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Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
Here is my interpretation of the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress It is built to minifig scale and has many operable features. In the images that follow, I’ve included most of the variants produced during the Cold War and beyond. As always, leave a comment if you wish. Check out my flickr page for larger pictures here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/118702264@N05/. The LDD model of the BUFF variants is available on my Etsy site: www.etsy.com/ca/shop/KurtsMOCs.
About this creation


The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber flown by the United States Air Force (USAF). Designed and built in the 1950s, the B-52 is still in service today albeit in modified form. The B-52 is expected to continue to serve the USAF into the 2050s.

The Stratofortress was designed to carry nuclear weapons for Cold War-era deterrence missions but also delivered conventional munitions in operations in Vietnam, the Gulf Wars, and Afghanistan. 744 Stratofortresses (742 production aircraft and 2 prototypes) were built and flew under the Strategic Air Command (SAC) beginning in 1955, the Air Combat Command (ACC) after 1992, and in 2010 with the newly created Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). As of 2015, 58 B-52Hs are in active service with 18 held in reserve. Production began in 1954 and ended in 1962 with eight models being produced.

The basic configuration of the B-52 is similar in concept to Boeing’s earlier B-47. The shoulder-mounted sweptback wing, wing-mounted engines, and bicycle landing gear are all reminiscent of the medium bomber despite being much larger and heavier. The largest jet aircraft built at the time, the B-52 was 152.7 feet (46.5 m) long with a wingspan of 185 feet (56.4 m) and 48.25 feet (14.7 m) to the top of the vertical fin. Additionally, each wing was fitted with four segments of Fowler-type flaps and the horizontal tail surfaces had a span of 52 feet (15.85 m). Empty, the B-52 weighed 155,200 pounds (70,398 kgs) and its maximum takeoff weight was 390,000 pounds (176,901 kgs). Fuel capacity was 27,417 gallons (103,785 litres).


The wing of the B-52 has a sweepback angle at the quarter chord of 35 degrees and a wing area of 4,000 square feet, nearly three times larger than that of the B-47. Eight Pratt & Whitney YJ57-P-3 turbojet engines, producing 8,700 pounds static thrust, were mounted in pairs on swept-forward pylons extending below the lower surface of the wing. The prototype bomber had a cruising speed of 520 mph (835 kph) and a maximum speed of 611 mph (983 kph) and its maximum unfueled range was 7,015 miles (11,290 km).

In this image, you can see the XB-52 prototype next to my B-47 Stratojet model. Apart from the size and number of engines, the family resemblance is striking!


The landing gear used double twin-wheeled units mounted side-by-side underneath the fuselage. To prevent the wingtips from dragging on the ground during takeoff and landing, two small outrigger wheels were mounted and could retract into the outer wing. The main landing retraction process was quite complicated and asymmetric with the port units folding forward and the starboard units folding aft. Any one of the four main units could be lowered independently. A unique feature of the landing gear was the ability of the main units to rotate up to 20 degrees left or right of the line of flight. This facilitated crosswind landings and takeoffs by permitting the aircraft to point directly into the wind while the wheels remain aligned with the runway.

The fuel tanks occupied the majority of the upper sections of the fuselage from just behind the cockpit to just aft of the rear main undercarriage. The weapons bay occupied almost the entire section of the lower fuselage between the forward and rear undercarriage members. The bomb bay was 28 feet (8.5 m) long and 6 feet (1.8 m) wide and enclosed by double-panel doors. While on the ground, the hinged upper panels could be swung back to provide additional clearance for loading and unloading of weapons.

The B-52 was intended to replace SAC’s ageing and slower Convair B-36 Peacemaker. Although Convair produced a swept-wing all-jet version of the Peacemaker known as the YB-60, SAC’s commander General Curtis LeMay envisioned the B-52 as the best solution for SAC’s strategic mission. In this image, the venerable B-36 sits next to the new Stratofortress, illustrating the rapid progress of aviation design in the post-War era.


Normal crew was five, with pilot and co-pilot seated in tandem under a bubble-type canopy in the forward nose. The navigator and radar operator sat side-by-side on the lower deck in the forward nose. The tail gunner sat in a separate cockpit in the extreme tail. In an emergency, the pilot and co-pilot ejected upward and the navigator and radar operator ejected downward. The tail gunner jettisoned the turret by firing four explosive bolts and then dived out after it.

