Three years ago we produced a news report on the American B-52, an unconventional bomber in many ways, and easily recognizable.
Developed by Boeing, the B-52 Stratofortress entered service in 1955, and dozens of them are still in service with the US Air Force.
What strikes you first, are its eight Pratt & Whitney turbojet engines, mounted in pairs under the imposing 35° swept wings, which themselves are mounted high on the fuselage, giving the plane a wingspan of 185 feet (56 metres). Small retractable stabilizing wheels are provided toward each wingtip. Another unusual feature is its double (8 wheels in total), fore and aft undercarriage arrangement.
Finally, there are its technical specifications. The B-52 is a strategic long-range bomber, having a combat range of more than 8,800 miles (14,000 km), with aerial refuelling, at a service ceiling of 50,000 feet (15,000 metres). Its bomb bay can accommodate more than 70,000 lbs (32,000 kg) of bombs, of all kinds, including nuclear weapons.
A symbol of American military power, the US bomber, to be retired in 2040, will be replaced by a next-generation strategic stealth bomber, now under development by Northrop Grumman.