B-52, bomber (Boeing B-52): description, specifications, weapons

Created by Boeing Corporation during the Cold War, the B-52 is a long-range bomber, strategic, and is capable of not only carrying bombs, but also carrying nuclear weapons on board. Almost immediately, this machine became one of the symbols of the superpower and for sixty-five years remains the basis of the strategic aviation of the United States of America.

b 52 bomber

Brief General Information

Modernization of these aircraft will continue, which laid more than twelve billion dollars. B-52 - long-lived bomber, until 2030 to change this car to a new Pentagon has no plans. Experts say that each such machine can fly for at least eighty-three years, and this period ends in 2040.

When designing, the task was "Stratoforcess" only one - the delivery of two thermonuclear bombs of the highest power to any point of the USSR.In total, seven hundred forty-four B-52s were released on the airfields. The bomber of the last modifications of 1998 costs fifty three and a half million dollars. It has been modernized several dozen times, so there are many modifications. Since its inception, in almost all conflicts where the US Air Force participated, the B-52 has been involved. A bomber of this type shows the highest results in flight range, almost a champion.

At the very end of the war, atomic weapons were created, and this completely changed all the priorities in the world. However, its presence did not become a decisive factor, since the nuclear bomb had to be somehow delivered to the target. Rocket technologies were just beginning their development, and the two superpowers threw all their forces on the delivery vehicles, which were: the B-52 in the US was a bomber, whose characteristics at the time did not leave much to be desired, and the USSR had a Tu-95, an intercontinental bomber, still in service (by the way, it was this plane that made the nonstop flight in 2010, which became a world record, still not conquered, thirty thousand kilometers over three oceans - this is the range).

However, in the post-war aviation the most important point was the one that showed the failure of the piston type of engines. It was clear that the need for jet aircraft, for her future. And here the Americans managed to get a head start: it was they who got the German developments in the jet field, and the Germans were engaged in rockets for a long time and very hard, that is, there were already almost finished projects, in any case - advanced developments. So the B-52, a bomber, whose characteristics had no analogues in the world, appeared.

Boeing B 52 Stratofortress

Start and development

The designers received the task in 1946, when the B-36 was not yet tested. The US military understood that another model was urgently needed, much more distant, which was the second generation bomber, which has a range of more than eight thousand kilometers and can carry up to thirty tons of bombs. Flight speed, of course, also required much more. The Boeing company immediately took over the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress project, won the competition and received funds to continue the project.

The victory of this aircraft manufacturer was quite natural, for many decades she had worked together in close cooperation with the US Air Force.The first airplanes were manufactured by her back in 1917, after which fighter planes were created for the United States aviation - the R-26, R-12, MV-3. At the end of this work, Boeing was engaged in the development of bombers, but such a brainchild as the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress was not designed by anyone in the world.

By 1948, the final draft of this aircraft was ready. True, his radius of action was not eight, but less than five thousand kilometers, and a speed of nine hundred and ten kilometers per hour. He could take on board the ordered number of bombs - twenty-four and a half tons, and had a take-off mass of about one hundred and fifty tons. On the B-52 Stratofortress bomber, the installation of four turbojet engines was planned.

Soon after the war began in Korea, where the United States wanted to participate as effectively as possible, and this greatly accelerated the progress of work on the new aircraft. The first prototype was ready in 1951, but required many improvements, and therefore the tests could only begin by the end of 1952. The first pre-production batch of B-52 Stratofortress was released in 1954, and the Americans were able to seriously exploit the new car in 1955. And already in 1956, on a quiet May morning, the B-52 strategic bomber dropped the first hydrogen bomb and at the same time long non-stop flights began.

B 52 Stratofortress

Cold war

In 1957, the three Boeing B-52 Stratofortress airplanes flew around the Earth without a hitch. This was not the limit. The American B-52 bomber set a record in 1962. The flight lasted twenty-two hours and nine minutes, which allowed to overcome the distance beyond the control of any other aircraft. The flight that the B-52 bomber made, the flight range showed at that time simply unprecedented: the distance was twenty thousand one hundred sixty-eight kilometers. After this truly great achievement, the United States felt much more confident among the rest of the world. All the years of the Cold War, every minute of her could bring death and destruction anywhere in the world. In many places, and brought.

