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If you're looking for the highest quality photo available of this image, then I'm confident that you've found it. We actually do things different here, mixing the best of today's print and restoration technologies with old fashioned hard work and artistry. People still make the artistic decisions, not computers. And we print real light exposed and chemical processed prints using Kodak Professional Endura archival photo paper, not just ink jet prints, mass produced posters or the pitiful photocopies that are sold by hundreds of online sellers. Since our start online in , we've served more than 30, customers, and every one of them started by contemplating whether we were offering something special, something worthy of their hard earned dollars. We know that terms like "fine art," "archival," and "best" are thrown around very loosely in this business, with most of those prints being mass produced lower resolution poster prints, at best. Posters can be great, and we sell some elsewhere on this site, but what you are buying here is a REAL PHOTOGRAPH!

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B Cockpit Instrument Panel

About Our Photographs

If you're looking for the highest quality photo available of this image, then I'm confident that you've found it. We actually do things different here, mixing the best of today's print and restoration technologies with old fashioned hard work and artistry. People still make the artistic decisions, not computers. And we print real light exposed and chemical processed prints using Kodak Professional Endura archival photo paper, not just ink jet prints, mass produced posters or the pitiful photocopies that are sold by hundreds of online sellers. Since our start online in , we've served more than 30, customers, and every one of them started by contemplating whether we were offering something special, something worthy of their hard earned dollars. We know that terms like "fine art," "archival," and "best" are thrown around very loosely in this business, with most of those prints being mass produced lower resolution poster prints, at best. Posters can be great, and we sell some elsewhere on this site, but what you are buying here is a REAL PHOTOGRAPH!

We expertly retouch and restore old historic images to be as good or better looking than the originals. We start by finding the highest quality negative, print or digital file that is known to exist. Each photograph then gets individual attention from one of our print masters (Britney, Kevin or Robert) and is meticulously restored with special attention to color reproduction, contrast, exposure and dust and scratch removal. Each photograph is then printed on REAL chemically processed archival photo paper. The combination of expert artistry, today's professional lab print technology and only archival print materials, results in a museum quality fine art print that rivals, or in most cases exceeds, the beauty and quality of the original. At Robert McMahan Photography, you are always buying the best!

Each print is given a final inspection before leaving the studio, then is sealed in archival plastic with a backing board to protect it till you are ready to display it. Every shipment is fully insured, so you will always get a pristine print. Most importantly, every order is backed by our 30 Day % GUARANTEE! In the unlikely event that your print is damaged in shipment, or if you don't like it for any reason, you are entitled to your choice of having us correct the problem, exchanging it, or returning it for a refund. Isn't that the way it should be? We really want to make you into one of our raving fans!

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Robert McMahan
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Privacy, Please: Air Force Wants to Add Toilet Curtain on B Bomber

The U.S. Air Force is looking to add privacy curtains to its B Stratofortress bombers as more women join flight crews.

Earlier this month, the service published a request for information from textile or apparel companies about bomber privacy screens.

"As the B continues to fly long duration missions, especially with mixed crews, there is a higher need for privacy during rest room activities," according to the solicitation, posted on the government's acquisition and awards website.

The service's bombers, including the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit, have been making a splash lately with multiple high-visibility flights around the world. Called Bomber Task Force missions, the short-notice flights are still a long haul: A B crew, for example, can stay airborne for up to 40 hours during a single mission and can fly 8, miles without refueling, according to the Air Force.

Read Next: The Marine Corps Is Developing a Better-Fitting, More Functional PT Uniform

Many Air Force planes already have private bathroom compartments, or partitioned spaces.

The C Hercules has a urinal and toilet tucked back in the cargo area of the plane, with a curtain airmen can close around them. C Globemaster III transport aircraft and KC Pegasus tankers have a full lavatory with sink, toilet and lockable door; KC Stratotanker, KC Extender and C-5 Super Galaxy aircraft all have lockable doors as well, said Air Force Materiel Command spokesman Brian Brackens.

But those mobility aircraft are much more spacious on the inside, allowing for more comfortable latrine use than their bomber counterparts.

The B-1 bomber, for instance, has a small toilet behind the left front seat in the four-person cockpit, while the B-2 stealth bomber has "one stainless-steel bowl, no walls" behind the right seat of its two-pilot cockpit, according to Popular Mechanics.

In the B, a small urinal is located behind the offense compartment, according to photos featured on Popular Science. A B typically has two pilots, a weapons officer and an electronic warfare officer, but can have up to five crew, according to the Air Force.

Crew members must use a bag to defecate and dispose of it when the bomber's mission is over, an Air Force spokesperson told Military.com.

The latest initiative coincides with the service's overall effort to create a more inclusive culture and remove barriers -- some that can affect career longevity -- for women in the service.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, part of Materiel Command, launched a project in focused on gathering female perspectives to deliver better uniforms, including maternity uniforms and flight suits.

Then-Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein prompted the mission to redesign female uniforms after many years of ill-fitting equipment. The effort has been supported by the Department of the Air Force's Barrier Analysis Working Group within the Women's Initiative Team, which has been instrumental in encouraging change for outdated or restrictive policies.

In August, the Air Force moved to give airmen who suffer a miscarriage a more flexible time period before they take their next physical fitness assessment. The following month, the service directed unit commanders to create improved, easier-to-use lactation spaces for nursing moms, including the ability to pump during a field or training exercise, if feasible.

The military overall is responding to increased numbers of women in the ranks with improved dress and appearance practices, and new policies. Women currently make up about 21% of the Air Force, officials have said.

Air Force Global Strike Command did not immediately answer questions on how many women are in the B bomber community. Despite its age, the venerable, Cold War-era Stratofortress is expected to fly into the s.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana

Related: Air Force to Allow Female Airmen to Wear Longer Braids, Ponytails

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Boeing B Stratofortress

American strategic bomber with the US Air Force since

"B" and "BUFF" redirect here. For other uses, see B (disambiguation) and BUFF (disambiguation).

The Boeing B Stratofortress is an American long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. The B was designed and built by Boeing, which has continued to provide support and upgrades. It has been operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since the s. The bomber is capable of carrying up to 70, pounds (32,&#;kg) of weapons,[2] and has a typical combat range of more than 8,&#;miles (14,&#;km) without aerial refueling.[3]

Beginning with the successful contract bid in June , the B design evolved from a straight wing aircraft powered by six turboprop engines to the final prototype YB with eight turbojet engines and swept wings. The B took its maiden flight in April Built to carry nuclear weapons for Cold War-era deterrence missions, the B Stratofortress replaced the Convair B Peacemaker. A veteran of several wars, the B has dropped only conventional munitions in combat. The B's official name Stratofortress is rarely used; informally, the aircraft has become commonly referred to as the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fucker/Fella).[4][5][6][Note 1]

The B has been in service with the USAF since As of June [update], there are 76 aircraft in inventory; 58 operated by active forces (2nd Bomb Wing and 5th Bomb Wing), 18 by reserve forces (th Bomb Wing), and about 12 in long-term storage at the Davis-Monthan AFB Boneyard.[8][9][10][11][12] The bombers flew under the Strategic Air Command (SAC) until it was disestablished in and its aircraft absorbed into the Air Combat Command (ACC); in , all B Stratofortresses were transferred from the ACC to the new Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). Superior performance at high subsonic speeds and relatively low operating costs have kept them in service despite the advent of later, more advanced strategic bombers, including the Mach 2+ B Hustler, the canceled Mach 3 B Valkyrie, the variable-geometryB-1 Lancer, and the stealth B-2 Spirit. The B completed 60 years of continuous service with its original operator in After being upgraded between and , the last airplanes are expected to serve into the s.



On 23 November , Air Materiel Command (AMC) issued desired performance characteristics for a new strategic bomber "capable of carrying out the strategic mission without dependence upon advanced and intermediate bases controlled by other countries".[14] The aircraft was to have a crew of five or more turret gunners, and a six-man relief crew. It was required to cruise at &#;mph (&#;knots, &#;km/h) at 34,&#;feet (10,&#;m) with a combat radius of 5,&#;miles (4,&#;nautical miles, 8,&#;km). The armament was to consist of an unspecified number of 20&#;mm cannon and 10,&#;pounds (4,&#;kg) of bombs.[15] On 13 February , the USAF issued bid invitations for these specifications, with Boeing, Consolidated Aircraft, and Glenn L. Martin Company submitting proposals.[15]

On 5 June , Boeing's Model , a straight-wing aircraft powered by six Wright T35turboprops with a gross weight of ,&#;pounds (,&#;kg) and a combat radius of 3,&#;miles (2,&#;nmi, 5,&#;km), was declared the winner.[16] On 28 June , Boeing was issued a letter of contract for US$&#;million to build a full-scale mockup of the new XB and do preliminary engineering and testing.[17] However, by October , the USAF began to express concern about the sheer size of the new aircraft and its inability to meet the specified design requirements.[18] In response, Boeing produced the Model , a smaller four-engine version with a ,&#;pound (,&#;kg) gross weight, which was briefly deemed acceptable.[18][19]