The first Stratofortress prototype XB-52 (49-230) was rolled out on 29 November 1951. The prototype required extensive repairs after suffering a pneumatic system failure that damaged the wing during ground testing. Almost a year later, the XB-52 made its first flight on 2 October 1952 with test pilot Alvin M. “Tex” Johnston in command. In this image, Tex puts the XB-52 through its paces.


The YB-52 (49-231) rolled out of the assembly hanger on 15 March 1952. The Y prefix indicated service test, but the aircraft was essentially identical to the XB-52. The first flight of the YB-52 took place on 17 April 1952 with company test pilot Alvin M. “Tex” Johnston and Lt Col Guy Townsend of the USAF Air Research and Development Command on board. After a 2-hour flight beginning at Boeing’s Seattle factory, the aircraft landed at nearby Larson AFB reporting only a few minor problems.

After logging 783 flying hours, the YB-52 was donated to the USAF Museum at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio on 27 January 1958. However, both the XB-52 and YB-52 were scrapped in the mid-1960s as part of Lady Bird Johnson’s national beautification program, which sought to remove “eyesores” such as surplus military hardware from the landscape.


The B-52A variant was restricted to testing only but was considered as the first B-52 models produced. These aircraft differed from the XB-52 with a larger nose, side-by-side seating, and a longer forward compartment to house additional equipment. For defensive measures, a four-gun, .50-caliber tail turret was added along with electronic countermeasures equipment and a chaff-dispensing system.

The B-52A used the Pratt & Whitney J57-P-1 W engines that produced a dry thrust of 10,000 pounds. These were fitted for water injection from a 360-gallon tank located in a rear fuselage tank, raising the thrust to 11,000 pounds static thrust for short periods. The A-model was fitted for “flying boom” in-flight refuelling but also carried two 1,000-gallon auxiliary fuel tanks supplementing the normal 35,600-gallon fuel load.

13 B-52As were ordered but only three were built and none ever entered service with the USAF. The Seattle factory roll-out on 30 June 1952 was attended by Air Force Chief of Staff General Nathan F. Twining who called the B-52 “the long rifle of the air age.” The Air Force accepted the first B-52A (Serial No. 52-001) in June 1954 and returned it immediately to Boeing, along with the other two B-52As, for use in the test program. The other ten B-52As, ordered in early 1951, were completed as B-52Bs.

The last B-52A (Serial No. 52-003) was re-designated NB-52A in 1959 and modified to carry the rocket-powered North American X-15. A large 6x8 foot section was removed from the right wing flap to make room for the X-15’s wedge tail. A pylon to mate the X-15 to the NB-52A was installed between the aircraft’s inboard engines and the fuselage. Large liquid oxygen tanks were placed in the bomb bays for topping off the X-15’s liquid oxygen system prior to separation.


The B-52A was the first production model but these three were only used in testing. The first operational version was the B-52B that had been developed in parallel with the prototypes since 1951. The B-variant had an increased gross weight of 420,000 pounds, up 15,000 pounds over the A-variant, the MA-6A bombing navigation system, and more powerful engines. The J57-P-1W, -1WA or -1WB engines were similar to those used on the B-52A but efforts to increase water flow resulted in the J57-P-19W versions being installed in the final five aircraft delivered.

The early Stratofortresses were plagued with issues, such as fuel leaks, icing of the fuel system, imperfect water-injection pumps, faulty alternators and, above all, deficient bombing and fire-control systems. Also, the differences in cabin temperatures were problematic, as the observer and navigator were exposed to the bottom of the fuselage where the metal often reached 20 degrees below zero. Compared to the problems faced by Boeing’s older B-47 aircraft, these were not severe enough to postpone deliveries.

The first flying B-52B, AF Serial Number 52-8711, entered operational service with the 93rd Heavy Bombardment Wing (93rd BW) at Castle Air Force Base, California on 29 June 1955. These new B-52Bs replaced operational B-36s on a one-to-one basis. Most B-52Bs were assigned to the 93rd and the wing was fully operational on 26 June 1957.

The Air Force took delivery of the last B-52B in August 1956, accepting 50 overall, 27 of which qualified as RB-52Bs. Seven B-52Bs were brought to B-52C standard under Project Sunflower. In March 1965, SAC began retiring B-52Bs that had reached the end of their structural service life. Some aircraft were sent to the Air Training Command for ground crew training while the remainder of SAC’s two B-52B squadrons went sent to storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.