Bombers in full nuclear equipment were on duty around the clock at the airfields. To reduce the likelihood of hitting everyone at once, the airfields with the B-52s on duty were thirty-six, that is, the aircraft were dispersed. While part of them was awaiting orders on the airfield, ten such monsters as the B-52 bomber were in the air, the US was on alert, and it began in the sixties. They were ready to strike at any moment.And in the late eighties, forty such vehicles were already in combat duty. It was only in 1991 that the airplanes stopped keeping airborne - the United States won the Cold War against the USSR. For all these years, for various reasons, seventy-one such ultra-long-range strategic bomber was lost, for the most part they were shot down or lost due to malfunctions and pilot errors in military actions, despite all the excellent performance of this aircraft.

b 52 bomber characteristics

Flight performance

Before the advent of the B-52, the best and most intimidating bomber of the United States was the “Super Fortress” - the B-29. This is undoubtedly an outstanding World War II heavy bomber, who played the greatest role in the war with Japan (Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered precisely from them).

However, this does not obscure the excellent qualities - the first production aircraft equipped with remote-controlled weapons, and many other unprecedented things were introduced into its production: fully sealed cabs, centralized fire control, for example. But this is nothing to compare with the new technologies that were used to equip the B-52. Flight characteristics differ literally in everything.The B-52 flies by a third more in height than the piston B-29, and the speed of the new aircraft is more than twice the speed of the “Super Fortress”. If altitude could guarantee safety ... Americans were happy for long.

Around the mid-fifties, Soviet anti-aircraft missiles could hit a target at an altitude of twenty-five kilometers and more. And in the sixtieth year of the Soviet air defense a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft of the USA was shot down - U-2. Then, even in the US Air Force, they realized that a rocket was a much more reliable means of delivering their nuclear weapons, since flight altitude is no longer a defense for a bomber. And since 1972, the B-52 has received a different weapon Aeroballistic missiles that hit fixed targets within one hundred and sixty kilometers became its equipment. Total SRAM nuclear warheads on board the B-52 was up to eight pieces.

In the eighties, these were already cruise missiles ALCM, which struck without a forced visit by a bomber to the air defense zone. In the sixties, US aircraft had more than six hundred B-52s, but later the old modifications began to be gradually removed from service, since they were replaced by a bomber-bomber.In 1993, three hundred and fifty aircraft were immediately utilized. Now in the US Air Force ninety-five B-52H.

Design B-52: technical specifications

The design of the bomber went according to the normal aerodynamic configuration, the arrangement of the wings, respectively, high. They equipped the plane with eight engines, which are located in twin engine nacelles. Wing all-metal caisson on two spars, with an installation angle of eight degrees and sweep on the leading edge of thirty-seven degrees. It was mechanized with two Fowler slit flaps, and on other versions (up to B-52F) there are spoilers and ailerons. In the root of the B-52G there are flows, which is a distinctive feature of this modification. The length of the aircraft is nearly fifty meters, and its wingspan is as much as fifty-six. The height of the B-52 is also not offended - it rises to twelve and a half meters. The maximum mass in flight is 256,735 kilograms. The fuselage type is a semi-monocoque with flat sides and an oval cross-section, in the front part there is a cabin for six crew members, consisting of two decks.

For the first time in the world, an absolutely sealed cabin appeared on this bomber.The upper cockpit is low, with a commander, a co-pilot and an electronic warfare operator sitting there. They catapult upwards.

In the lower cockpit sit scorer and navigator, they catapult down if the height of the flight is not less than seventy-six meters. Ahead and bottom of the fuselage is the entrance to the pilots. Previously, in all modifications up to the B-52F in the rear compartment, there was a gunner-observer who identified the enemy and his aircraft, and informed the commander about anti-aircraft missiles, if they were approaching, about engine or fuel leakage problems. In later versions of the B-52, the shooter's place was determined in the main cockpit, as the rest of the shooter team could get to the narrow manhole, and the cockpit itself would have to be depressurized.

