Military Review

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, half a century in service (part of 1)


3 March 1992. Two B-52G airplanes took off from the US air base Barksdale (Louisiana) taking the course to Russia. After 12 hours, passing the Atlantic Ocean and refueling in the air over England from the accompanying tanker KS-10А, they found themselves in the heart of Russia - over Ryazan. So 40 years later, after its creation, the B-52 strategic bomber made the first flight it was intended to carry out. However, the B-52 aircraft that appeared in Russian airspace did not carry weapons and carried out a purely peaceful mission - it was a friendly visit to Diaghilev air base, where celebrations on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the distant aviation Russia.

It is unlikely that the designers of the company Boeing, who developed this famous heavy aircraft, which for a long time personified the military power of the United States and was considered to be a symbol of the Pax Americana (just as the British battleships embodied Pax Britannis) a century before, assumed that time, their most likely adversary, over time, again, as in the years of the Second World War, which have just ended, will become almost a potential ally, and their “offspring” will be so hospitable in the Russian sky. However, it is likely that the pragmatists-Americans at Boeing didn’t set themselves the enemy’s image, but simply sought to get another large order and with maximum efficiency fulfilled the technical task assigned to them by the military department: to create a second-generation heavy intercontinental bomber to replace the Convair B- aircraft. 36 - the first American strategic combat JIA with intercontinental range, designed for action against Nazi Germany, and after the end of the Second World War Retargeted us on nuclear strike against the Soviet Union.

The design assignment for the new bomber was advanced: it was made in January 1946, a few months before the start of flight tests of the B-36 aircraft (August 1946), and two years before the start of its mass production. A plane was required that had a range of 8050 km with a bomb load of 4,5 t at an average flight speed of 480 km / h and capable of speeds up to 724 km / h at a working height of 10,7 km. The Boeing Company, which immediately began designing the aircraft, won the project competition and in June 1946 received a contract for further work.

The choice of Boeing was quite natural. All история This company, established in 1916, is closely associated with the US Air Force. The Boeing Company built its first military aircraft (training “model EA”) at 1917 by order of its predecessor, the US Air Force, the aviation department of the American Army communications corps. 1920-ies Boeing gained fame as the main supplier of fighter aircraft for the US Air Force Corps (MW-3, P-12, P-26), and in 1930-ies engaged in the design of heavy bombers, who had to fight primarily with maritime objectives (according to the isolationist policies pursued at the time, the United States did not intend to intervene again in wars in Europe and intended to confine itself to the defense of the American continent, in accordance with the Monroe Doctrine, and its possessions in the Pacific). Created by 1935, the Flying Fortress B-17 (“Flying Fortress”) aircraft and built almost simultaneously with the Russian TB-7 (ANT-42, Pe-8, 1936) were the world's first long-range bombers flight with high speed and combat load, capable of delivering powerful strikes against targets from the air. 1937 Boeing attempted to create an even heavier XB-15 bomber, but its efforts were crowned with success only during the Second World War: the BF-29 Superfortress (Over-Strength) aircraft, which went down in history with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, became the crown of the work of the company Boeing in the field of heavy bomber piston aircraft. As is known, a copy of this machine was produced in the USSR under the designation Tu-4 and allowed to significantly raise the level of production technology in the domestic aviation industry.

Boeing B-52G bomber scheme

The atomic weapon created at the end of the Second World War was the strongest deterrent of the post-war period. However, as B. Brodie, an American military analyst, wrote, “the decisive factor is not so much the size of the stockpiles of nuclear weapons as the ability to deliver them to the target.” Until the arrival of intercontinental ballistic missiles at the end of the 1950, heavy bombers were the only means of delivering these weapons to a long range. Therefore, it is not surprising that the USSR and the USA, two post-war superpowers, directed all their efforts towards the development of strategic bombers carrying nuclear weapons. The US priority of these works was emphasized by the creation in March of 1946 of a strategic aviation command within the Air Force, which since September 1947 separated from the army into an independent third type of US armed forces (previously even military operations of the second world war could not force the leadership of the armed forces USA to take this step, despite the insistent demands of representatives of the Air Force).

