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  • 38

See A Dozen B-52 Nuclear Bombers Takeoff Together

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The United States 5th Bomb Wing B-52s and their crews recently performed a mass takeoff during Prairie Vigilance exercise at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. Prairie Vigilance is an annual exercise designed to test the wing’s ability to conduct conventional and nuclear-capable bomber operations. (aviationbuzzword.com) More...

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hellett1
Harry Ellett 4
After serving 7 years in SAC; beginning with them during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I have seen many of these. It seemed that back then in the "Cold War" the take-off spacing was much closer. Back then it was called Minimum Interval Take-off or MITO and a MITO meant 15 second intervals between aircraft. The early model B-52s were powered by J-57B engines. Later models were equipped with much better fan-jet engines. Of course, the nuclear means they were capable of carrying and delivering nuclear weapons on an enemy and that is what they were built for, so they have always been capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Considering its use in Vietnam and in the Middle-East, I like to refer to the B-52 as the true weapon of mass destruction. Check this link and see if you agree. https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/B-52-3.jpg
tbpera
Tom Pera 2
remember the water injection on those 52s and 135s...after alert launch the sky was BLACK
hellett1
Harry Ellett 1
Yes, I remember the water injection. Blowing smoke until all the water tanks were empty and you could see the smoke stop when the water ran out.
hellett1
Harry Ellett 2
The water injection is to cool the EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature) giving the engine more thrust.
annellandfrank
John Taylor 1
Oh yes, the MITO was necessary at the time and truly spectacular; also dangerous as hell! But then some SAC big-wig decided we needed a "night" MITO; now that was really spectacular!! I was always amazed that the crews made it work; and w/few accidents! That's right! It was SAC B-52 crew/cockpit integrity (from brake-release back to chocks; NO small talk!), religious use of check-off lists,
and constant training that set the standard still copied today by all major air-carriers!!
ToddBaldwin3
ToddBaldwin3 1
Nobody did checklists like SAC.
WhiteKnight77
WhiteKnight77 1
I was born on a SAC bomber base (that no longer exists) and my Pops was on alert and was one of the guys making up strike packages. As a photo-interpreter, he saw the missile sites that the bomber boys would be targeting. The good thing, we were far enough north to not be able to be targeted. To this day, I swear I see pics of my Pops in documentaries about the Cuban Missile Crisis. After that, it was on to Barksdale. Looking back, everywhere I lived while he was in would have been a target. Sadly, not much has really changed since the wall/iron curtain came down.
tbpera
Tom Pera 4
These are our nuclear response team... without credible striking power and retaliation we'd be a lot less safe from Russia, China, N Korea, Iran etc used to have these on alert at end of runway ... at many bases... now only at Minot...Barksdale B52s not nuclear coded... Whiteman's B2s are, too... used to launch 4-5 of these with 4-5 KC135s in a couple of minutes... this fun to look at but not very impressive compared to old SAC alert routine
Element94
John Speranza 1
Arguably, SLBM-based deterrents are just as effective, if not more, than their aircraft or land-based counterparts. For a B-52 to deliver its payload, you need significant military assets to dominate the airspace first. If our deterrence is real and credible without subsonic, 1950's-era bombers, why do we keep them around? Just some food for thought...
tbpera
Tom Pera 3
we've always maintained a 3 tier nuclear response system..bombers, land based ICBMs, and SLBM, keeping 3 different systems help insure that if enemy makes a breakthrough in locating submarines, or in countering bombers , or in stopping land based missiles, they'll be something left for deterrence
jbsimms
James Simms 2
But on the other hand, one can always call back the B-52's, B-1's, & B-2's if need be (despite Fail-Safe & Dr. Strangelove).
Element94
John Speranza 2
"Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness." -JFK
PSUAth
up until the point they actually release the weapons... all systems do have a point of no return
hellett1
Harry Ellett 1
The subject you opened up here is very vast and complex. No intention on my part to be confrontational but rather to expand on the subject matter. As for the B-52, it has been kept very current over the year on the latest in electronic countermeasures and while air dominance is preferable, the aircraft in spite of its size and shape is pretty stealthy. Russia and China are moving on to hyper-sonic delivery systems which will complicate our air defense systems. Laser weapons are beginning to come of age and are being put on-board our Navy ships and even in some ground vehicles. Laser weapons have be flying in large aircraft such as old C-135s for some time and have demonstrated some effectiveness. An old man like me will never live to see these thing coming. Maybe that is good.
ToddBaldwin3
ToddBaldwin3 1
You're probably thinking about the YAL-1, Airborne Ballistic Laser. It was a chemical laser mounted in a 747 airframe. The ABL was a program I was aiming for. Sadly, it was cancelled before I could get there. It was sent to the bone yard, and finally dismantled.
Element94
John Speranza 1
I suppose my point is that, if the weapon system's primary objective is deterrence, and that objective is better met through the use of another system, then it's probably acceptable that we don't have the old SAC alert routine mentioned above. In another sense, the B-52 in its current mission doesn't really speak to nuclear deterrence, as much as it speaks to delivering a massive amount of conventional ordnance on a target cheaply. My bet would be if the US actually decided to launch an airborne nuclear strike, it would be on a B-61 delivered with a B-2...not a B-52. And in that sense, the B-52 as a nuclear bomber is deprecated. But, I'm just a civvie, so I can't speak with any degree of expertise on the subject.
tbpera
Tom Pera 3
B52s at Minot nuclear "coded"...B52s at Barksdale load iron bombs... Minot bombers not on alert...neither are the B2s at Whitman... B2s penetrate and launch bombs... B52s would stay out at perimeter and launch long range cruise missiles... again can't have all eggs in one basket...safer to have 3-4 alternative delivery systems
hellett1
Harry Ellett 2
I think you are right.
loomis
loomis 2
If you want to see one camera view, non-stop video of a MITO at Minot, check this video out.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ7niLYSVFo