Horizontal tail: stabilizer sweep at forty-two degrees and the keel with a rudder forty degrees. The keel can be folded up so that the plane can easily be placed in the hangar. The B-52 strategic bomber chassis has a bicycle scheme: four main two-wheel racks and two support racks at the ends of the wings. The chassis is removed, turning almost ninety degrees, into the niches that are located in front of and behind the weapons bay.At maximum speed and at high altitudes, the B-52 is capable of moving at a speed of nine hundred and fifty-seven kilometers per hour, and its cruising speed is “only” eight hundred and nineteen. The combat radius of this bomber is seven thousand two hundred and ten, and the fermentation range is seventeen thousand kilometers.

strategic bomber b 52

Engines and navigation

In the power plant B-52 eight engines, which are located on the underwing pylons in twin gondolas. Engines on these planes of various modifications, depending on the series, but it is always the same manufacturer - the turbofan engines of the Pratt & Whitney J57. Two-shaft engine with a seven-stage HP compressor - high pressure, nine-stage LP compressor - low pressure, two-stage LP turbine, single-stage HP turbine and a combustion chamber - a tubular ring. Two hanging fuel tanks and ten soft fuselage tanks, which are located in the wing box. In addition, there is a receiver to refuel the B-52 in the air, it is located directly behind the cockpit.

Navigation and bombing systems of this aircraft - by analogy with its predecessors. The first modifications had a rangefinder, radar APS-23, an optical sight for bombing (later it was removed as useless).In later versions of the B-52, an optical electronics system was installed for review - AN / ASQ-151, with its help the plane could go around all obstacles at low altitude.

In addition, there is such a useful thing as an infrared system for viewing the front hemisphere. The perimeter infrared system is a receiver and transmitter of optical radiation, and if the rays are interrupted, the pilots are warned by the detector that damage to the aircraft may occur.

Also, the B-52 has a camera for low illumination. The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress really lives up to its name: it is a fortress flying in the stratosphere, equipped with one of the most powerful types of electronic warfare system. Here and equipment staged - for misinformation, for noise interference, as well as dipole reflectors and heat traps. The B-52G and B-52H bombers also have AN / ALQ-122 REB (electronic suppression) systems that can combat enemy radar. Equipped with these planes and transmitters of interference, there is a special equipment on them warning of radar exposure. Pulse-Doppler tail protection station - AN / ALQ-153, and interference transmitters - AN / ALT-28. All this useful arsenal weighs about three tons - only equipment for electronic warfare.


For carrying ammunition in the bomber provides pylons under the wings and weapons compartment. Depending on the modification, pylons could carry up to fifty one bombs, sometimes smaller ones. The HSAB pylons (Heavy Stores Adapter Beam) provide space for only nine bombs each, which means only forty-five, and AGM-28 pylons fifty-one. In addition to the pylons, there is a weapons bay, where offensive weapons are placed much more. It must be remembered that the aircraft was created exclusively for carrying nuclear weapons. Its first modifications were armed with freely falling bombs of various types placed in the weapons bay. The maximum compartment was loaded at 22,680 kilograms, and together with the pylons the bomb load was thirty-one and a half tons.

From 1961 to 1976, the B-52 bombers armed themselves with guided missiles with a nuclear warhead AGM-28. This gave the aircraft the opportunity not to enter the zone of destruction of enemy air defense and even get very well-protected targets. The mid-eighties brought a new modernization to the bomber, the purpose of which was to adapt the aircraft to carry twelve AGM-86B cruise missiles.At the same time, sixty-nine B-52G barbers were converted to non-nuclear weapons. Seven of them were equipped with Harpoon anti-ship missiles, others with high-precision guided missiles developed by Israeli designers - AGM-142 (Raptor). Until 1994, there was also a six-barrel M61 (Vulcan) cannon in the tail of the bomber, it was already missing in the modifications of the following years, and the guns were dismantled from the old bomber.

B-52 flight performance

Modifications B-52

The prototypes of the B-52 were YB-52 and XB-52, which were built before the serial production of the aircraft, but still the first machine was a B-52A bomber from an already production series, although only three such aircraft were made. On its tail was a tower for a four-barreled machine gun. The cockpit was also different changes from all previous samples. NB-52A from a bomber turned into a research vehicle that launched a rocket plane in 1950. But on the B-52B can already speak in detail. Adopted in 1955, and the US Air Force noted the excellent advanced powerplant, very high-quality and modern navigation equipment.