RB-36F modified reconnaissance aircraft based on the Convair B-36 bomber

Pe-8 bomber designed by V.M. Petlyakov

Piston aircraft was nearing its decline. The US B-29 aircraft and its modifications B-50 and B-54 (draft), which were available to the USA, did not have sufficient payload, range and speed of flight. The Mastodon B-36 - the last of the American piston bombers - in terms of payload and range met the requirements of the beginning of the atomic century, but by the end of the 1940-s it was already outdated morally (its development began in 1941, when the American leadership decided that The US must be able to fight Germany from its territory in the event of England being defeated), and although it was removed from service only in 1958, its speed is even in the latest version of B-36J (using four TRDs in addition to six piston engines) not provide shaft the necessary security by fighter jets potential enemy. Even with a cursory acquaintance with the programs of the new American bombers of the second half of the 1940-s, they are amazed at their abundance, the scale of the work on the search for new constructive-layout solutions suitable for the coming era of jet aircraft. Both radical schemes (XB-53 with reverse wing sweep and “flying wing” YB-49) and normal ones with different configuration of power plants were considered. A huge role in shaping the appearance of new American aircraft was played by German captured materials, thanks to which, in particular, the introduction of swept wings was significantly accelerated. The largest American firms (Boeing, North American, Convair, Martin) actively participated in the work, trying to find their place in the period of a sharp post-war reduction of military orders.

Boeing XB-15 bomber escorted by fighter

Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress": target hit

The development of new layout schemes was conducted on medium bombers, many of which went into series. Creating a much more expensive intercontinental bomber required the informed choice of his scheme at the design stage. Initially, the Boeing company envisaged the creation of an aircraft with a turboprop engine and over the course of two years, it studied more than 30 variants of a strategic bomber with different take-off weight and wing and engine configuration. TVD allowed to achieve the required relatively low airspeed (it is quite likely that the initial terms of reference were compiled by the military with regard to the use of a combined power plant, as is the case with the B-36). At the first stage, it was supposed to use a straight wing (462 model with six single-screw theater engines), then a choice was made in favor of the swept wing, and at the last turboprop design variant (four-turbo engine model), coaxial screws were assumed. Also known is the XB-464 medium bomber project put forward by the company in 35 with four theater engines, which bring coaxial screws.

However, by that time, in the course of flight tests, the B-47 medium bomber, created in parallel by Boeing, had a well-established scheme with a moderately swept long elongation and turbojet engines located in the nacelles under the wing. Listening to the recommendations of the well-known German designer V. Voigt, who after the Second World War became the adviser of the bomber department of the command and logistics of the US Air Force, the US military leadership also began to lean towards the use of turbojets that promised higher speed characteristics of the aircraft German specialist - aerodynamic B. Gebert, who later took part in the assessment of the layout of the wing of the aircraft B-52). As a result, the company decided to use the B-47 aircraft scheme on a new bomber, having slightly sacrificed its flight range to achieve a higher speed. As is known, a similar choice in favor of TRD was made on its ZM aircraft and the Russian OKB by V.M. Myasishchev, while the Tu.O.N. Tupolev design bureau, when designing the Tu-95, focused on more economical engines with coaxial screws.

Scheme HV-15

In October 1948, the Boeing Company, presented the final version of the preliminary draft of the bomber (model 464-49) with eight JD3 turbojet engines (later received the designation J57), which had 150 t at X takeoff weight and 4,5 combat load and 4930 km maximum range and maximum speed / h In March 910, a new contract was signed with the company, providing for the construction of two prototypes. Work on the program was accelerated and its funding was increased after the start of the Korean war in the summer of 1949. By 1950, during the design process, the take-off weight of the aircraft was increased to 1951 t to increase the flight range.