Subsequently, in November , the Deputy Chief of Air Staff for Research and Development, General Curtis LeMay, expressed the desire for a cruising speed of &#;miles per hour ( kn, &#;km/h), to which Boeing responded with a ,&#;lb (,&#;kg) aircraft.[20] In December , Boeing was asked to change their design to a four-engine bomber with a top speed of &#;miles per hour, range of 12,&#;miles (10,&#;nmi, 19,&#;km), and the ability to carry a nuclear weapon; in total, the aircraft could weigh up to ,&#;pounds (,&#;kg).[21] Boeing responded with two models powered by T35 turboprops. The Model was a "nuclear only" bomber with a 10,&#;pound (4,&#;kg) payload, while the Model was a general purpose bomber with a 9,&#;pound (4,&#;kg) payload.[21] Due to the cost associated with purchasing two specialized aircraft, the USAF selected Model with the understanding that it could be adapted for nuclear strikes.[22]

In June , the military requirements were updated and the Model met all of them except for the range.[23] It was becoming obvious to the USAF that, even with the updated performance, the XB would be obsolete by the time it entered production and would offer little improvement over the Convair B Peacemaker; as a result, the entire project was postponed for six months.[24] During this time, Boeing continued to perfect the design, which resulted in the Model with a top speed of &#;miles per hour (&#;kn, &#;km/h) and a 5,mile range.[25] In September , the Heavy Bombardment Committee was convened to ascertain performance requirements for a nuclear bomber. Formalized on 8 December , these requirements called for a top speed of &#;miles per hour (&#;kn, &#;km/h) and an 8,&#;mile (7,&#;nmi, 13,&#;km) range, far beyond the capabilities of the [24][26]

The outright cancellation of the Boeing contract on 11 December was staved off by a plea from its president William McPherson Allen to the Secretary of the Air Force Stuart Symington.[27] Allen reasoned that the design was capable of being adapted to new aviation technology and more stringent requirements.[28] In January , Boeing was instructed to thoroughly explore recent technological innovations, including aerial refueling and the flying wing.[29] Noting stability and control problems Northrop was experiencing with their YB and YB flying wing bombers, Boeing insisted on a conventional aircraft, and in April presented a US$30&#;million (US$&#;million today[30]) proposal for design, construction, and testing of two Model prototypes.[31] Further revisions during resulted in an aircraft with a top speed of &#;miles per hour (&#;kn, &#;km/h) at 35,&#;feet (10,&#;m), a range of 6,&#;miles (6,&#;nmi, 11,&#;km), and a ,&#;pounds (,&#;kg) gross weight, which included 10,&#;pounds (4,&#;kg) of bombs and 19,&#;US&#;gallons (75,&#;L) of fuel.[32][33]

Design effort[edit]

XB prototype on flight line (X-4in foreground; Bbehind). Note original tandem-seat "bubble" style canopy, similar to Boeing's earlier B Stratojet.
Side view of YB bomber, still fitted with a tandem cockpit, in common with other jet bombers in US service, such as the B Tornado, B Stratojet and B Canberra

In May , AMC asked Boeing to incorporate the previously discarded jet engine, with improvements in fuel efficiency, into the design.[34] That resulted in the development of yet another revision—in July , Model substituted Westinghouse J40turbojets for the turboprops.[35] The USAF project officer who reviewed the Model was favorably impressed, especially since he had already been thinking along similar lines. Nevertheless, the government was concerned about the high fuel consumption rate of the jet engines of the day, and directed that Boeing still use the turboprop-powered Model as the basis for the XB Although he agreed that turbojet propulsion was the future, General Howard A. Craig, Deputy Chief of Staff for Materiel, was not very enthusiastic about a jet-powered B, since he felt that the jet engine had not yet progressed sufficiently to permit skipping an intermediate turboprop stage. However, Boeing was encouraged to continue turbojet studies even without any expected commitment to jet propulsion.[36][37]

On Thursday, 21 October , Boeing engineers George S. Schairer, Art Carlsen, and Vaughn Blumenthal presented the design of a four-engine turboprop bomber to the chief of bomber development, Colonel Pete Warden. Warden was disappointed by the projected aircraft and asked if the Boeing team could come up with a proposal for a four-engine turbojet bomber. Joined by Ed Wells, Boeing vice president of engineering, the engineers worked that night in The Hotel Van Cleve in Dayton, Ohio, redesigning Boeing's proposal as a four-engine turbojet bomber. On Friday, Colonel Warden looked over the information and asked for a better design. Returning to the hotel, the Boeing team was joined by Bob Withington and Maynard Pennell, two top Boeing engineers who were in town on other business.[38]

By late Friday night, they had laid out what was essentially a new airplane. The new design () built upon the basic layout of the B Stratojet with degree swept wings, eight engines paired in four underwings pods, and bicycle landing gear with wingtip outrigger wheels.[39] A notable feature of the landing gear was the ability to pivot both fore and aft main landing gear up to 20° from the aircraft centerline to increase safety during crosswind landings (allowing the aircraft to "crab" or roll with a sideways slip angle down the runway).[40] After a trip to a hobby shop for supplies, Schairer set to work building a model. The rest of the team focused on weight and performance data. Wells, who was also a skilled artist, completed the aircraft drawings. On Sunday, a stenographer was hired to type a clean copy of the proposal. On Monday, Schairer presented Colonel Warden with a neatly bound page proposal and a inch (36&#;cm) scale model.[38] The aircraft was projected to exceed all design specifications.[41]

Although the full-size mock-up inspection in April was generally favorable, range again became a concern since the J40s and early model J57s had excessive fuel consumption.[42] Despite talk of another revision of specifications or even a full design competition among aircraft manufacturers, General LeMay, now in charge of Strategic Air Command, insisted that performance should not be compromised due to delays in engine development.[43][44] In a final attempt to increase range, Boeing created the larger , stating that once in production, the range could be further increased in subsequent modifications.[45] Following several direct interventions by LeMay,[46] Boeing was awarded a production contract for thirteen BAs and seventeen detachable reconnaissance pods on 14 February [47] The last major design change—also at General LeMay's insistence—was a switch from the B style tandem seating to a more conventional side-by-side cockpit, which increased the effectiveness of the copilot and reduced crew fatigue.[48] Both XB prototypes featured the original tandem seating arrangement with a framed bubble-type canopy (see above images).[49]

Tex Johnston noted, "The B, like the B, utilized a flexible wing. I saw the wingtip of the B static test airplane travel 32 feet (&#;m), from the negative 1-G load position to the positive 4-G load position." The flexible structure allowed "the wing to flex during gust and maneuvering loads, thus relieving high-stress areas and providing a smoother ride." During a G pullup, "The wingtips appeared about 35 degrees above level flight position."[50]

Pre-production and production[edit]

During ground testing on 29 November , the XB's pneumatic system failed during a full-pressure test; the resulting explosion severely damaged the trailing edge of the wing, necessitating considerable repairs. The YB, the second XB modified with more operational equipment, first flew on 15 April with "Tex" Johnston as pilot.[51][52] A two-hour, minute proving flight from Boeing Field, King County, in Seattle, Washington to Larson Air Force Base was undertaken with Boeing test pilot Johnston and USAF Lieutenant Colonel Guy M. Townsend.[53] The XB followed on 2 October [54] The thorough development,[Note 2] including days in the wind tunnel and days of aerodynamic and aeroelastic testing, paid off with smooth flight testing. Encouraged, the USAF increased its order to Bs.[56]

Only three of the 13 BAs ordered were built.[65] All were returned to Boeing, and used in their test program.[57] On 9 June , the February contract was updated to order the aircraft under new specifications. The final 10, the first aircraft to enter active service, were completed as BBs.[57] At the roll-out ceremony on 18 March , Air Force Chief of Staff General Nathan Twining said:

The long rifle was the great weapon of its day.&#; today this B is the long rifle of the air age.[66][67]

The BB was followed by progressively improved bomber and reconnaissance variants, culminating in the BG and turbofan BH. To allow rapid delivery, production lines were set up both at its main Seattle factory and at Boeing's Wichita facility. More than 5, companies were involved in the huge production effort, with 41% of the airframe being built by subcontractors.[68] The prototypes and all BA, B and C models (90 aircraft)[69] were built at Seattle. Testing of aircraft built at Seattle caused problems due to jet noise, which led to the establishment of curfews for engine tests. Aircraft were ferried miles (&#;km) east on their maiden flights to Larson Air Force Base near Moses Lake, where they were fully tested.[70]

As production of the B came to an end, the Wichita factory was phased in for BD production, with Seattle responsible for D-models and Wichita [71] Both plants continued to build the BE, with 42 built at Seattle and 58 at Wichita,[72] and the BF (44 from Seattle and 45 from Wichita).[73] For the BG, Boeing decided in to transfer all production to Wichita, which freed up Seattle for other tasks, in particular, the production of airliners.[74][75] Production ended in with the BH, with aircraft built, plus the original two prototypes.[76]

Upgrades [edit]

A proposed variant of the BH was the EBH, which would have consisted of 16 modified and augmented BH airframes with additional electronic jamming capabilities.[77][78] This variant would have restored USAF airborne jamming capability that it lost on retiring the EF Raven. The program was canceled in following the removal of funds for the stand-off jammer. The program was revived in , and cut again in early [79]

