Boeing B-52

When Boeing’s B-52 Stratofortress bomber entered service with US
Strategic Air Command in 1955, no one could have believed that it would still be going strong in the early 21st century.
The aireraft has undergone constant updating of equipment and extensive structuraI modification, but its survival in frontline service is above all a tribute to the soundness of the initial design.
Distinctive features include the extraordinarily flexible wing, prevented from dragging on the ground when taxiing by an
outrigger wheel under each wingtip. The heavy weight of the four paired engine pods helps to limit wing flexing in flight.
The B-52 was buiIt as a high-altitude intercontinental bomber capable of dropping nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union. As Soviet
ground-to-air missile defences improved, the B-52 had to adapt to low-level penetration of hostile airspace, and then to carrying stand-
off missiles rather than bombs. During the Vietnam War the B-52 proved itself a terrifyingly effective conventional bomber; the B-52 “Big Belly” model was capable of carrying an astonishing 60,000lb bombload. Since the end of the Cold War the B-52H version has played a central role in US air operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has every chance of proving the most durable aircraft in military aviation history.