Iraq War: B-52

B-52 Stratofortress

Crew: 6, engine: 8 x turbo-jet P+W TF-33-P-3, 75.7kN, wingspan: 56.4m, length: 47.6m, height: 12.4m, wing area: 371.6m2, start mass: 221350-226000kg, empty mass: 111350kg, max speed: 1070kph, cruise speed: 900kph, ceiling: 18300m, range w/max.fuel: 16000km, range w/max.payload: 11800km, armament: 4 x 20mm MG, 34000kg of bombs and missiles

Since it became operational in 1955, the B-52 has been the main long-range heavy bomber of the Strategic Air Command. It first flew on Apr. 15, 1952. Nearly 750 B-52s were built when production ended in Oct. 1963, of which 170 were -Ds. The -Ds were modified to carry conventional bombs and Quail decoy missiles.

The B-52 has set many records in its 25-plus years of service. On Jan. 18, 1957, three B-52Bs completed the world's first non-stop round-the-world flight by jet aircraft, lasting 45 hours and 19 minutes with only three aerial refuelings en route. It was also a B-52 that made the first airborne hydrogen bomb drop over Bikini Atoll on May 21, 1956. In June 1965, B-52s entered combat when they began flying missions in Southeast Asia (SEA). By Aug. 1973, they had flown 126,615 combat sorties with 17 B-52s lost to enemy action.

The aircraft on display saw extensive service in SEA and was severely damaged by an enemy surface-to-air missile (SAM) on April 9, 1972. In Dec. 1972, after being repaired, it flew four additional missions over North Vietnam. Transferred from the 97th Bomb Wing, Blytheville AFB, Ark., this aircraft was flown to the USAF Museum in Nov. 1978.

Span: 185 ft.
Length: 156 ft. 6 in.
Height: 48 ft. 4 in.
Weight: 450,000 lbs. max.
Armament: Four .50-cal. machine guns in tail plus bombs--nuclear or 43,000 lbs. of conventional
Engines: Eight
Pratt & Whitney J57s of 12,100 lbs. thrust ea. with water-alcohol injection
Cost: $7,000,000

Maximum speed: 638 mph.
Cruising speed: 526 mph.
Range: 8,338 miles unrefueled
Service Ceiling: 49,400 ft.