In July , the USAF began a fleet-wide technological upgrade of its B bombers called Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) to modernize electronics, communications technology, computing, and avionics on the flight deck. CONECT upgrades include software and hardware such as new computer servers, modems, radios, data-links, receivers, and digital workstations for the crew. One update is the AN/ARC Warrior beyond-line-of-sight software programmable radio able to transmit voice, data, and information in-flight between Bs and ground command and control centers, allowing the transmission and reception of data with updated intelligence, mapping, and targeting information; previous in-flight target changes required copying down coordinates. The ARC allows machine-to-machine transfer of data, useful on long-endurance missions where targets may have moved before the arrival of the B The aircraft will be able to receive information through Link CONECT upgrades will cost $&#;billion overall and take several years. Funding has been secured for 30 Bs; the USAF hopes for 10 CONECT upgrades per year, but the rate has yet to be decided.[80]

Weapons upgrades include the Internal Weapons Bay Upgrade (IWBU), which gives a 66 percent increase in weapons payload using a digital interface (MIL-STD) and rotary launcher. IWBU is expected to cost roughly $&#;million.[80] The IWBU will allow the B to carry eight[81]JDAM &#;lb bombs, AGMB JASSM-ER cruise missile and the ADMC MALD-J decoy missiles internally. All IWBUs should be operational by October Two bombers will have the ability to carry 40 weapons in place of the 36 that three Bs can carry.[82] The IWBU allows precision-guided missiles or bombs to be deployed from inside the weapons bay; the previous aircraft carried these munitions externally on the wing hardpoints. This increases the number of guided weapons (Joint Direct Attack Munition or JDAM) a B can carry and reduces the need for guided bombs to be carried on the wings. The first phase will allow a B to carry twenty-four GBU pound guided bombs or twenty GBU 2,pound bombs, with later phases accommodating the JASSM and MALD family of missiles.[83] In addition to carrying more smart bombs, moving them internally from the wings reduces drag and achieves a 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption.[84]

USAF scientists are working to arm the B with defensive laser weapons able to incinerate attacking air-to-air or surface-to-air missiles.[85]



The B shared many technological similarities with the preceding B Stratojet strategic bomber. The two aircraft used the same basic design, such as swept wings and podded jet engines,[86] and the cabin included the crew ejection systems.[87] On the BD, the pilots and electronic countermeasures (ECM) operator ejected upwards, while the lower deck crew ejected downwards; until the BG, the gunner had to jettison the tail gun to bail out.[88] The tail gunner in early model Bs was located in the traditional location in the tail of the plane, with both visual and radargun laying systems; in later models the gunner was moved to the front of the fuselage, with gun laying carried out by radar alone, much like the B Hustler's tail gun system.[89]

Structural fatigue was accelerated by at least a factor of eight in a low-altitude flight profile over that of high-altitude flying, requiring costly repairs to extend service life. In the early s, the three-phase High Stress program was launched to counter structural fatigue, enrolling aircraft at 2, flying hours.[90][91] Follow-up programs were conducted, such as a 2,hour service life extension to select airframes in –, and the extensive Pacer Plank reskinning, completed in [75][92] The wet wing introduced on G and H models was even more susceptible to fatigue, experiencing 60% more stress during a flight than the old wing. The wings were modified by under ECP .[93] This was followed by a fuselage skin and longeron replacement (ECP ) in , and the B Stability Augmentation and Flight Control program (ECP ) in [93] Fuel leaks due to deteriorating Marman clamps continued to plague all variants of the B To this end, the aircraft were subjected to Blue Band (), Hard Shell (), and finally QuickClip () programs. The latter fitted safety straps that prevented catastrophic loss of fuel in case of clamp failure.[94] The B's service ceiling is officially listed as 50,&#;feet, but operational experience shows this is difficult to reach when fully laden with bombs. According to one source: "The optimal altitude for a combat mission was around 43,&#;feet, because to exceed that height would rapidly degrade the plane's range."[95]

Black-and-white photo of a B inflight with its vertical stabilizer sheared off.
BH (AF Ser. No. ), configured at the time as a testbedto investigate structural failures, still flying after its vertical stabilizersheared off in severe turbulence on 10 January The aircraft landed safely.[96]

In September , the B became one of the first US military aircraft to fly using alternative fuel. It took off from Edwards Air Force Base with a 50/50 blend of Fischer–Tropsch process (FT) synthetic fuel and conventional JP-8 jet fuel, which burned in two of the eight engines.[97] On 15 December , a B took off from Edwards with the synthetic fuel powering all eight engines, the first time a USAF aircraft was entirely powered by the blend. The seven-hour flight was considered a success.[97] This program is part of the Department of DefenseAssured Fuel Initiative, which aimed to reduce crude oil usage and obtain half of its aviation fuel from alternative sources by [97] On 8 August , Air Force SecretaryMichael Wynne certified the BH as fully approved to use the FT blend.[98]

Flight controls[edit]

Because of the B's mission parameters, only modest maneuvers would be required with no need for spin recovery.[99] The aircraft has a relatively small, narrow chordrudder, giving it limited yaw control authority. Originally an all-moving vertical stabilizer was to be used, but was abandoned because of doubts about hydraulic actuator reliability.[99] Because the aircraft has eight engines, asymmetrical thrust due to the loss of an engine in flight would be minimal and correctable with the narrow rudder. To assist with crosswind takeoffs and landings the main landing gear can be pivoted 20 degrees to either side from neutral.[] This yaw adjustable crosswind landing gear would be preset by the crew according to wind observations made on the ground.

The elevator is also very narrow in chord like the rudder, and the B suffers from limited elevator control authority. For long term pitch trim and airspeed changes the aircraft uses an all-moving tail with the elevator used for small adjustments within a stabilizer setting. The stabilizer is adjustable through 13 degrees of movement (nine up, four down) and is crucial to operations during takeoff and landing due to large pitch changes induced by flap application.[]

Bs prior to the G models had very small ailerons with a short span that was approximately equal to their chord. These "feeler ailerons" were used to provide feedback forces to the pilot's control yoke and to fine tune the roll axes during delicate maneuvers such as aerial refueling.[99] Due to twisting of the thin main wing, conventional outboard flap type ailerons would lose authority and therefore could not be used. In other words, aileron activation would cause the wing to twist, undermining roll control. Six spoilerons on each wing are responsible for the majority of roll control. The late BG models eliminated the ailerons altogether and added an extra spoileron to each wing.[99] Partly because of the lack of ailerons, the BG and H models were more susceptible to Dutch roll.[]


Lower deck of a B, with instruments and displays featuring dominantly on the aircraft's side wall. This station is manned by two crew members.
A view of the lower deck of the B, dubbed the battle station

Ongoing problems with avionics systems were addressed in the Jolly Well program, completed in , which improved components of the AN/ASQ bombing navigational computer and the terrain computer. The MADREC (Malfunction Detection and Recording) upgrade fitted to most aircraft by could detect failures in avionics and weapons computer systems, and was essential in monitoring the Hound Dog missiles. The electronic countermeasures capability of the B was expanded with Rivet Rambler () and Rivet Ace ().[]

To improve operations at low altitude, the AN/ASQ Electro-Optical Viewing System (EVS), which consisted of a low light level television (LLLTV) and a forward looking infrared (FLIR) system mounted in blisters under the noses of BGs and Hs between and [] The navigational capabilities of the B were later augmented with the addition of GPS in the s.[] The IBM AP, also used on the Rockwell B-1 Lancer bomber and the Space Shuttle, was the B's main computer.[]

In , the LITENING targeting pod was fitted, which increased the effectiveness of the aircraft in the attack of ground targets with a variety of standoff weapons, using laser guidance, a high-resolution forward-looking infrared sensor (FLIR), and a CCD camera used to obtain target imagery.[] LITENING pods have been fitted to a wide variety of other US aircraft, such as the McDonnell Douglas F/A Hornet, the General Dynamics F Fighting Falcon and the McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II.[]


The ability to carry up to 20 AGM SRAM nuclear missiles was added to G and H models, starting in [] To further improve its offensive ability, air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) were fitted.[] After testing of both the USAF-backed Boeing AGM and the Navy-backed General Dynamics AGM Tomahawk, the AGMB was selected for operation by the B (and ultimately by the B-1 Lancer).[] A total of BGs and Hs were modified to carry AGMs, carrying 12 missiles on underwing pylons, with 82 BHs further modified to carry another eight missiles on a rotary launcher fitted in the bomb-bay. To conform with SALT II Treaty requirements that cruise missile-capable aircraft be readily identifiable by reconnaissance satellites, the cruise missile armed BGs were modified with a distinctive wing rootfairing. As all BHs were assumed modified, no visual modification of these aircraft was required.[] In , the stealthy AGM ACM cruise missile entered service; although intended to replace the AGM, a high cost and the Cold War's end led to only being produced; unlike the AGM, no conventional, non-nuclear version was built.[] The B was to have been modified to utilize Northrop Grumman's AGM TSSAM weapon; however, the missile was canceled due to development costs.[]

