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B-52 Stratofortress: The SAC Years | Photos

When the B-52 Stratofortress entered operational service with the 93rd Heavy Bombardment Wing on June 29, 1955, no one could predict that the bombers would still be in service more than half a century later. The B-52, which was designed as a winged nuclear deterrent for the Strategic Air Command (SAC) in the event of war with the Soviet Union, has outlived SAC by more than 20 years. Fortunately the B-52 never had to be put to the test with regard to its ability to penetrate Soviet airspace, but it has rendered valuable service to the U.S. Air Force over many decades, with no end in sight.

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Steven Hoarn is the Editor/Photo Editor for Defense Media Network. He is a graduate of...

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-26200">
    claudia Graber

    beautiful!

    li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-26204">

    I have many fond memories of my BUFF time (2,000 hrs) as an EWO at Westover in the 99th BW, 348th BS (1961-66). Most memorable was when we launched off alert during the Cuban Missile Crisis as President Kennedy gave his famous speech on tv (22 Oct. 1962). We were loaded with four Mark-28 hydrogen bombs and our target was Moscow. Fortunately, everything ended without going to war.

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-26224">
    R. J. Kennedy

    Major Kong, I know this is going to sound crazy but we just received a coded message from base over the CRM 114. It decodes as Wing Attack Plan R.

    Goldie, did you say Wing Attack Plan R?

    Yes sir I did, R for Robert.

    Goldie, how many times have I told you fellers I don’t want no horsin’ around on the airplane?

    But sir, we’re not horsing around, that’s how the message decodes!

    Well, I’ve been to one world’s fair, a picnic and a rodeo and that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard come over a set of headphones. Are you sure you’ve got today’s codes?

    Yes sir, I am.

    Well shoot, there’s just gotta be some kind of mistake. Hang on a minute I’m coming back there.

    Dialogue from the 1963 film: “Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (much of which takes place onboard a B-52) transcribed,flawlessy, from memory.

    li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-26229">

    Well, I’ve been to one world fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of earphones. You sure you got today’s codes?

    I don’t give a hoot in Hell how you do it, you just get me to the Primary, ya hear!

    Well, boys, we got three engines out, we got more holes in us than a horse trader’s mule, the radio is gone and we’re leaking fuel and if we was flying any lower why we’d need sleigh bells on this thing … but we got one little budge on them Rooskies. At this height why they might harpoon us but they dang sure ain’t gonna spot us on no radar screen!

    If the pilot’s good, see, I mean if he’s reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low … oh you oughta see it sometime. It’s a sight. A big plane like a ’52 … varrrooom! Its jet exhaust … frying chickens in the barnyard!

    Stay on the bomb run, boys! I’m gonna get them doors open if it harelips ever’body on Bear Creek!

    Hey, where’d Major Kong go?

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-26241">

    LOL:
    Dr.Strangelove was a great movie. B-52 crewmembers like myself roared with laughter when we watched it while on alert in 1964. http://community-2.webtv.net/CobraBall/DrStrangelove/

    li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-26263">

    I fell in love with the Air Force in 1967 when my brother Richard took me to see the B-52s sortie at Dow AFB in Bangor Maine…I ended up spending over thirty years in the Air Force with one assignment in SAC but I saw a bunch of B-52s during my career. Indeed, they outlasted me and still serve the nation proudly. If there are any old Dow AFB Airman out there, thank you for your inspiration!

    li class="comment byuser comment-author-chuck-oldham even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-26273">

    Were you guys aware of how close things were to going south in a hurry? Is it just memorable in retrospect, or was it a high pucker factor kind of mission?

    li class="comment byuser comment-author-chuck-oldham odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-26274">

    Slim Pickens, RIP. God bless him.

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-26296">

    @ Chuck Oldham: The situation for us was very tense throughout the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was especially tense when we went to DEFCON 2. There was always “a sense of urgency” when it came to performing our mission in SAC during the “Cold War”.

    DEFCON: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DEFCON

    li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-26374">
    Glenn Gilbert

    Armed Forces Day, 1966, Wurtsmith AFB, Oscoda, MI, 379th Bomb Wing (H). A returning B-52 flyby and the aircraft went vertical. Amazing sight!

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-27741">
    Roni Ann Aborn

    I was one of the first female maintenance troops at Barksdale AFB in 1973-75. I was a Doppler technician and fought with the Bomb/Nav guys about what was really broken and the “winds” issues. They didn’t let me work debrief for long, cuz I would ask the newbie crews if the O. N. – O. F. F. switch was in the O. N. position. Cheers! Still supporting our warfighters in the acquisition field at Wright Patterson AFB.

    li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-47737">

    Hello from Down Under! As an eight year old in 1978 or 1979,
    I saw flying high over my junior school what I found later
    could only be a B-52B, looked like three turbines per wing,
    but no, a long-ranger with tanks on it’s way to East Sale. Is this right?
    Was aware then and as ever now the importance of the USA/Australia
    ANZUS Treaty. Up top in Darwin, Down Under, for rotations is
    so welcome. My best wishes and I salute the USAF.

    li class="comment byuser comment-author-chuck-oldham even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-48196">

    I don’t know what else it could have been, Gabriel. Your theory makes sense.