The construction of the first prototype XB-52 aircraft, carried out under strict secrecy, was completed on 29 on November 1951, but due to the need to make changes to its design on the first 15 on April 1952, the second prototype YB-52 began flight tests. Flight tests of the XB-52 aircraft began on 2 in October 1952. During the development of the aircraft, the volume of tests in ADT was about 6500 hours. The US Air Force decided to insure against difficulties in the B-52 program and in March 1951 attracted the company Conver to work on the strategic bomber YB-60, which according to the general scheme (swept wing with eight turbofan engines on the underwing pylons) was close to B-52, but retained the design of the B-36 aircraft fuselage and had a thicker wing. Flight tests of the experienced YB-60 began in April 1952, but the successful course of the B-52 program allowed to abandon the YB-60, and the decision on the serial production of the B-52 was made even before the first flight of its prototype.

The first of the three pre-production aircraft, B-52A, designed for operational tests, made the first flight of 5 August 1954, the arrival of the aircraft into service began with the transfer of 29 June 1955, the first aircraft B-52 to the training unit of the US Air Force strategic aviation command and in June 1956, the first B-52 aircraft in the combat unit. Total 1952- 1962 744 aircraft were built, among which besides the two experimental and three pre-production aircraft were the following options:

Boeing HV-44 prototype b-50 bomber

Scout Boeing RB-50B

B-52 (first flight of the first 25 aircraft on January 1955, built by 23 in 1955).
reconnaissance RB-52B (27 to 1955),
B-52 (March 9 1956, 35 to 1956),
B-52D (4 June 1956 g., 170 to 1956-1958 gg.),
B-52S (3 October 1957 g., 100 to 1957-1958 gg.),
B-52F (May 6 1958, 89 to 1958),
B-52G (October 26 1958, 193 to 1958-1961),
B- 52H (6 March 1961 g., 102 to 1961-1962 gg.).

Several aircraft were converted to the GB-52G, GB-52D and GB-52F versions for use in ground crew training. One of the bombers was converted into the NB-52 variant, which was used as a carrier for the North American X-15 experimental hypersonic aircraft (the first separation from the carrier was made on 8 June 1959). The modified B-52 aircraft were also used as carriers of the HL10 / M2F3 / X-24 main body (predecessors of the Space Shuttle VKS) and (from the middle of 1960's to 1973) of the Lockheed D-XNNX unmanned reconnaissance aircraft Lock-D-21-x to X-NUMX, Lock-D-XNNX unmanned reconnaissance aircraft Lock-D-5-x to 1990. the air launch of the cruise Pegas carrier rocket (the first launch took place on 747 on April 5), as flying laboratories for various studies (for example, to test the engines of Boeing XNUMX and Lockheed C-XNUMX).

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, half a century in service (part of 1)
Scheme bomber Conwer XB-53

Scheme bomber Boeing XB-55

The first experienced Boeing XB-52

The first hydrogen bomb was dropped from B-52 21 in May 1956. In the following years, a number of record flights demonstrated high aircraft performance: in November 1956, non-stop flights were performed around the North American continent and across the North Pole with a range of 27000 km; 18 January 1957. Three B-52 bomber made a round-the-world flight, flying 39750 km in 45 h 19 m at an average speed of about 850 km / h; 11 January 1962. The aircraft set a distance record without refueling in flight, breaking 20168 km in 22 h 9 m. Part of the B-52 aircraft for many years carried a constant alert on the airfields in readiness for take-off with nuclear weapons on board. 1960 for several years, around the clock in the air was organized around 10 of the B-52 aircraft. By the fall of 1963, in order to reduce the probability of hitting the B-52 aircraft on the ground, the transition to the distributed 42 basing of formed squadrons (15 aircraft in each) was completed on at least 36 aerodromes. By 1988, the number of airbases with B-52 bombers decreased to 12. By this time, all the planes had flown 6,6 million hrs, the 71 plane was lost in flight accidents. By the beginning of the 1990s, the 40 strategic bombers B-52 and B-1 were on permanent combat duty. In September 1991, due to a change in the geopolitical situation as a result of the collapse of the USSR, US President George W. Bush announced that they would be removed from duty in a state of readiness for a nuclear strike.