Those BGs not converted as cruise missile carriers underwent a series of modifications to improve conventional bombing. They were fitted with a new Integrated Conventional Stores Management System (ICSMS) and new underwing pylons that could hold larger bombs or other stores than could the external pylons. Thirty BGs were further modified to carry up to 12 AGM Harpoonanti-ship missiles each, while 12 BGs were fitted to carry the AGM Have Nap stand-off air-to-ground missile.[] When the BG was retired in , an urgent scheme was launched to restore an interim Harpoon and Have Nap capability,[Note 3] the four aircraft being modified to carry Harpoon and four to carry Have Nap under the Rapid Eight program.[]

The Conventional Enhancement Modification (CEM) program gave the BH a more comprehensive conventional weapons capability, adding the modified underwing weapon pylons used by conventional-armed BGs, Harpoon and Have Nap, and the capability to carry new-generation weapons including the Joint Direct Attack Munition and Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser guided bombs, the AGM glide bomb and the AGM JASSM missile. The CEM program also introduced new radios, integrated Global Positioning System into the aircraft's navigation system and replaced the under-nose FLIR with a more modern unit. Forty-seven BHs were modified under the CEM program by , with 19 more by the end of [][]

By around , U.S. Strategic Command stopped assigning B61 and B83 nuclear gravity bombs to B, and later listed only the B-2 as tasked with delivering strategic nuclear bombs in budget requests. Nuclear gravity bombs were removed from the B's capabilities because it is no longer considered survivable enough to penetrate modern air defenses, instead relying on nuclear cruise missiles and focusing on expanding its conventional strike role.[] The "Safety Rules for U.S. Strategic Bomber Aircraft" manual subsequently confirmed the removal of B and B gravity bombs from the BH's approved weapons configuration.[]

Starting in , Boeing is to upgrade the internal rotary launchers to the MIL-STD interface to enable the internal carriage of smart bombs, which previously could be carried only on the wings.[]

While the B-1 Lancer technically has a larger theoretical maximum payload of 75,&#;lb compared to the B's 70,&#;lb, the aircraft are rarely able to carry their full loads, the most the B carrying being a full load of AGMBs totaling 62,&#;lb. The B-1 has the internal weapons bay space to carry more GBU JDAMs and JASSMs, but the B upgraded with the conventional rotary launcher can carry more of other JDAM variants.[]

AGMA Air-Launched Rapid Response (ARRW) hypersonic missile and the future Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) nuclear-armed air-launched cruise missile will join the B inventory in the future.[]


USAF BH Stratofortress engines

The eight engines of the B are paired in pods and suspended by four pylons beneath and forward of the wings' leading edge. The careful arrangement of the pylons also allowed them to work as wing fences and delay the onset of stall. The first two prototypes, XB and YB, were both powered by experimental Pratt & Whitney YJP-3 turbojet engines of 8,&#;lbf (&#;kN) of static thrust each.[]

The BA models were equipped with Pratt & Whitney JP-1W turbojets, providing a dry thrust of 10,&#;lbf (&#;kN) which could be increased for short periods to 11,&#;lbf (&#;kN) with water injection. The water was carried in a gallon tank in the rear fuselage.[]

BB, C, D and E models were equipped with Pratt & Whitney JPW, JPWA, or JPW series engines all rated at 10,&#;lbf (&#;kN). The BF and G models were powered by Pratt & Whitney JPWB turbojets, each rated at 13,&#;lbf (&#;kN) static thrust with water injection.[]

On 9 May , BH started being delivered to the USAF with cleaner burning and quieter Pratt & Whitney TFP-3turbofans with a maximum thrust of 17,&#;lbf (&#;kN).[]

Engine retrofit[edit]

In a study for the USAF in the mids, Boeing investigated replacing the engines, changing to a new wing, and other improvements to upgrade BG/H aircraft as an alternative to the B-1A, then in development.[]

In , Rolls-Royce and Boeing jointly proposed fitting each Bs with four leased Rolls-Royce RB engines. This would have involved replacing the eight Pratt & Whitney TF33 engines (total thrust ,&#;lb) with four RB engines (total thrust ,&#;lb), which would increase range and reduce fuel consumption, at a cost of approximately US$&#;billion for the whole fleet. However, a USAF analysis in concluded that Boeing's estimated savings of US$&#;billion would not be realized and that re-engining would instead cost US$&#;billion more than keeping the existing engines, citing significant up-front procurement and re-tooling expenditure.[]

The USAF's rejection of re-engining was subsequently disputed in a Defense Science Board (DSB) report in The DSB urged the USAF to re-engine the aircraft without delay,[] saying doing so would not only create significant cost savings, but reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase aircraft range and endurance; these conclusions were in line with the conclusions of a separate Congress-funded study conducted in Criticizing the USAF cost analysis, the DSB found that among other things, the USAF failed to account for the cost of aerial refueling; the DSB estimated that refueling in the air cost $ per US gallon ($/l), whereas the USAF had failed to account for the cost of fuel delivery and so had only priced fuel at $ per US gallon ($/l).[]

On 23 April , the USAF released its request for proposals for commercial engines plus spares and support equipment, with the plan to award the contract in May [] This Commercial Engine Re-engining Program (CERP) saw General Electric propose its CF and Passport turbofans, Pratt & Whitney its PW, and Rolls Royce its F[] On 24 September , the USAF selected the Rolls-Royce F as the winner, and announced plans to purchase engines ( direct replacements and 42 spares), for $ billion.[]


Unit R&D cost M
Current M
Airframe M M M M M M M M
Engines M M M M M M M M
Electronics 50, 61, 71, 68, 54, 60, 66, 61,
Armament and
57, K K K K K K M
Current , M M M M M M M
Flyaway cost M M M M M M M M
Current M M M M M M M M
Maintenance cost
per flying hour
1, 1, 1,
Current 8, 9, 9, 11,
Note: The original costs were in approximate United States dollars.[] Figures in tables noted with current have been adjusted for inflation to the current calendar year.[30]

Operational history[edit]


Although the BA was the first production variant, these aircraft were used only in testing. The first operational version was the BB that had been developed in parallel with the prototypes since First flying in December , BB, AF Serial Number , entered operational service with 93rd Heavy Bombardment Wing (93rd BW) at Castle Air Force Base, California, on 29 June The wing became operational on 12 March The training for B crews consisted of five weeks of ground school and four weeks of flying, accumulating 35 to 50 hours in the air. The new BBs replaced operational Bs on a one-to-one basis.[]

Early operations were problematic;[] in addition to supply problems, there were also technical issues.[] Ramps and taxiways deteriorated under the aircraft's weight, the fuel system was prone to leaks and icing,[] and bombing and fire control computers were unreliable.[] The split level cockpit presented a temperature control problem&#;– the pilots' cockpit was heated by sunlight while the observer and the navigator on the bottom deck sat on the ice-cold floor. Thus, a comfortable temperature setting for the pilots caused the other crew members to freeze, while a comfortable temperature for the bottom crew caused the pilots to overheat.[] The J57 engines proved unreliable. Alternator failure caused the first fatal B crash in February ;[] as a result, the fleet was briefly grounded. In July, fuel and hydraulic issues grounded the Bs again. In response to maintenance issues, the USAF set up "Sky Speed" teams of 50 contractors at each B base to perform maintenance and routine checkups, taking an average of one week per aircraft.[]

Black-and-white photo of three Bs parked close together facing left, as personnel on the ground prepare them for departure
Three BBs of the 93rd Bomb Wing prepare to depart March AFBfor Castle AFB, California, after their record-setting round-the-world flight in

On 21 May , a BB () dropped a Mk nuclear bomb over the Bikini Atoll in a test code-named Cherokee. It was the first air-dropped thermonuclear weapon.[] This aircraft now is on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, NM. From 24 to 25 November , four BBs of the 93rd BW and four BCs of the 42nd BW flew nonstop around the perimeter of North America in Operation Quick Kick, which covered 15,&#;miles (13,&#;nmi, 25,&#;km) in 31 hours, 30 minutes. SAC noted the flight time could have been reduced by 5 to 6 hours had the four inflight refuelings been done by fast jet-powered tanker aircraft rather than propeller-driven Boeing KC Stratofreighters.[] In a demonstration of the B's global reach, from 16 to 18 January , three BBs made a non-stop flight around the world during Operation Power Flite, during which 24,&#;miles (21,&#;nmi, 39,&#;km) was covered in 45 hours 19 minutes (&#;mph or &#;km/h) with several in-flight refuelings by KCs.[][Note 4]

The B set many records over the next few years. On 26 September , a BD set a world speed record of &#;miles per hour (&#;kn, &#;km/h) over a 10,&#;kilometers (5,&#;nmi, 6,&#;mi) closed circuit without a payload. The same day, another BD established a world speed record of &#;miles per hour (&#;kn, &#;km/h) over a 5,&#;kilometer (2,&#;nmi, 3,&#;mi) closed circuit without a payload.[92] On 14 December , a BG set a world distance record by flying unrefueled for 10,&#;miles (8,&#;nmi, 16,&#;km); the flight lasted 19 hours 44 minutes (&#;mph or &#;km/h).[] From 10 to 11 January , a BH () set a world distance record by flying unrefueled, surpassing the prior B record set two years earlier, from Kadena Air Base, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, to Torrejón Air Base, Spain, which covered 12,&#;miles (10,&#;nmi, 20,&#;km).[64][] The flight passed over Seattle, Fort Worth and the Azores.