I have seen many of these, having be station at Minot AFB for 8 years back in the 80's.
ToddBaldwin3
ToddBaldwin3 1
I was there as a young LT in 1986. Been through plenty of alerts.
andrewcarter747b
Love thos good old aircraft pitty they get stored in deserts never to fly again yet, if war broke out i am sure these aircraft would be taken out of being mothballed and put into service. It's like waking up a sleeping giant when needed
tbpera
Tom Pera 3
sadly, they broke them all up...google earth davis-monthan AFB
ToddBaldwin3
ToddBaldwin3 2
That brings back some memories.
hellett1
Harry Ellett 2
Let me see if my memory can recall a few things about the old B-52Ds. Basic weight of the aircraft was about 162 thousand pounds; with crew and all of their gear; nuclear weapons and on alert with a full EWO (Emergency War Order) fuel load, when the aircraft rolled down the runway for take-off it weighed roughly 500,000 pounds. On the way to an enemy target, most would receive at least one air refueling of another 125,000 pounds of fuel. I wonder how long I could run my car on that much fuel. At one time SAC had 500 B-52s.
tbpera
Tom Pera 3
without SAC burning all that fuel, you wouldn't have a car
pr0ject
El Kabong 3
When did B52s become nuclear powered?
ToddBaldwin3
ToddBaldwin3 2
The Air Force did take a stab at a nuclear powered bomber. They outfitted a B-36 with a reactor and did operate the reactor, although it did not power the aircraft. The flight crews could only fly one short mission.
zennermd
zennermd 2
Hi El, someone correct me if I am wrong, but I am of the understanding the B-52 was designed from the beginning as a nuclear bomber that took a conventional bomber role sometime after? Does anyone know if it was designed solely as a nuclear bomber, or did they design it from the beginning to be both conventional and nuclear capable?
tbpera
Tom Pera 3
yep...was nuclear bomber... then, when they need something to drop a lot of iron bombs during Vietnam war, they modified a bunch of "D" models to cary 60-80,000 lbs of iron bombs.... flew 100+ times over Laos on recce bird...they'd move us out of the way, 3 flights of 3 B52s each would drop bombs all over the trail... never sure if they hit anything...just jungle
MHarryE
Designed for nuclear delivery to be able to carry the very large nuclear weapons of the era, but really obsolete in that need for ages. Able to reconfigure to carry massive iron bomb loads used in Nam. From the start realization of difficulty to penetrate USSR defenses so also served as missile launch platform. Still around because of its ability to carry the massive loads at a cost much lower than B-1B or B2.
PSUAth
El, They are not. they are "nuclear" in the sense that they can deliver a nuclear bomb. more of like a nuclear missile has an atomic payload, not powersource.