Scheme of the ZM / М4 bomber of the OKB VM Myasischev

B-52 was created as a high-altitude bomber for attacks using free-fall nuclear bombs. The high precision of the bombing was not decisive, because the B-52, like the Soviet strategic bombers of the same period (ZM, Tu-95), was equipped with a telescopic sight, which made it possible to increase the accuracy of bombing and, therefore, with one parties, to guarantee a higher probability of hitting the designated targets, and on the other, to reduce unintended damage to civilian objects and the public. Nevertheless, in the 1960-ies during the war in Southeast Asia, where strategic B-52 was used for operational and tactical purposes as a carrier of non-nuclear bombs, the United States, using the "scorched earth" tactics, used it mainly for carpet bombing , which caused a sharp negative assessment of the world community. In the latest versions of the aircraft (B-52G and H), optical sights, apparently, are generally removed, and bombs are dropped according to the navigation system and using a radar sight. As a result, during the 1991 war in the Persian Gulf zone, the actions of B-52 were limited to carpet bombing of squares.

The working height of the B-52 flight was by a third, and the cruising speed was about twice as high as that of the piston B-29. This significantly increased the survival rate of the aircraft in flight. The 1950's success in the high-altitude scheme of using the B-52 aircraft carrying nuclear weapons was convincing to the US leadership of the rather bold high-altitude flight of American reconnaissance aircraft in the Soviet airspace, which in many cases remained unpunished due to the lack of high altitude Soviet interceptors and the lack of reliable anti-aircraft missiles. In May 1955, Moscow was taken under guaranteed protection: the first national anti-aircraft missile system S-25 “Berkut” with a range of heights of targets 3-25 km, developed in KB, which is now known as NPO Almaz, was adopted. But a crushing blow to the concept of a high-altitude bomber was 1 on May 1960, the largest success of the Soviet air defense forces at that time - the destruction of intelligence officer Lockheed U-2 piloted by Sverdlovsk, piloted by G. Powers (the plane was destroyed by the first missile, it was launched by combat crew, led by Major Mikhail Voronin).

Another U-2 was shot down on 27 in October by 1962 on Cuba during the Caribbean crisis. In both cases, the C-75 anti-aircraft missile system, also developed by the Almaz Scientific Production Association, and capable (unlike the stationary C-25), thanks to mobility, was deployed in all the zones to be protected. According to some reports, the baptism of the complex occurred earlier - October 7 1959. There is evidence that on that day, in the Soviet capital's area, three Soviet-made C-75 anti-aircraft missiles of the Soviet production destroyed the Chiang Ishisky high-speed reconnaissance unit RB-57D at an altitude of 20600 m (fire Chinese military crews, but Soviet military engineers participated in the training of the equipment and personnel that fired. One may also note the case of using the 16 complex in November 1959, when a C-75 fire near Volgograd at the height of 28000 was shot down by an American balloon launched for reconnaissance purposes. The characteristics of the C-75 ADMS, which was approved by 1957 in November, allowed him to fight all the aerodynamic targets at that time in the world: the target destruction range was 34 km in the Desna variant and was brought to 43 km in the “Volkhov” variant, the target height range was equal to 3 ... 22 km in the original version “Dvina”, and then expanded to 0,5… 30 km (“Desna”) or 0,4… 30 km (“Volkhov”), maximum speed of the targets hit 2300 km / h ("Volkhov").

Scheme of a Tu-95 bomber with the OKB ANN Tupolev

To increase the survival of the B-52 aircraft during air defense breakthrough at high altitude, it was equipped with the ADM-20 Quayle missile targets and armed with UR North American AGM-28 Hound Dog, intended for fire suppression of the air defense missile system with subsequent destruction of strategic targets bombs or for the direct destruction of strong targets without entering the zone of enemy air defense. However, the effectiveness of the C-75 air defense system against high-altitude targets forced the Americans to conclude at the beginning of the 1960-s that the chances of B-52 overcoming Soviet air defense systems would retain only a significant decrease in the enemy's detection range of the bomber and, as a result, a sharp reduction in available time for interception its flight by anti-aircraft missiles and fighter-interceptors. The simplest and most efficient of practical ways to achieve this was to go to low flight altitudes (up to 150 m), which required improvements in aircraft equipment and making changes around 120 to harden the design (in particular, in 1972-1977 using the program Passer Planck "cost 219 million dollars were replaced wings on 80 aircraft B-52D). The inclusion of a low-altitude segment in the flight profile significantly reduced the flight range of the aircraft (for example, for variant B-52H from 16100 km without air refueling to 11700 km with one refueling at low altitude 4450 km) due to increased fuel consumption by engines.