Cold War[edit]

Main article: Cold War

When the B entered into service, the Strategic Air Command (SAC) intended to use it to deter and counteract the vast and modernizing Soviet Union's military. As the Soviet Union increased its nuclear capabilities, destroying or "countering" the forces that would deliver nuclear strikes (bombers, missiles, etc.) became of great strategic importance.[] The Eisenhower administration endorsed this switch in focus; the President in expressing a preference for military targets over civilian ones, a principle reinforced in the Single Integrated Operation Plan (SIOP), a plan of action in the case of nuclear war breaking out.[]

Throughout the Cold War, Bs and other US strategic bombers performed airborne alert patrols under code names such as Head Start, Chrome Dome, Hard Head, Round Robin and Giant Lance. Bombers loitered at high altitude near the borders of the Soviet Union to provide rapid first strike or retaliation capability in case of nuclear war.[] These airborne patrols formed one component of the US's nuclear deterrent, which would act to prevent the breakout of a large-scale war between the US and the Soviet Union under the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction.[]

Due to the late s-era threat of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) that could threaten high-altitude aircraft,[][] seen in practice in the U-2 incident,[] the intended use of B was changed to serve as a low-level penetration bomber during a foreseen attack upon the Soviet Union, as terrain masking provided an effective method of avoiding radar and thus the threat of the SAMs.[] The aircraft was planned to fly towards the target at –&#;mph (–&#;km/h) and deliver their weapons from &#;ft (&#;m) or lower.[] Although never intended for the low level role, the B's flexibility allowed it to outlast several intended successors as the nature of aerial warfare changed. The B's large airframe enabled the addition of multiple design improvements, new equipment, and other adaptations over its service life.[]

In November , to improve the aircraft's combat capabilities in the changing strategic environment, SAC initiated the Big Four modification program (also known as Modification ) for all operational Bs except early B models.[90][] The program was completed by [] The four modifications were the ability to launch AGM Hound Dog standoff nuclear missiles and ADM Quail decoys, an advanced electronic countermeasures (ECM) suite, and upgrades to perform the all-weather, low-altitude (below &#;feet or &#;m) interdiction mission in the face of advancing Soviet missile-based air defenses.[]

In the s, there were concerns over the fleet's capable lifespan. Several projects beyond the B, the Convair B Hustler and North American XB Valkyrie, had either been aborted or proved disappointing in light of changing requirements, which left the older B as the main bomber as opposed to the planned successive aircraft models.[][] On 19 February , General Curtis E. LeMay testified to Congress that the lack of a follow-up bomber project to the B raised the danger that, "The B is going to fall apart on us before we can get a replacement for it."[] Other aircraft, such as the General Dynamics F Aardvark, later complemented the B in roles the aircraft was not as capable in, such as missions involving high-speed, low-level penetration dashes.[]

Vietnam War[edit]

See also: Vietnam War

Soviet specialists inspect the wreckage of the B Stratofortress shot down near Hanoi on 23 December

With the escalating situation in Southeast Asia, 28 BFs were fitted with external racks for 24 of the &#;lb (&#;kg) bombs under project South Bay in June ; an additional 46 aircraft received similar modifications under project Sun Bath.[73] In March , the United States commenced Operation Rolling Thunder. The first combat mission, Operation Arc Light, was flown by BFs on 18 June , when 30 bombers of the 9th and st Bombardment Squadrons struck a communist stronghold near the Bến Cát District in South Vietnam. The first wave of bombers arrived too early at a designated rendezvous point, and while maneuvering to maintain station, two Bs collided, which resulted in the loss of both bombers and eight crewmen. The remaining bombers, minus one more that turned back due to mechanical problems, continued towards the target.[] Twenty-seven Stratofortresses dropped on a one-by-two-mile ( by &#;km) target box from between 19, and 22, feet (5, and 6,&#;m); a little more than 50% of the bombs fell within the target zone.[] The force returned to Andersen AFB except for one bomber with electrical problems that recovered to Clark AFB, the mission having lasted 13 hours. Post-strike assessment by teams of South Vietnamese troops with American advisors found evidence that the Viet Cong had departed from the area before the raid, and it was suspected that infiltration of the south's forces may have tipped off the north because of the South Vietnamese Army troops involved in the post-strike inspection.[]

Against a blue sky with white clouds, a BF releases bombs over Vietnam.
BF dropping bombs on Vietnam

Beginning in late , a number of BDs underwent Big Belly modifications to increase bomb capacity for carpet bombings.[] While the external payload remained at 24 of &#;lb (&#;kg) or &#;lb (&#;kg) bombs, the internal capacity increased from 27 to 84 for &#;lb bombs, or from 27 to 42 for &#;lb bombs.[] The modification created enough capacity for a total of 60,&#;lb (27,&#;kg) using bombs. Thus modified, BDs could carry 22,&#;lb (9,&#;kg) more than BFs.[] Designed to replace BFs, modified BDs entered combat in April flying from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Each bombing mission lasted 10 to 12 hours and included an aerial refueling by KC Stratotankers.[51] In spring , Bs began flying from U Tapao Airfield in Thailand so that refueling was not required.[]

Bs were employed during the Battle of Ia Drang in November , notable as the aircraft's first use in a tactical support role.[]

The Bs were restricted to bombing suspected Communist bases in relatively uninhabited sections, because their potency approached that of a tactical nuclear weapon. A formation of six Bs, dropping their bombs from 30,&#;feet [9, m], could "take out"&#;almost everything within a "box" approximately five-eighths mile wide by two miles long [1 × &#;km]. Whenever Arc Light struck&#; in the vicinity of Saigon, the city woke from the tremor..

Neil Sheehan, war correspondent, writing before the mass attacks on heavily populated cities including North Vietnam's capital.[]

On 22 November , a BD () from U-Tapao was hit by a SAM while on a raid over Vinh. The crew was forced to abandon the damaged aircraft over Thailand. This was the first B destroyed by hostile fire.[]

The zenith of B attacks in Vietnam was Operation Linebacker II (sometimes referred to as the Christmas Bombing), conducted from 18 to 29 December , which consisted of waves of Bs (mostly D models, but some Gs without jamming equipment and with a smaller bomb load). Over 12 days, Bs flew sorties[] and dropped 15,&#;tons of bombs on Hanoi, Haiphong, and other targets.[][] Originally 42 Bs were committed to the war; however, numbers were frequently twice this figure.[] During Operation Linebacker II, fifteen Bs were shot down, five were heavily damaged (one crashed in Laos), and five suffered medium damage. A total of 25 crewmen were killed in these losses.[] North Vietnam claimed 34 Bs were shot down.[]

During the war 31 Bs were lost, including 10 shot down over North Vietnam.[] Of the losses, 17 were shot down in combat operations, one was a write-off because of combat damage, 11 crashed by accidents, 1 decommissioned because of combat damage, and 1 burned at the airport. However, some of the "crashed in flight accidents" were due to missiles or anti-aircraft guns. When landing at an airfield in Thailand one B was heavily damaged by SAM, rolled off the runway and was then blown up by mines installed around the airfield to protect against guerrillas; only one crewman survived. Subsequently, this B was counted as a "crashed in flight accident".[citation needed]

Air-to-air combat[edit]

Tail armament of a BG at Hill Aerospace Museum; this is a post-Vietnam model with the tail-gunner in the forward crew compartment, while earlier models used the traditional tail gunner's position.

During the Vietnam War, BD tail gunners were credited with shooting down two MiG "Fishbeds". On 18 December tail gunner Staff Sergeant Samuel O. Turner's B had just completed a bomb run for Operation Linebacker II and was turning away, when a Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF) MiG approached.[] The MiG and the B locked onto each other. When the fighter drew within range, Turner fired his quad (four guns on one mounting) ( mm) caliber machine guns.[] The MiG exploded aft of the bomber,[] as confirmed by Master Sergeant Louis E. Le Blanc, the tail gunner in a nearby Stratofortress. Turner received a Silver Star for his actions.[] His B, tail number , is preserved on display with air-to-air kill markings at Fairchild AFB in Spokane, Washington.[]

On 24 December , during the same bombing campaign, the B Diamond Lil was headed to bomb the Thái Nguyênrailroad yards when tail gunner Airman First Class Albert E. Moore spotted a fast-approaching MiG[] Moore opened fire with his quad ( mm) caliber guns at 4,&#;yd (3,&#;m), and kept shooting until the fighter disappeared from his scope. Technical Sergeant Clarence W. Chute, a tail gunner aboard another Stratofortress, watched the MiG catch fire and fall away;[] this was not confirmed by the VPAF.[]Diamond Lil is preserved on display at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado.[] Moore was the last bomber gunner believed to have shot down an enemy aircraft with machine guns in aerial combat.[]

The two B tail gunner kills were not confirmed by VPAF, and they admitted to the loss of only three MiGs, all by F-4s.[] Vietnamese sources have attributed a third air-to-air victory to a B, a MiG shot down on 16 April [] These victories make the B the largest aircraft credited with air-to-air kills.[Note 5] The last Arc Light mission without fighter escort took place on 15 August , as U.S. military action in Southeast Asia was wound down.[]