In this image, a B-52B from the 93rd Heavy Bombardment Wing performs a “wet” takeoff. The addition of water injection into the engines to increase thrust produced the Stratofortress’ characteristic trail of black smoke. Adding water increases the mass being accelerated out of the engine and therefore increasing thrust, but it also means quenching the flame in the combustion chamber somewhat, leading to unburned fuel exiting the exhaust and creating this distinguishing take-off feature.


The 27 B-52Bs slotted for reconnaissance duty were capable of carrying a reconnaissance pod and designated the RB-52B. The reconnaissance model featured multi-purpose pods carried in the aircraft’s bomb bay. The 300-pound pod was pressurized and equipped with downward-firing ejection seats for the two-man crew. The pod’s installation was so simple that the B-52 could be configured in only four hours.

For search operations, the pod contained one AN/APR-14 radar receiver at the low frequency reconnaissance station and two AN/APR-9 radar receivers at the high frequency station. Each station had two AN/APA-11A pulse analyzers with which to process the collected data. The pod also housed three AN/ARR-88 panoramic receivers and all electronic signals were recorded on an AN/ANQ-IA wire recorder.

Photographic equipment consisted of four K-38 cameras at the multi-camera station, and on camera (either a T-11 or K-36) at the vertical camera station. For mapping purposes, the pod had three T-11 cartographic cameras. This RB-52B flies with the 2nd Bombardment Squadron of the 22nd Bombardment Wing (Heavy) at March AFB in California.


The NB-52B was B-52B number 52-0008 converted to an X-15 launch platform. It subsequently flew as “Balls 8” in support of NASA research until 17 December 2004, making it the oldest flying B-52B. It was replaced by a modified B-52H. The NB-52B was credited with 140 of the 199 X-15 flights. In order to carry the X-15 aloft, it was mounted to a specially designed pylon that fit underneath the starboard wing, between the 3 and 4 engine pod and the fuselage. The inboard flap was modified to accommodate the rocket plane’s vertical tail.

The NB-52B also participated in many other important projects, including the lifting body research aircraft program sponsored by the Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Started in 1966, the program's test flights were still going on in late 1973, with Martin Marietta's needle-nosed X-24 soon to be tested with the NB-52B. The permanently modified B-52B was also used to test solid rocket boosters for the space shuttle. Moreover, as a mother ship, it was expected to play an active role in the remotely piloted research vehicle program, another joint project of the Air Force and NASA.

In this image, “Balls 8” takes the X-15A aloft on one of its test flights. In order to fit the X-15 under the wing, a small trailing edge cut-out was required to the starboard inboard flap and part of the wing. During the drop, the X-15 pilot had to keep the aircraft within a 20-degree roll to prevent the vertical stabilizer contacting the starboard wing.


As a product of the evolutionary process, the B-52C design did not take shape until December 1953 and less than 30 months elapsed between design and first flight in March 1956. There was little difference externally from the B-variant apart from the addition of two large 3,000-gallon wing tanks. The B-52C entered service in June of 1956 and had an increased fuel load and range. All B-52Cs went to the 42nd Bomb Wing at Loring AFB, Maine and the 99th Bombardment Wing at Westover AFB, Massachusetts. The B-52C was retired in 1971.

The gross weight increased to 450,000 pounds. The new MD-9 fire control system for the tail turret was introduced, and the belly of the aircraft was painted with anti-flash gloss white paint, which was intended to reflect thermal radiation away after a nuclear detonation. The bombing-navigation system continued to be a problem for bombers in the atomic age, which called for greater instrument accuracy, increased automatic operation to reduce human error, and immunity from more sophisticated defences. Initially, the Sperry K-3A (which relied on radar and optics) and IBM MA-6A (used a combination of an optical bombsight, a radar presentation of the target, and an automatic computer) from the B-52B were tested but neither could function reliably. Therefore, the AN/ASB-15 was fitted to the B-52C but later retrofitted with the AN/ASQ-48 bombing system.

In this image, a B-52C from the 69th Bombardment Squadron of the 42nd Bombardment Wing flies patrol armed with two AGM-28 Hound Dog cruise missiles. Note the massive 3000 gallon external fuel tanks mounted near the wing tips. SAC’s Operation Chrome Dome had B-52 bombers armed with live thermonuclear weapons remaining on continuous airborne alert and flying routes to points on the Soviet Union border where, if ordered, they could perform first strike or retaliatory capability in the event of nuclear war. Many of the significant B-52 accidents involving live nuclear weapons occurred during Chrome Dome missions.