However, with the reinforced design of the B-52, of course, can not be considered low-altitude aircraft. Despite the high specific load on the wing (more than 500 kg / m2 with mass 190 t), the large wing elongation and relatively low rigidity of the structure lead to the fact that the aircraft responds strongly to wind gusts: even at moderate atmospheric turbulence, flying at a speed of 600 km / h at the height of 300 m may be accompanied by overloads in the cabin from + 4 to -2 from exposure to air gusts. Therefore, during low-altitude flight in a turbulent atmosphere, the aircraft mass is subject to restrictions: from 113,4 t to 190,5 t (depending on the degree of turbulence) at a speed on the 500 instrument km / h. Training flights in a relaxed atmosphere are conducted at altitudes up to 120 m, but to reduce the rate of use of the life of airplanes, training low-altitude flights are generally canceled if moderate turbulence is predicted on the route. In fact, in combat operations (Vietnam, the Persian Gulf), the B-52 was used only for high-altitude bombing.

Later on, a powerful on-board electronic warfare system was also installed on the B-52, in the beginning of the 1970-s, instead of the Hound Dog missiles, SRAM missiles were adopted as a means of fire suppression of air defense missiles, and in the beginning of the 1980-s, cruise missiles appeared in service ALCM, significantly improved the possibility of striking without entering the enemy air defense zone. However, this method of attack became standard in the 1990-s after reaching combat readiness by the Rockwell B-1B strategic bombers, and in the 1980-s the standard mission provided for the use of firearms to suppress the enemy’s air defenses with a subsequent breakthrough for a nuclear strike using SPB or SRAM missiles.

Second experienced Boeing YB-52

Konver YB-60

The fleet of the B-52 aircraft that were simultaneously in service, peaked at the beginning of the 1960s. and totaled significantly more 600 bombers. 1965-1984 Options B-52 to B-52F were removed from service. By the beginning of 1992, the X-NUMX of the B-254 (52 B-159G and 52 B-95H) aircraft remained in service with the US Air Force, of which 52 B-33G were permanently re-focused on non-nuclear missions using conventional bombs and anti-ship missiles. Harpoon".

In August, 1993, at the Davis-Montan airbase (pieces of Arizona), began the destruction of the 350 aircraft of the B-52 aircraft in accordance with the Treaty on strategic offensive arms, previously signed with the USSR. Special "guillotine" cuts each plane into five parts. The composition of the regular Air Force left only 95 B-52H.

The price of one aircraft was 8,7 million at the rate of 1962. From the end of 1970 to the end of 1980, 52 billion were spent on upgrading the B-5 aircraft. The average cost of one flight of the B-52 aircraft during the Vietnam War was 41421 dollars (according to 1970), at the end of 1980-s - 37170 dollars (taking into account the average cost of one flight hour 5900 dollars and the average duration of a training flight 6,3 h). The average labor intensity of servicing B-52 on 1993 was 33-41 man-hours.
Articles from this series:
Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, half a century in service (part of 1)
Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, half a century in service (part of 2)
Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, half a century in service (part of 3)

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  1. Sakhalininsk
    Sakhalininsk 18 March 2013 07: 40 New
    Who would not say what, but our "bear" is much more interesting.
  2. avt
    avt 18 March 2013 08: 58 New
    Quote: Sakhalininets
    Who would not say what, but our "bear" is much more interesting.