Post-Vietnam War service[edit]

BBs reached the end of their structural service life by the mids and all were retired by June , followed by the last of the BCs on 29 September ; except for NASA's BB "" which was eventually retired in at Edwards AFB, California.[] Another of the remaining B Models, "" is on display at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver, Colorado.[]

A few time-expired E models were retired in and , but the bulk (82) were retired between May and March Most F models were also retired between and , but 23 survived as trainers until late The fleet of D models served much longer; 80 D models were extensively overhauled under the Pacer Plank program during the mids.[] Skinning on the lower wing and fuselage was replaced, and various structural components were renewed. The fleet of D models stayed largely intact until late , when 37 not already upgraded Ds were retired.[] The remainder were retired between and []

The remaining G and H models were used for nuclear standby ("alert") duty as part of the United States' nuclear triad, the combination of nuclear-armed land-based missiles, submarine-based missiles and manned bombers. The B-1, intended to supplant the B, replaced only the older models and the supersonic FB[] In , Bs ceased continuous hour SAC alert duty.[]

After Vietnam the experience of operations in a hostile air defense environment was taken into account. Due to this Bs were modernized with new weapons, equipment and both offensive and defensive avionics. This and the use of low-level tactics marked a major shift in the B's utility. The upgrades were:

  • Supersonic short-range nuclear missiles: G and H models were modified to carry up to 20 SRAM missiles replacing existing gravity bombs. Eight SRAMs were carried internally on a special rotary launcher and 12 SRAMs were mounted on two wing pylons. With SRAM, the Bs could strike heavily defended targets without entering the terminal defenses.
  • New countermeasures: Phase VI ECM modification was the sixth major ECM program for the B It improved the aircraft's self-protection capability in the dense Soviet air defense environment. The new equipment expanded signal coverage, improved threat warning, provided new countermeasures techniques and increased the quantity of expendables. The power requirements of Phase VI ECM also consumed most of the excess electrical capacity on the BG.
  • BG and Hs were also modified with electro-optical viewing system (EVS) that made low-level operations and terrain avoidance much easier and safer. EVS system contained a low light level television (LLTV) camera and a forward looking infrared (FLIR) camera to display information needed for penetration at lower altitude.
  • Subsonic-cruise unarmed decoy: SCUD resembled the B on radar. As an active decoy, it carried ECM and other devices, and it had a range of several hundred miles. Although SCUD was never deployed operationally, the concept was developed, becoming known as the air launched cruise missile (ALCM-A).

These modifications increased weight by nearly 24,&#;lb (10,&#;kg), and decreased operational range by 8–11%. This was considered acceptable for the increase in capabilities.[][verification needed]

After the fall of the Soviet Union, all BGs remaining in service were destroyed in accordance with the terms of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). The Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMRC) cut the Bs into pieces. Completion of the destruction task was verified by Russia via satellite and first-person inspection at the AMARC facility.[]

Gulf War and later[edit]

See also: Gulf War

B strikes were an important part of Operation Desert Storm. Starting on 16 January , a flight of BGs flew from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, refueled in the air en route, struck targets in Iraq, and returned home&#;– a journey of 35 hours and 14, miles (23,&#;km) round trip. It set a record for longest-distance combat mission, breaking the record previously held by an RAF Vulcan bomber in ; however, this was achieved using forward refueling.[][] Those seven Bs flew the first combat sorties of Operation Desert Storm, firing 35 AGMC CALCM standoff missiles and successfully destroying 85–95 percent of their targets.[] BGs operating from the King Abdullah Air Base at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom, Morón Air Base, Spain, and the island of Diego Garcia in the British Indian Ocean Territory flew bombing missions over Iraq, initially at low altitude. After the first three nights, the Bs moved to high-altitude missions instead, which reduced their effectiveness and psychological impact compared to the low altitude role initially played.[]

The conventional strikes were carried out by three bombers, which dropped up to of the pound M bomb over an area of by 1&#;mi ( by &#;km). The bombings demoralized the defending Iraqi troops, many of whom surrendered in the wake of the strikes.[] In , the science and technology magazine Popular Mechanics described the B's role in the conflict: "The Buff's value was made clear during the Gulf War and Desert Fox. The B turned out the lights in Baghdad."[] During Operation Desert Storm, Bs flew about 1, sorties, and delivered 40% of the weapons dropped by coalition forces.[]

During the conflict, several claims of Iraqi air-to-air successes were made, including an Iraqi pilot, Khudai Hijab, who allegedly fired a Vympel RR missile from his MiG and damaged a BG on the opening night of the Gulf War.[] However, the USAF disputes this claim, stating the bomber was actually hit by friendly fire, an AGM High-speed, Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) that homed on the fire-control radar of the B's tail gun; the jet was subsequently renamed In HARM's Way.[] Shortly following this incident, General George Lee Butler announced that the gunner position on B crews would be eliminated, and the gun turrets permanently deactivated, commencing on 1 October []

Since the mids, the BH has been the only variant remaining in military service;[Note 6] it is currently stationed at:

From 2 to 3 September , two BHs conducted a mission as part of Operation Desert Strike. The Bs struck Baghdad power stations and communications facilities with 13 AGMC conventional air-launched cruise missiles (CALCM) during a hour, 16,mile round trip mission from Andersen AFB, Guam&#;– the longest distance ever flown for a combat mission.[]

On 24 March , when Operation Allied Force began, B bombers bombarded Serb targets throughout the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including during the Battle of Kosare.[]

The B contributed to Operation Enduring Freedom in (Afghanistan/Southwest Asia), providing the ability to loiter high above the battlefield and provide Close Air Support (CAS) through the use of precision guided munitions, a mission which previously would have been restricted to fighter and ground attack aircraft.[] In late , ten Bs dropped a third of the bomb tonnage in Afghanistan.[] Bs also played a role in Operation Iraqi Freedom, which commenced on 20 March (Iraq/Southwest Asia). On the night of 21 March , BHs launched at least AGMC CALCMs at targets within Iraq.[]

B and maritime operations[edit]

The B can be highly effective for ocean surveillance, and can assist the Navy in anti-ship and mine-laying operations. For example, a pair of Bs, in two hours, can monitor , square miles (, square kilometers) of ocean surface. During the Baltops exercise Bs conducted mine-laying missions off the coasts of Sweden, simulating a counter-amphibious invasion mission in the Baltic.[][]

In the s, the US Navy worried that combined attack from Soviet bombers, submarines and warships could overwhelm its defenses and sink its aircraft carriers. After the Falklands War, US planners feared the damage that could be created by mile-range missiles carried by Backfire bombers and mile-range missiles carried by Soviet surface ships. New US Navy's maritime strategy in early s called for aggressive use of carriers and surface action groups against the Soviet navy. To help protect the carrier battle groups, some BG were modified to fire Harpoon anti-ship missiles. These bombers were based at Guam and Maine from the later s in order to support both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. In case of war Bs would coordinate with tanker support and surveillance by AWACS and Navy planes. BGs could strike Soviet navy targets on the flanks of the US carrier battle groups, leaving them free to concentrate on offensive strikes against Soviet surface combatants. Mines laid down by Bs could establish mine fields in significant enemy choke points (mainly Kurile islands and GIUK). These minefields would force the Soviet fleet to disperse, making individual ships more vulnerable to Harpoon attacks.[][]

From the s BHs were modified to use Harpoons in addition to a wide range of cruise missiles, laser- and satellite-guided bombs and unguided munitions. B bomber crews honed sea-skimming flight profiles that would allow them to penetrate stiff enemy defenses and attack Soviet ships.[][][]

Recent expansion and modernization of China's navy has caused the USAF to re-implement strategies for finding and attacking ships. Recently,[when?] the B fleet has been certified to use Quickstrike family of naval mines using JDAM-ER guided wing kits. This weapon will give the ability to lay down minefields over wide areas, in a single pass, with extreme accuracy, and all while standing-off at over 40 miles away. Besides this, with a view to enhance B maritime patrol and strike performance, an AN/ASQ Dragon's Eye underwing pod, has also been certified for use by BH bombers. Dragon's Eye contains an advanced electronically-scanned array radar that will allow Bs to quickly scan vast Pacific Ocean areas, so finding and sinking enemy ships will be easier for them. This radar will complement the Litening infrared targeting pod already used by Bs for inspecting ships.[][]

Recent service[edit]

B taking off from Tinker AFB

In August , a BH ferrying AGM ACM cruise missiles from Minot Air Force Base to Barksdale Air Force Base for dismantling was mistakenly loaded with six missiles with their nuclear warheads. The weapons did not leave USAF custody and were secured at Barksdale.[][]

Four of 18 BHs from Barksdale AFB were retired and were in the "boneyard" of th AMARG at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base as of 8 September []

As of January&#;[update], 78 of the original B aircraft were in operation with the USAF.[]

In February , hull Ghost Rider became the first stored B52 to fly out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base after six years in storage.[]

Bs are periodically refurbished at USAF maintenance depots such as Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.[] Even while the USAF works on the new Long Range Strike Bomber, it intends to keep the BH in service until , which is 90 years after the B first entered service, an unprecedented length of service for any aircraft, civilian or military.[][][][][Note 7]