The D-variant was a dedicated long-range bomber without a reconnaissance option and marked the beginning of large-scale production. The new B-52Ds did not reach SAC until the fall of 1956, with the first aircraft joining the 42d Bomb Wing at Loring AFB, replacing the wing’s initial B-52Cs, and later deliveries going to the 93d Bomb Wing at Castle AFB. The B-52D was the core of the SAC fleet in the late 1950s and carried the burden of the conventional bombing campaign in Southeast Asia.

The “Big Belly” modifications allowed the B-52D to carry heavy loads of conventional bombs for carpet-bombing over Vietnam. The modifications allowed for the modified B-52Ds to carry 84 500-pound bombs (instead of 27) or 42 750-pound bombs (instead of 27), while the Rivet Rambler modification added the Phase V ECM systems, which was better than the systems used on most later B-52s. Because of these upgrades and its long-range capabilities, the D-variant was used more extensively in Vietnam than any other model. In April 1966, B-52Ds of the 28th and 484th Bomb Wings were assigned to the 4133rd Bomb Wing (Provisional) stationed at Anderson AFB on Guam and replaced SAC’s B-52Fs already there. In the spring of 1967, modified B-52Ds began to operate out of U Tapao Airfield in Thailand, thus able to carry out their assigned missions without the need for refuelling.

The aircraft assigned to Vietnam were painted in a camouflage colour scheme, with black bellies to defeat searchlights. 22 B-52Ds were lost in the conflict: 12 were lost to surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and other ground defenses while the other ten were lost in operational accidents of one kind or another. In this image, a “Big Belly” B-52D from the 77th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) of the 28th Bomb Wing drops a payload of Mk 82 500-pound bombs during Arc Light missions in Southeast Asia.


Apart from being equipped with more reliable avionics and electronics, the E-variant did not differ much from the D-variant. It was equipped with more reliable electronics, and the more accurate AN/ASQ-38 bombing navigation system replaced the B-52D’s final AN/ASQ-48. This gave the aircraft improved capability to fly and bomb at low altitude, a new tactic made necessary by improving Soviet air defences.

The relocation of some equipment and a slight redesign of the navigator-bombardier station increased crew comfort and provided better access to instruments and greater maintenance ease. Other dissimilarities between the two models grew from post-production modifications.

100 B-52Es were built and accepted by the USAF with production ending in mid-1958. In the mid-1970s, SAC’s bomber fleet was reduced and the B-52Es were designated non-operational active aircraft. While these aircraft were stored and maintained with operational units, no additional crews or maintenance personnel were authorized for these aircraft.

The second B-52E (56-0632) was assigned from the start to major test programs, used for prototyping landing gears, engines, and other major subsystems. The aircraft underwent permanent modifications in order to carry out specialized development projects as was re-designated NB-52E. The aircraft was intended to study electronic flutter and buffeting suppression systems, because several B-52s had been lost due to structural failures caused by aerodynamic stresses while flying at low level. Small swept winglets were attached alongside the nose, and a long probe extended from the nose. The wings were fitted with twice the number of control surfaces, and the traditional mechanical and hydraulic linkages that moved the control surfaces were replaced by electronic systems. The NB-52E later participated in the Load Alleviation and Mode Stabilization (LAMS) project. Wind gusts were detected and measured by a battery of sensors, which activated the control surfaces accordingly to cut down on the amount of fatigue damage to the structure of the aircraft.


Continued improvements of the J57 engine series prompted the November 1954 initiation of the B-52F design. Incorporating the new J57-P-43W engines necessitated changes to the wing structure, which also accommodated two additional wing tanks that would increase the water capacity of F-variant’s injection system. The first F-variants flew in May 1958 and started reaching SAC units in June 1958. Fuel leaks and fuel system icing initial problems plagued the early aircraft, but were subsequently resolved.

Like many earlier models, the F-variants participated in the High Stress and Big Four modification programs; installing MADREC (Malfunction Detection and Recording) equipment to detect and locate actual and incipient malfunctions in the bombing-navigation and autopilot systems. MADREC equipment would play an important role in monitoring the Hound Dog missiles.

In 1964, 28 F-variants underwent project South Bay that allowed the B-52 to carry externally 24 750-pound bombs. As activities in Southeast Asia increased in June 1965, a further 46 B-52Fs received similar modifications as project Sun Bath. These modifications almost doubled the aircraft’s original conventional bomb-load.

