USAF/NASA)

(List includes former, current, and potential operating nations)
B-52H: 8 x Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3/103 non-afterburning turbofan engines developing 17,000lb of thrust each unit (2 x Twin-engined pods to a wing member).

(Assuming optimal flying/environmental conditions)
Maximum Speed
652 mph | 1,050 kph | 567 kts
Cruising Speed
525 mph | 845 kph | 456 kts
Service Ceiling
49,213 ft | 15,000 m | 9.32 miles
Operational Range
10,088 miles | 16,235 km | 8,766 nm
6,270 ft/min | 1,911 m/min
(Showcased performance statistics pertain to the B-52H production model)
159.12 feet (48.50 meters)
185.37 feet (56.50 meters)
41.01 feet (12.50 meters)
(Showcased measurements pertain to the B-52H production model)
183,535 lb (83,250 kg)
485,016 lb (220,000 kg)
(Showcased weights pertain to the B-52H production model)
Air-dropped / air-launched ordnance / munitions housed internally and on optional underwing hardpoints. Up to 70,000lb of ordnance carried including air-to-surface missiles, cruise missiles, precision-guided bombs, conventional drop bombs, nuclear weapons, and mines.

Early forms carried 1 x 20mm M61 'Vulcan' automatic cannon in rear turret emplacement. Removed after 1991. Supported Types:

Close-in Cannon graphic Close-in Gun(s)
Air-to-Surface Missile graphic Air-to-Surface Missiles
Precision-Guided Bomb graphic Precision-Guided Bombs
Conventional Drop Bomb graphic Conventional Drop Bombs
Conventional Nuclear Bomb graphic Nuclear Weapons
B-52 'Stratofortress' - Base Series Designation.
XB-52 - Prototype designation; two examples produced.
YB-52 - Developmental designation; single XB-52 modified for role.
B-52A - Initial production model; three produced and used in flight testing phase; reworked forward fuselage and flightdeck seating; six crewmen; tail turret with 4 x 0.50 cal heavy machine guns; external fuel stores.
NB-52A - Modified A-model bomber for use in X-15 program as mothership.
B-52B - Initial USAF operational model; revised avionics set and engine fit; water injection system.
RB-52B - Long-range, high-altitude reconnaissance variant of B-model bomber.
NB-52B - Modified B-model bomber for use in X-15 program as mothership.
B-52C - Increased fuel capacity for increased operational range; updated fire control system (MD-9); increased gross weight (450,000lb); thermal radiation protection.
RB-52C - C-model reconnaissance variant.
B-52D - Dedicated long-range heavy bomber variant; increased internal bomb loads.
B-52E - Updated avionics suite and navigation system.
NB-52E - E-model systems testbed with canards.
JB-52E - Single-example testbed flown with TF39 and CF6 series engines.
B-52F - Powered by J57-P-43W engines; revised water injection system for increased thrust.
B-52G - Revised/modernized B-52 model of 1959; wet wing; spoilers added; revised water injection for added thrust; enlarged nose radome; tail gunner relocated to forward fuselage section; 193 examples produced.
B-52H - Modernized/definitive Stratofortress model of 1961; structural improvements of G-model with TF33-P-3 turbofan engines; updated avionics and ECM fits; 20mm tail gun; later support for ADR-8 countermeasures rocket system and GAM-87 'Skybolt' ballistic missiles; 102 examples completed.
XR-16A - Proposed B-52B dedicated reconnaissance platform; not used.

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