    Well, it’s rather a matter of taste. Although the TU looks like a military one, the B-52 is mowed down by civilians, but the car is certainly outstanding. There is no doubt.
    1. Bad_gr
      Bad_gr 18 March 2013 21: 22 New
      There was information that the B-52 glider was not being developed from scratch, but they took the B-47 bomber glider and increased it proportionally. Usually, nothing good is obtained with this approach, but there is a rare exception - the result is not bad.
  3. 755962
    755962 18 March 2013 14: 17 New
    The world's first jet intercontinental bomber and one of the "record holders for active longevity" in its class. Soldier plane. The B-52 is an aircraft with a damn high combat potential.
    1. VAF
      VAF 18 March 2013 16: 16 New
      Quote: 755962
      The B-52 is a plane with a hell of a high combat potential. Like it or not ...

      Zhenya, +! And to the authors ... a note ... on March 3, not 2 B-52s came to Diaghilevo, but one and one KS-10A tanker (commander-sha K. Jones, 32 years old ... cute, and the crew are smart negros ... but she they were "equal" so that .. the smoke stood .. they listened without question).
      When they met, they thought they would not sit down, because. the weather was .... well, in general, "stones from the sky." as we say, and visibility .. 50 meters, but they have systems for our RTS not at all ..
      First the refueling tanker sat down, and then he himself .. Stratofortress .... the little refueling tanker, and the carrier is all dark coal.
      It's hard with a photo, because. "Chekists" were .. more than pilots.
      This was shot the very next day on March 4th and then ... published, so much so that the B-52nd wouldn’t get into the frame (so one right console), if ... suddenly they take ... Well ... bully
      1. VAF
        VAF 18 March 2013 17: 01 New
        Quote: vaf
        It's hard with a photo, because. "Chekists" were .. more than pilots.

        The photo is not "attached" I try again .. "one run"! And then he seemed to say, but ... no fact ... wassat
        1. gribnik777
          gribnik777 18 March 2013 20: 54 New
          2003 year. Zhukovsky (sorry for the quality).
          1. Bad_gr
            Bad_gr 18 March 2013 21: 31 New
            [img] [/ img]
          2. Bad_gr
            Bad_gr 18 March 2013 21: 34 New
            2003 year. Zhukovsky
      2. madgol
        madgol 14 August 2014 00: 49 New
        all the same, it seems, 2 B-52s, I remember two coal planes, and in the photo there are 2
      3. madgol
        madgol 14 August 2014 00: 51 New
        >> It's hard with a photo, because. "Chekists" were .. more than pilots.
        there were no problems with the photo
  4. Takashi
    Takashi 18 March 2013 14: 48 New
    caught my eyes that maintenance in hours is much less than for a "bear".
    NOBODY EXCEPT US 18 March 2013 15: 31 New
    It’s interesting and informative, as they say, live and learn for a century (you will die a fool) .......
  6. smprofi
    smprofi 18 March 2013 17: 19 New
    interesting article, thanks. but in some places it feels like a bite of text. some inconsistencies.

    in Vietnam, the gringos called the C-75 missiles contemptuously "flying poles" because of their low accuracy. only now ... if such a "pillar" flew ahead along the course of the B-52, then, usually, the pilot immediately pressed the bomb release and left the course. giggle giggle, but you want to live.

    about U-2 Dragon Lady and how it was shot down: according to Chinese data, nine U-2s were shot down over the PRC (the text mentions the "legendary" Francis Gary Powers and was shot down over Cuba).

    True, Taiwan did not fly over China, but Taiwanese pilots

  7. Avenger711
    Avenger711 18 March 2013 19: 11 New
    I would like to meet such a Su-27 in battle ... It probably explodes beautifully ...
    1. smprofi
      smprofi 18 March 2013 21: 52 New
      Quote: Avenger711
      I would like to meet such a Su-27 in battle

      B-52 and MiG-21 met. only the survivability of the B-52 is good.
      Wa Dinh Rank November 20, 1971 launched a missile on the B-52. the bomber was damaged, but went on an emergency landing in Thailand.
      1. ICT
        ICT 19 March 2013 00: 44 New
        at one time I saw a photo from the Akhtuba training ground, instantly - 29 shot a TU-16 target aircraft, he shot it down only with a fourth missile