The first B-52 bombers that entered the war in Southeast Asia were B-52Fs. On 18 June 1965, the initial Arc Light bombing mission was carried out from Guam by 27 B-52Fs of the 7th and 320th Bomb Wings. The only two F-variant losses in Southeast Asian operations occurred when two aircraft collided mid-air on their way to the first Arc Light mission. Even though all deployed F-variants had received the South Bay and Sun Bath modifications to increase their bomb-load to 38,250 pounds, there were replaced before mid-1966 by the “Big Belly” modified B-52Ds.

In this image, B-52Fs from the 9th Bombardment Squadron of the 7th Bomb Wing head towards targets in Vietnam during the early phases of Arc Light operations armed with a payload of M117 750-pound bombs.


The design of the second generation Stratofortress began in the spring of 1956. Beginning with the basic airframe, new concepts, materials, and systems were introduced that increased the aircraft’s range, improved its defences, and decreased its maintenance requirements. The most significant change was a new “wet” wing with integral fuel tanks, increasing the gross aircraft weight to 488,000 pounds, and also including a pair of 700 US gallon external fuel tanks fitted under the wings on wet hardpoints. The traditional ailerons were eliminated in favour of spoilerons to provide roll control. The tail fin was shortened by 8 feet and gave the name (short tail” to the G- and H-variants and “long tail” to the previous ones.

The first second generation Stratofortress was the G-variant. The B-52G was proposed to extend the B-52’s service life during delays in the B-58 Hustler program. The B-52G kept the B-52F’s new J57-P-43W engine but the water injection system capacity was increased to 1,200 US gallons, the nose radome was enlarged and the tail cone revised.

Internally, the tail gunner was relocated to the main cockpit and was provided with an ejection seat. Dubbed the “Battle Station” concept, the offensive crew (pilot and co-pilot on the upper deck and the two bombing navigation system operations on the lower deck) faced forward, while the defensive crew (tail gunner and ECM operator) on the upper deck faced aft. The B-52G retained the AN/ASQ-38 bombing navigational system but featured the new AN/ASG-15 fire-control system and improved electronic countermeasures technology. Initially, the B-52G was intended to carry the North American AGM-28 Hound Dog standoff nuclear missile and the ADM-20 Quail decoy drone missiles.

In this image, a B-52G of the 416th Bombardment Wing stationed at Griffiss AFB in New York returns from a sortie during Operation Linebacker II in Southeast Asia in 1972. Note the new nose profile and shorter tail.


The Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) was the United States’ general plan for nuclear war from 1961 to 2003. The SIOP gave the President of the United States, a range of targeting options, and described launch procedures and target sets against which nuclear weapons would be launched. SAC’s strategic bomber fleet fulfilled one third of the nuclear triad, with land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and sea-based submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) rounding off the three.

Onboard a B-52 on airborne alert, a target folder was assigned to each bomber crew. If “Go Codes” were received in an “Emergency Action Message,” the pilot and radar navigator would authenticate them before distributing the SIP target folders to the crew and proceeding towards the target. These folders contained maps, photographs, and satellite images but each B-52 crew would individually plan their attack. At the height of the Cold War, more than 80,000 targets of interest in the Soviet Union, China, and other Soviet-aligned states were covered by the plan. SAC officially ended the B-52 airborne alert flights in 1968 and ended 24-hour alert duty in 1991.

One of the most iconic SIOPs in the public’s imagination was from the film Dr. Strangelove. It begins with B-52s of the 843rd Bomb Wing stationed at Burpelson AFB on airborne alert in the Arctic. Proceeding with Wing Attack Plan R (R as in Robert), the “Leper Colony” commanded by Maj T.J. “King” Kong begins a low-level penetration into the Soviet Union. Thwarted from their initial ICBM missile complex target at Laputa by a SAM attack, Maj Kong diverts his stricken plane to the missile complex at Kodlosk. Unable to launch the 30-megaton thermonuclear weapon, Kong heads to the bomb bay to see what he can do. The rest, as they say, is film history.

The B-52 variant in the movie is a hybrid of different variants. The short tail indicates a G or H variant and both would have been in service in 1964, the year the movie came out. The tail guns, though not modeled in detail, looks like it is from the G-variant but the slant nose is more characteristic of the B-F variants. The bomb bay is even more problematic. Judging by the scenes of Maj Kong crawling through the bomb bay, the set is at least 10 feet wide whereas the real bomb bay is only 6 feet wide. Plus, the “Leper Colony” carries two 20-30 megaton thermonuclear weapons side-by-side but most configurations in the early 1960s only carried single-megaton weapons.