B at the Australian airshow,

The USAF continues to rely on the B because it remains an effective and economical heavy bomber in the absence of sophisticated air defenses, particularly in the type of missions that have been conducted since the end of the Cold War against nations with limited defensive capabilities. The B has also continued in service because there has been no reliable replacement.[] The B has the capacity to "loiter" for extended periods, and can deliver precision standoff and direct fire munitions from a distance, in addition to direct bombing. It has been a valuable asset in supporting ground operations during conflicts such as Operation Iraqi Freedom.[] The B had the highest mission capable rate of the three types of heavy bombers operated by the USAF in the – period. The B-1 averaged a % ready rate, the B-2 Spirit achieved %, while the B averaged %.[] The B's $72, cost per hour of flight is more than the B-1B's $63, cost per hour, but less than the B-2's $, per hour.[]

The Long Range Strike Bomber program is intended to yield a stealthy successor for the B and B-1 that would begin service in the s; it is intended to produce 80 to aircraft. Two competitors, Northrop Grumman and a joint team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, submitted proposals in ;[] Northrop Grumman was awarded a contract in October []

On 12 November , the B began freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea in response to Chinese man-made islands in the region. Chinese forces, claiming jurisdiction within a mile exclusion zone of the islands, ordered the bombers to leave the area, but they refused, not recognizing jurisdiction.[] On 10 January , a B overflew parts of South Korea escorted by South Korean FKs and U.S. Fs in response to the supposed test of a hydrogen bomb by North Korea.[]

On 9 April , an undisclosed number of Bs arrived at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, part of the Military intervention against ISIL. The Bs took over heavy bombing after B-1 Lancers that had been conducting airstrikes rotated out of the region in January [] In April , Bs arrived in Afghanistan to take part in the war in Afghanistan and began operations in July, proving its flexibility and precision carrying out close-air support missions.[]

According to a statement by the U.S. military, an undisclosed number of Bs participated in the U.S. strikes on pro-government forces in eastern Syria on 7 February []


VariantProducedEntered Service
(1 redesignated YB)
YB1 modified XBprototype
(1 redesignated NBA)
test units
NBA1 modified BA
BB5029 June
RBB27 Modified BBs
NBB1 Modified BB
BG13 February
BH9 May
Grand total production

The B went through several design changes and variants over its 10 years of production.[]

Two prototype aircraft with limited operational equipment, used for aerodynamic and handling tests
One XB modified with some operational equipment and re-designated
Only three of the first production version, the BA, were built, all loaned to Boeing for flight testing.[51] The first production BA differed from prototypes in having a redesigned forward fuselage. The bubble canopy and tandem seating was replaced by a side-by-side arrangement and a 21&#;in (53&#;cm) nose extension accommodated more avionics and a new sixth crew member.[Note 8] In the rear fuselage, a tail turret with four &#;inch (&#;mm) machine guns with a fire-control system, and a water injection system to augment engine power with a &#;US&#;gallon (1,&#;L) water tank were added. The aircraft also carried a 1,&#;US&#;gallon (3,&#;L) external fuel tank under each wing. The tanks damped wing flutter and also kept wingtips close to the ground for ease of maintenance.[]
The last BA (serial ) was modified and redesignated NBA in to carry the North American X A pylon was fitted under the right wing between the fuselage and the inboard engines with a 6&#;feet x 8&#;feet (&#;m x &#;m) section removed from the right wing flap to fit the X tail. Liquid oxygen and hydrogen peroxide tanks were installed in the bomb bays to fuel the X before launch. Its first flight with the X was on 19 March , with the first launch on 8 June The NBA, named "The High and Mighty One" carried the X on 93 of the program's flights.[]

The BB was the first version to enter service with the USAF on 29 June with the 93rd Bombardment Wing at Castle AFB, California.[] This version included minor changes to engines and avionics, enabling an extra 12, pounds of thrust using water injection.[] Temporary grounding of the aircraft after a crash in February and again the following July caused training delays, and at mid-year there were still no combat-ready B crews.[]

Of the 50 BBs built, 27 were capable of carrying a reconnaissance pod as RBBs (the crew was increased to eight in these aircraft).[51] The &#;pound (&#;kg) pod contained radio receivers, a combination of K, K, and T cameras, and two operators on downward-firing ejection seats. The pod required only four hours to install.[]
Seven BBs were brought to BC standard under Project Sunflower.[]
The NBB was BB number converted to an X launch platform. It subsequently flew as "Balls 8" in support of NASA research until 17 December , making it the oldest flying BB. It was replaced by a modified BH.[]
The BC's fuel capacity (and range) was increased to 41,&#;US&#;gallons by adding larger &#;US&#;gallon underwing fuel tanks. The gross weight was increased by 30,&#;pounds (13,&#;kg) to ,&#;pounds. A new fire control system, the MD-9, was introduced on this model.[] The belly of the aircraft was painted with anti-flash white paint, which was intended to reflect the thermal radiation of a nuclear detonation.[]
The RBC was the designation initially given to BCs fitted for reconnaissance duties in a similar manner to RBBs. As all 35 BCs could be fitted with the reconnaissance pod, the RBC designation was little used and was quickly abandoned.[]
BD dropping lb bombs
The BD was a dedicated long-range bomber without a reconnaissance option. The Big Belly modifications allowed the BD to carry heavy loads of conventional bombs for carpet bombing over Vietnam,[] while the Rivet Rambler modification added the Phase V ECM systems, which was better than the systems used on most later Bs. Because of these upgrades and its long range capabilities, the D model was used more extensively in Vietnam than any other model.[] Aircraft assigned to Vietnam were painted in a camouflage color scheme with black bellies to defeat searchlights.[71]
The BE received an updated avionics and bombing navigational system, which was eventually debugged and included on following models.[]
One -E aircraft (AF Serial No. ) was modified as a testbed for various B systems. Redesignated NBE, the aircraft was fitted with canards and a Load Alleviation and Mode Stabilization system which reduced airframe fatigue from wind gusts during low level flight. In one test, the aircraft flew 10&#;knots (&#;mph, &#;km/h) faster than the never exceed speed without damage because the canards eliminated 30% of vertical and 50% of horizontal vibrations caused by wind gusts.[][][]
One aircraft leased by General Electric to test TF39 and CF6 engines.[citation needed]
This aircraft was given JPW engines with a larger capacity water injection system to provide greater thrust than previous models.[] This model had problems with fuel leaks which were eventually solved by several service modifications: Blue Band, Hard Shell, and QuickClip.[94]
The BG was proposed to extend the B's service life during delays in the B Hustler program. At first, a radical redesign was envisioned with a completely new wing and Pratt & Whitney J75 engines. This was rejected to avoid slowdowns in production, although a large number of changes were implemented.[] The most significant of these was a new "wet" wing with integral fuel tanks, increasing gross aircraft weight by 38,&#;pounds (17,&#;kg). In addition, a pair of &#;US&#;gallon (2,&#;L) external fuel tanks were fitted under the wings on wet hardpoints.[] The traditional ailerons were also eliminated, and the spoilers now provided all roll control (roll control had always been primarily with spoilers due to the danger of wing twist under aileron deflection, but older models had small "feeler" ailerons fitted to provide feedback to the controls). The tail fin was shortened by 8&#;feet (&#;m), water injection system capacity was increased to 1,&#;US&#;gallons (4,&#;L), and the nose radome was enlarged.[] The tail gunner was relocated to the forward fuselage, aiming via a radar scope, and was now provided with an ejection seat.[] Dubbed the "Battle Station" concept, the offensive crew (pilot and copilot on the upper deck and the two bombing navigation system operators on the lower deck) faced forward, while the defensive crew (tail gunner and ECM operator) on the upper deck faced aft.[] The BG entered service on 13 February (a day earlier, the last B was retired, making SAC an all-jet bomber force). BGs were produced, making this the most produced B variant. Most BGs were destroyed in compliance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty; the last BG, number , was dismantled under New START treaty requirements in December [] A few examples remain on display for museums.[]
The BH had the same crew and structural changes as the BG. The most significant upgrade was the switch to TFP-3turbofan engines which, despite the initial reliability problems (corrected by under the Hot Fan program), offered considerably better performance and fuel economy than the J57 turbojets.[][] The ECM and avionics were updated, a new fire control system was fitted, and the rear defensive armament was changed from machine guns to a 20&#;mm M61 Vulcan cannon (later removed in –94).[] The final 18 aircraft were manufactured with provision for the ADR-8 countermeasures rocket, which was later retrofitted to the remainder of the BG and BH fleet.[] A provision was made for four GAM Skyboltballistic missiles. The aircraft's first flight occurred on 10 July , and it entered service on 9 May This is the only variant still in use.[3] A total of BHs were built. The last production aircraft, BH AF Serial No. , left the factory on 26 October []
Allocated to the reconnaissance variant of the BB but not used. The aircraft were designated RBB instead.[]


