Since it became operational in 1955, the B-52 has been the main long-range heavy bomber of the Strategic Air Command. It first flew on 15 April 1952. Nearly 750 B-52s were built when production ended in October 1963, 170 of which were D models. The Ds were modified to carry conventional bombs externally and later series had provisions for Hound Dog air-to-surface missiles and Quail decoy missiles.
The B-52 has set many records in its 50-plus years of service. On 18 January 1957, three B-52Bs completed the world’s first non-stop round-the-world flight by jet aircraft, lasting 45 hours and 19 minutes with only three aerial refuelings en route. It was also a B-52 that made the first airborne hydrogen bomb drop over Bikini Atoll on 21 May 1956. In June 1965, B-52s entered combat when they began flying missions with conventional bombs in support of operations in Southeast Asia (SEA). By August 1973, they had flown 126,615 combat sorties with 17 B-52s lost to enemy action.
B-52s were stationed at Robins AFB from 1961-1983 with the 19th Bomb Wing, currently the 19th Refueling Wing now flying KC-136R refueling tankers. The aircraft on display served in Southeast Asia in 1968 and again 1972-1973, flying numerous combat sorties with the 99th Bomb Wing from Andersen AB, Guam. Its last flight was 25 August 1983 when it was delivered to Robins AFB for display by the 7th Bomb Wing, Carswell AFB, Texas.
Span: 185 ft.
Length: 156 ft. 6 in.
Height: 48 ft. 4 in.
Weight: 450,000 lbs. max.
Armament: Four .50-cal. machine guns in the tail, plus bombs—nuclear or 43,000 lbs. of conventional
Engines: Eight Pratt & Whitney J57s of 12,100 lbs. thrust ea. with water-alcohol injection
Serial Number: 55–0085
Maximum speed: 638 mph.
Cruising speed: 526 mph.
Range: 8,338 miles unrefueled
Service ceiling: 49,400 ft.