For this model, I chose to replicate the appearance of the movie aircraft. While technically not a G-variant, it’s a collection of various Stratofortress features. My only addition is a serial number (64114): an homage to the year the movie came out and the infamous CRM-114 discriminator that failed, sending a select few to live in mineshafts.


The B-52G entered service on 13 February 1959, the day after the last B-36 was retired, making SAC an all-jet bomber force. The first B-52Gs went to the 5th Bomb Wing at Travis AFB, California. 193 G-variants were produced, making this the highest production model. It also went through several modifications and upgrades to adapt it to new mission profiles and different weapon delivery systems.

In 1970, the USAF decided to equip the B-52Gs to carry the AGM-69A short-range attack missile (SRAM). This involved the addition of underwing pylons, launch gear, rotary launchers, and new avionics and the first modified aircraft entered service in March 1972. Each modified B-52G could carry up to 20 SRAMs. 12 externally and eight on a rotary launcher inside the rear of the bomb bay. The missile was designed to attack targets ahead of the launch aircraft or could turn in flight to attack installations to the side or behind the bomber. It could carry a 170 kiloton W69 nuclear warhead.

The B-52Gs also underwent Phase IV ECM Defensive Avionics Systems upgrades to improve electronic countermeasures capabilities. The AN/ASQ-38 bomb/navigation equipment has replaced by the AN/ASQ-176 Offensive Avionics System (OAS) in the early 1980s along with modifications to carry the AGM-86B Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM). Under provisions of the SALT II treaty, aircraft carrying cruise missiles must be readily identifiable by reconnaissance satellites. The AGM-86B-equipped B-52G was provided with non-functional wing root fairings known as “strakelets,” which were aerodynamically and structurally integral with the aircraft. Later weapons carried by the B-52G include the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ships missile and the AGM-142A Raptor precision-guided air-to-ground missile.

B-52Gs participated in long-range strike missions in Operation Desert Storm, initially flying from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana to Iraq and back. This journey took 35 hours and covered 14,000 miles (23,000 km). Later sorties were flown from Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Diego Garcia. However, most of B-52Gs were destroyed in compliance with the 1992 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (SALT).

In this image, B-52G “Old Crow Express” of the 379th Bombardment Wing of Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan but assigned to the 1708th Bomb Wing (Provisional) stationed at Jeddah AB in Saudi Arabia is inbound to targets in Iraq during the early phases of Operation Desert Storm.


The H-variant had the same crew and structural changes as the G-variant. The most significant upgrade was the switch to the TF-33P-3 turbofan engines, which provided better performance and fuel economy than the J57 turbojets. The ECM and avionics were updated, a new AN/ASG-21 fire control system was fitted, and the rear defensive armament was changed from machine guns to a single 20 mm M61A1 Vulcan 20mm cannon. The final 18 aircraft were manufactured for the ADR-8 countermeasures rocket, which was later retrofitted to the remainder of the B-52G and B-52H fleet. A provision was made for four GAM-87 Skybolt missiles, but these never made it into production.

Two types of external pylons can be fitted underneath the wings of the B-52H. The longer variety was originally used for carrying the AGM-28 Hound Dog cruise missile whereas the shorter one was designed for conventional weapons carriage, and known as the “stub” wing pylon.

The stub pylon was originally fitted with the I-beam rack adapter, which could carry up to 12 weapons on each pylon. Two MER-1-6 or -6As are attached and the B-52H can carry a wide variety of conventional weapons. Like the B-52G, the B-52H was provided with the AGM-69 Short-Range Attack Missile (SRAM) and the AGM-86 Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM). The B-52H could carry 12 AGM-86B missiles underwing, six on each of the ALCM long-variety underwing pylons. In addition, the B-52H can also carry 12 AGM-129A Advanced Cruise Missile (ACM), which is a stealthy version of the AGM-86. In the late 1980s, further modifications made it possible for the B-52H to carry eight more AGM-86B missiles internally in a Common Strategic Rotary Launcher (CSRL), which was not fitted to the B-52G.

The aircraft’s first flight occurred on 10 July 1960, and it entered service on 9 May 1961 with the 379th Bomb Wing at Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan. A total of 102 B-52Hs were built and it is the only variant still in use with the USAF, flying with the 2nd Bomb Wing and 307th Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana and the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota. In this image, a CALCM-equipped B-52H of the 410th Bomb Wing stationed at K.I. Sawyer AFB flies a practice penetration mission. Note the external CALCM pylon mounted on the wings.