Main article: List of B Units of the United States Air Force

United States
  • United States Air Force 76 aircraft in service as of February []
  • NASA
    • Dryden Flight Research Center
      • 1 modified ex-USAF NBB () "Mothership" Launch Aircraft operated from to It was then put on display at the North entrance to Edwards AFB.[]
      • 1 modified ex-USAF BH () Heavy Lift Launch Aircraft operated from to On 9 May , that aircraft was flown for the last time to Sheppard AFB, Texas, where it became a GBH maintenance trainer, never to fly again.[]

Notable accidents[edit]

See also: Category:Accidents and incidents involving the Boeing B Stratofortress

A big metallic cylinder standing upright in a field next to a tree.
One of the two MK 39nuclear bombs involved in the Goldsboro crashafter soft landing with parachute deployed. The weapon was recovered intact after three of the four stages of the arming sequence were completed.
  • On 10 January , a BB returning to Loring Air Force Base from a routine instrument training mission broke apart in midair and crashed near Morrell, New Brunswick, killing eight of the nine crew on board. Co-pilot Captain Joseph L. Church parachuted to safety. The crash was believed to have been caused by overstressing the wings and/or airframe during an exercise designed to test the pilot's reflexes. This was the fourth crash involving a B in 11 months.[]
  • On 11 February , a BD crashed in South Dakota because of ice blocking the fuel system, leading to an uncommanded reduction in power to all eight engines. Three crew members were killed.[]
  • On 8 September , two BDs collided in midair near Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington; all 13 crew members on the 2 aircraft were killed.[]
  • On 15 October , a BF from the d Bomb Squadron at Columbus AFB, Mississippi, carrying two nuclear weapons collided in midair with a KC tanker near Hardinsburg, Kentucky; four of the eight crew members on the bomber and all four crew on the tanker were killed. One of the nuclear bombs was damaged by fire, but both weapons were recovered.[]
  • On 24 January , a BG broke up in midair and crashed after suffering a severe fuel loss, near Goldsboro, North Carolina, dropping two nuclear bombs in the process without detonation.[] Three of the eight crew members were killed.
  • On 14 March , a BF from Mather AFB, California[][verification needed] carrying two nuclear weapons experienced an uncontrolled decompression, necessitating a descent to 10,&#;feet to lower the cabin altitude. Due to increased fuel consumption at the lower altitude and unable to rendezvous with a tanker in time, the aircraft ran out of fuel. The crew ejected safely, while the unmanned bomber crashed 15 miles (24&#;km) west of Yuba City, California.[]
  • On 24 January , a BC on a training mission out of Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts, lost its vertical stabilizer due to buffeting during low-level flight, and crashed on the west side of Elephant Mountain near Greenville, Maine. Of the nine crewmen aboard, two survived the crash.[][]
  • On 13 January , the vertical stabilizer broke off a BD in winter storm turbulence; it crashed on Savage Mountain in western Maryland. The two nuclear bombs being ferried were found "relatively intact"; three of the crew of five died.[]
  • On 18 June , two BFs collided mid-air during a refueling maneuver at 33, feet (10,&#;m) above the South China Sea. The head-on collision took place just northwest of the Luzon Peninsula, Philippines, in the night sky above Super Typhoon Dinah, a category 5 storm with maximum winds of &#;mph (&#;km/h) and waves reported as high as 70 feet (21&#;m). Eight of twelve total crew members in two planes were killed. The rescue of four crew members who had managed to eject only to parachute into one of the largest typhoons of the 20th century remains one of the most remarkable survival stories in the history of aviation. The crash was also notable, because it was the first combat mission ever for the B The two jets were part of a plane squadron on an inaugural Arc Light mission from Andersen AFB, Guam, to a military target about 25 miles (40&#;km) northwest of Saigon, South Vietnam.[][]
  • On 17 January , a fatal collision occurred between a BG and a KC Stratotanker over Palomares, Spain, killing all four on the tanker and three of the seven on the BG. The two unexploded B FI megaton-range nuclear bombs on the B were eventually recovered; the conventional explosives of two more bombs detonated on impact, with serious dispersion of both plutonium and uranium, but without triggering a nuclear explosion. After the crash, 1, metric tons (3,,&#;lb) of contaminated soil was sent to the United States.[] In , an agreement was made between the U.S. and Spain to investigate and clean the pollution still remaining as a result of the accident.[]
  • On 21 January , a BG, with four nuclear bombs aboard as part of Operation Chrome Dome, crashed on the ice of the North Star Bay while attempting an emergency landing at Thule Air Base, Greenland.[] The resulting fire caused extensive radioactive contamination, the cleanup (Project Crested Ice) lasting until September of that year.[] Following closely on the Palomares incident, the cleanup costs and political consequences proved too high to risk again, so SAC ended the airborne alert program the following day.[][]
  • On 7 January , BC of SAC crashed into northern Lake Michigan at the mouth of Little Traverse Bay near Charlevoix, Michigan, while on a low-level training flight. All nine crew members were lost.[]
  • On 31 March , a th Bombardment Wing BD, AF Serial Number , sustained multiple engine failures and an engine pod fire shortly after takeoff from McCoy AFB on a routine training mission. The aircraft was not carrying any weapons. The aircraft immediately attempted to return to the base, but crashed 3, feet (&#;m) short of Runway 18R in a civilian residential area immediately north of the airfield, destroying or damaging eight homes. The crew of 7 airmen and a year-old boy on the ground were killed.[][]
  • On 19 October , BD crashed on takeoff at March AFB, Riverside, California, due to loss of power on engines 1 and 2, and loss of water augmentation on the left wing. Eight of the nine crew were killed.[citation needed]
  • On 24 June , BH Czar 52, 61– crashed at Fairchild AFB, Washington, during practice for an airshow. All four crew members died in the accident.[]
  • On 21 July , a BH, Raidr 21, 60–, deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam crashed approximately 25 miles (40&#;km) off the coast of Guam. All six crew members were killed (five standard crew members and a flight surgeon).[]

Aircraft on display[edit]

See also: List of displayed Boeing B Stratofortress

Specifications (BH)[edit]

Boeing BH Stratofortress 3-view drawing
BH profile, circa
Boeing BH static display with weapons, Barksdale AFB A second BH can be seen in flight in the background

Data from Knaack,[] USAF fact sheet,[] Quest for Performance[]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 5 (pilot, copilot, weapon systems officer, navigator, electronic warfare officer)
  • Length: &#;ft 4&#;in (&#;m)
  • Wingspan: &#;ft 0&#;in (&#;m)
  • Height: 40&#;ft 8&#;in (&#;m)
  • Wing area: 4,&#;sq&#;ft (&#;m2)
  • Airfoil:NACA 63A mod root, NACA 65A tip
  • Empty weight: ,&#;lb (83,&#;kg)
  • Gross weight: ,&#;lb (,&#;kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: ,&#;lb (,&#;kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 47,&#;U.S.&#;gal (39,&#;imp&#;gal; ,&#;L)
  • Zero-lift drag coefficient: (estimated)
  • Drag area: &#;sq&#;ft (&#;m2)
  • Aspect ratio:
  • Powerplant: 8 × Pratt & Whitney TFP-3/ turbofans, 17,&#;lbf (76&#;kN) thrust each


  • Maximum speed: &#;mph (1,&#;km/h, &#;kn)
  • Cruise speed: &#;mph (&#;km/h, &#;kn)
  • Combat range: 8,&#;mi (14,&#;km, 7,&#;nmi)
  • Ferry range: 10,&#;mi (16,&#;km, 8,&#;nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 50,&#;ft (15,&#;m)
  • Rate of climb: 6,&#;ft/min (&#;m/s)
  • Wing loading: &#;lb/sq&#;ft (&#;kg/m2)
  • Thrust/weight:
  • Lift-to-drag ratio: (estimated)


  • Guns: 1× 20 mm ( in)M61 Vulcan cannon originally mounted in a remote controlled tail turret on the H-model, removed in from all operational aircraft.
  • Bombs: Approximately 70,&#;lb (31,&#;kg) mixed ordnance; bombs, mines, missiles, in various configurations.


Notable appearances in media[edit]

Main article: Aircraft in fiction §&#;B Stratofortress

A B carrying nuclear weapons was a key part of Stanley Kubrick's black comedy film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.[] A s hairstyle, the beehive, is also called a B for its resemblance to the aircraft's distinctive nose.[] The popular band the B's was subsequently named after this hairstyle.[][]

See also[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_B_Stratofortress

Photos b 52 cockpit

", she howled plaintively.Commendable!", said the mother and chose the tip from the girl's hole, without letting go of the compressed enema balloon. Then she with her middle and forefingers squeezed her daughter's anus.

Bomber Flight (2019) • Inside The B-52H Stratofortress

Yes, it looks like you really need to pump, said dad, and said that before the spanking he would give. Me an enema. I was a little taken aback because I was given an enema only in early childhood, and I no longer even remembered when. And then my father was suddenly going to give an enema to an adult guy: But my father, it seems, was not going to ask my.

Opinion, but immediately went to the bathroom, and soon returned from there with a large heating pad filled with water.

Similar news:

Are there young people among the party bullies, or is there only one old man. And what poses do they put you in. You share with me, maybe I will teach you something new. " One should have complained about Elsa to the regional State Security Committee, but Tanya felt sorry for the foolish. Hairdresser.

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