Fifty such aircraft were made, they were only withdrawn from service in 1966. The RB-52B reconnaissance aircraft was distinguished by the fact that reconnaissance equipment — various radio emission detectors and cameras — was installed instead of bombs in the armament compartment. Here the crew was expanded to eight people.

NB-52B - in the singular, served as a North American X-15 launch vehicle since 1967. B-52C - chassis model, produced in 1955 and 1956, respectively. The engines were much more powerful than all the previous ones - J57-PW-19W, they also needed more fuel tanks. These planes built thirty-five. B-52D is almost the same, the engines are the same, reconnaissance equipment on this bomber did not stand. B-52E were produced before the end of 1958, also with new engines, but the navigation equipment was significantly improved, as was the aiming one. They already had the function of in-flight refueling. These bombers could wear AGM-28 Hound Dog missiles.

Second generation bomber

In 1958 and 1959, eighty-nine B-52F aircraft were launched, which took an active part during the Vietnam War. Their J57-PW-43WA engines had an improved fuel injection system and the latest generators.But the most massive modification is still the B-52G, they were made in the amount of one hundred and ninety-three copies. This model is distinguished by a reduced keel and a modified wing design. The cabin also began to look different. The commander, co-pilot and bombing operators were now sitting face down in flight, while the EW operator and the gunner looked back. In the seventies, the B-52G also received the AN \ ASQ-151 optical electronics system and the new AGM-69 SRAM missile equipment. And in the eighties, weapons were added with the AGM-86B cruise missiles.

The following modification did not add structural changes, but it was equipped with engines that were particularly economical - TF33-P-3. In addition, the onboard equipment and the EW system were improved and another weapon control system was installed. In 1996, the implementation of the B-52 retrofit project began. Four British engines RB211 534E-4 (Rolls Royce), having a thrust of 19,400 kgf, nearly appeared on this modification. Did not work out.

But in 2007, the only bomber of the series remaining in service with the United States Air Force was equipped with a suspension container for a laser-guided thermal imaging system Lightening.Engines TF33-PW-3/103 received a modification of the B-52H, such planes were made one hundred and two. And the last bomber of this series left the factory halls in 1960.

B-52 Specifications

Combat use

B-52 bombers received battle baptism in Vietnam, where their participation did not cease throughout the course of this war - from 1965 to 1973. During the Arc Light (the so-called all military operations in which the B-52 participated in the territories of Southeast Asia), one hundred twenty-six sorties were flown. Here it should be noted that one flight cost the US budget forty thousand dollars. There was also an operation Linebacker II in 1972, when massive bombardments were carried out non-stop for twelve days.

Seven hundred and twenty-nine combat missions were committed and nearly sixteen thousand tons of bombs were dropped on Haiphong and Hanoi. But sometimes the Vietnamese American bombers did get at their almost inaccessible height. Especially distinguished North Vietnam. Fifteen B-52 anti-aircraft batteries were shot down only during this operation. According to the American data, only thirty such planes were killed during the entire war, most of these losses were not combat.

Our days

In 1991, the Persian Gulf War began, where seventy bombers took part, making more than one and a half thousand sorties, but lost only one, and six were damaged. In 1996, the B-52 bombed Baghdad - its power plants mainly. In 1998, they flew "open the doors" to Iraq in company with England. In 1999, the B-52 bombed the state in the very center of Europe - Yugoslavia - for two and a half months, where about 1,700 people died, and more than ten thousand were injured. Nearly five hundred children "caught" these "gifts" from the sky - all to the death.

In 2001, the Afghan war began and cannot end. The main role in it was played by the B-52 Stratofortress bombers, who used satellite and laser guidance, but the civilian population still died nemeryannom. It would be strange if it were otherwise: BLU-82 / B aerial bombs were used there, nicknamed “daisy cutters” with humor. In fact, this is a super-heavy bomb, the most powerful weapon to date, except for a nuclear one.

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