Since its introduction in 1960, the B-52H has gone through many electronics upgrades. Many of these were to improve the Stratofortress’ low-altitude operations profile, terrain-following radar and Electro-optical Viewing System (EVS), improved bomb/navigation systems, and forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensors. However, the most significant upgrade were the Phase IV ECM Defensive Avionics System (ECP2519) enhancements.

Phase IV was an upgrade program designed to improve electronic countermeasures capabilities of the B-52H fleet. Known under the code name Rivet Ace, the program started in 1971 with upgrades still continuing as the late 1980s. Externally, the most visible change was in the extreme aft fuselage, which was extended a further 40 inches rearward to accommodate the extra equipment. In 1991, the gunner’s station was removed the M61A1 Vulcan 20mm cannon in the tail was taken out. The gunner’s ejection seat was retained and can be occupied by an instructor or flight examiner who often accompanies the crew on training missions.

In 1994, the Conventional Enhancement Modification (CEM) program enhanced the B-52H’s capability for conventional warfare that it had not previously possessed. In the early 1990s, the USAF had tasked the B-52G for conventional and maritime warfare duties and B-52H restricted to the nuclear stand-off role. With the retirement of the G-variants, the B-52H had to assume some of the conventional roles. The AGM-142A and Harpoon missiles were fitted to Heavy Stores Adapter Beam (HSAB) on the underwing weapons pylons, which made it possible to accommodate weapons too long or heavy for the I-beam rack adapter. GPS navigation and new offensive and defensive systems were added as well as electronic preparation for a new generation of weapons not yet in the 1990s inventory such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), the Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW), and the Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD).

Today, the B-52H is capable of performing both conventional and nuclear missions. The B-52H has flown missions in Operation Desert Strike in 1996, Operation Allied Force in 1999, Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Operation Inherent Resolve in 2016 and currently in the War in Afghanistan carrying out close-air support missions. In this image, a B-52H with the 69th Bomb Squadron of the 5th Bomb Wing stationed at Minot AFB in North Dakota flies a support mission in Afghanistan. Note the bomb load of GBU-31 JDAMs mounted on the external stub pylons with a Heavy Stores Adaptor Beam (HSAB).


Here is a view inside the BUFF. I modelled the cockpit for the first generation (A-F variants) and the second generation (G-H variants) as well as the tandem arrangement for the XB-52 prototype. When considering building the Stratofortress, I had to confront Ralph Savelberg’s outstanding B-52H. I was worried about replicating Ralph’s design too much but after speaking with him, he gave his blessing and I proceeded with the build (thanks, Ralph!). Once I began the design and build, I realized that our approach was different. In the end, there are a few similarities in the tail and fin and in a few minor areas of the fuselage (acknowledgement given) but different in most other areas. I drew mostly upon my previous models, such as the B-47, B-36, and C-130, for design influence.


This is a small sample of the munitions and armament that the BUFF has carried over its 60 years in service. I designed them to attach to two of the three (due to the AGM-28 pylon only really works with the Hound Dog) pylons. The AGM-28 pylon also includes a Standard Rack Adapter Beam (SRAB) and two multiple ejector rack (MER) while a “stub” version works with a Heavy Stores Adapter Beam (HSAB) and a MAU-12 ejector rack. These pylons attach to a wing connection point between the fuselage and inboard engines.

Thanks to Wikipedia, David Steve Davies’ “Boeing B-52 Stratofortress Owner’s Workshop Manual,” Global Security’s thorough account of the B-52, and Joe Baugher’s extensive website on the BUFF and a host of other fascinating material. Thanks to Ralph for his consent and to all my followers who encourage my work. Your support and interest is greatly appreciated!



Comments

 I made it 
  February 17, 2019
Quoting Nick Barrett Stunning, great to see such high quality stuff still on MP.
Thanks, Nick! There are still some amazing MOCs out there but MP has definitely slowed down a lot. Thanks for your support.
 I like it 
  February 17, 2019
Stunning, great to see such high quality stuff still on MP.
 I made it 
  February 2, 2019
Quoting john lamarck Good work as usual. Love all these details.
Thanks, John!
 I like it 
  February 2, 2019
Good work as usual. Love all these details.
 I made it 
  January 29, 2019
Quoting James Donovan This is beautiful! I always enjoy the model and presentation you do for your models.
Thanks, James! I appreciate the comments and continued support.
 I like it 
  January 29, 2019
This is beautiful! I always enjoy the model and presentation you do for your models.
 I made it 
  January 27, 2019
Quoting adam thelegofan rutland awesome story!:D
Thanks, Adam!
 I like it 
  January 27, 2019
awesome story!:D
 I made it 
  January 24, 2019
Quoting Jeremy McCreary Spectacular model of a spectacularly successful and long-lived aircraft. The B52 has dished out far too much death and destruction in my book, and not always for good causes, but you can't argue with the design.
Thanks, Jeremy! The BUFF has been around for a long time. The soundness of its design and construction is a testament to its longevity. I agree that it has a sad association with destruction but, ironically, that was its intention from the start.
 I like it 
  January 24, 2019
Spectacular model of a spectacularly successful and long-lived aircraft. The B52 has dished out far too much death and destruction in my book, and not always for good causes, but you can't argue with the design.
 I made it 
  January 24, 2019
Quoting Clayton Marchetti Magnificent work Kurt! I love the early model with the bubble canopy. Hard to believe these are still in service after all these years. I also like the one carrying the X-15.
Thanks, Clayton! The BUFF is a venerable aircraft.
 I made it 
  January 24, 2019
Quoting Michael Cichonsky I spent all night working on the Phase IV H Model from Minot, converting it to be built with real bricks. I'm currently stationed there and cannot wait to build this plane in brick, and probably donate it to the base or local Air Museum. Great work!
Thanks, Michael! Good luck with building the model. Send me a pic when it's done.
 I like it 
  January 24, 2019
Magnificent work Kurt! I love the early model with the bubble canopy. Hard to believe these are still in service after all these years. I also like the one carrying the X-15.
 I like it 
  January 23, 2019
I spent all night working on the Phase IV H Model from Minot, converting it to be built with real bricks. I'm currently stationed there and cannot wait to build this plane in brick, and probably donate it to the base or local Air Museum. Great work!
 I made it 
  January 23, 2019
Quoting Tom's MOCs An outstanding piece of work. It must be your modesty that you say so much about the aircraft and (by comparison) little about the design / build process. The Lego angle here has almost vanished entirely but when I enlarge the photos I can say - Oh yeah, THERE are some studs! I appreciate hearing such info as the dimensions of Lego designs (feet, inches) to have an idea if it would fit on my dining room table! In this case I was curious about how (apparently) the wheels of the landing gear are rotated 90d for flight, such that they would sit on their rims, not their treads. I hope as you continue designing that you tantalize us with stories of some design challenges you were pleased to conquer and how you did it. (That is the builder in me speaking ...)
Thanks for your comments, Tom. I like to provide some background information on these models--its the history enthusiast in me. This is a big model, measuring around 3 1/2 ft by 4 1/2 ft in length and width. As per the landing gear, they are a crazy design but I don't believe the wheels rest on any part of the fuselage. I think the struts keep them in place. Regarding my design and build, I used a lot of techniques from my other large models, described elsewhere on my site. I'm slowly developing a collection of techniques for wings and fuselages that seem to work in most cases. Perhaps I will elaborate more on them in the future. Thanks for the continued support and interest in my work!
 I like it 
  January 23, 2019
An outstanding piece of work. It must be your modesty that you say so much about the aircraft and (by comparison) little about the design / build process. The Lego angle here has almost vanished entirely but when I enlarge the photos I can say - Oh yeah, THERE are some studs! I appreciate hearing such info as the dimensions of Lego designs (feet, inches) to have an idea if it would fit on my dining room table! In this case I was curious about how (apparently) the wheels of the landing gear are rotated 90d for flight, such that they would sit on their rims, not their treads. I hope as you continue designing that you tantalize us with stories of some design challenges you were pleased to conquer and how you did it. (That is the builder in me speaking ...)
 I made it 
  January 23, 2019
Quoting BATOH rossi fantastic work Kurt, as your habit! in particular it is very appreciable to have included the very first prototype with the pilot cabin with elongated glazing;)
Thanks for your comments, BATOH. The XB prototype is such a wonderful looking aircraft that I had to include it! Thanks for noticing!
 I like it 
  January 23, 2019
fantastic work Kurt, as your habit! in particular it is very appreciable to have included the very first prototype with the pilot cabin with elongated glazing;)
 I made it 
  January 23, 2019
Quoting Seaman SPb Excellent work, Kurt!
Thanks, Seaman!
 I like it 
  January 23, 2019
Excellent work, Kurt!
 
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