yes it is confusing because of the nuclear subs and carriers.
pr0ject
El Kabong 4
I was being sarcastic. =P The title implied they were nuclear powered.
joelwiley
joel wiley 5
The sarcasm font is greatly needed. [sarcasm] [/sarcasm] might work in the meantime 8-)
PSUAth
or using `this` symbol?
PSUAth
Ah. hard to read sarcasm online w/o additional tells ;-)

Cheers
zennermd
zennermd 1
It would have helped if I had read what you typed correctly... that was my bad.
Cadefoster
Cade foster 3
I think having Nuclear in the heading is not needed and there just for its shock value. But what can we expect from "News" reporting these days...
joelwiley
joel wiley 2
You are certainly entitled to your opinion, and I understand your point about the "Breathless News Network". However, I disagree about the 'nuclear' being extraneous as nuclear [capable] was emphasized by the group commander:

“Airmen from the 5th Bomb Wing were tasked to demonstrate our nuclear [capable] tasking without prior notification or coordination,” Col. Douglas Warnock, 5th Operations Group commander, said.

I recall the 15th bomb wing at March AFB going overhead as they deployed for Guam for missions in SE Asia. BUFFs over the house every 30 seconds or so was an impressive sight.
MarshallTollefson
Looks like one-at-a-time to me. Hardly together -
KauaiGolfer
KauaiGolfer 2
What happened to "train like you fight?" Doesn't look like anybody's in a hurry here.
PegLegGuy
Billy Gee 1
.
.
Rock & Rod:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq6Hpxyrhyo


.
ToddBaldwin3
ToddBaldwin3 1
From the movie "A Gathering of Eagles"
iflyfsx
iflyfsx 1
Yeah. Let's celebrate a murder-suicide pact.
Sparkbox
Sparkbox 1
I have always wondered if these birds sit on the tarmac already loaded with their nuclear weapons. If not, how much longer would it take to load, check, and takeoff?
bobbyb
Bobby Brunz 1
I grew up in the direct flight path of the old Carswell AFB. As a small boy, the B-52 would absolutely scare the hell outta me!! So big, loud, so much black smoke. My father would occasionally take me out near the flight line to watch the touch & gos. There were also many KC 135 & F111 in those days. Very busy skies I remember - seemed something was always doing maneuvers overhead at low altitude.
More humorously, I had an elementary school art teacher who refused to let these planes interrupt her class in the wooden annex building. As they would approach she would get louder & louder, eventually to the point of screaming. :-)
LSCouch
Larry Couch 1
While I was in seminary in the late 70's I had the fortunate opportunity to see a scramble of B-52s taking off from Carswell AFB west of Fort Worth, Texas. I was driving east on the interstate into Fort Worth, heading on to Dallas. In the time that I was approaching the area and passing it, plane after plane took off -- with little space between each. It brought pride to me as an American to see the power and impressiveness of the take-off rolls one after another. Now, almost 40 years later, it still brings goosebumps of pride in America.
swannie
swannie 1
I've always wondered why don't they use parallel runways for this? Seems like a cheap thing to add, you could launch the jets twice as fast and (in theory) since the volume of planes per runway is less the last few would have less wake turbulence?

Sincerely,
Arm Chair Pilot :)
PSUAth
quick google search shows that the AFB doesn't "own" the land required for a second runway. I doubt it would be hard for the aFB to actually acquire the land (but still a process) then the time to build, and eventually maintain said runway makes this less economical in practice.
swannie
swannie 1
ahh, yeah, I assumed it was a large sprawling parcel of government land ...
TorontoJeff
Jeff Phipps 1
I can't help think of the movie Dr. Strangelove overtime I see a B52 ;-)
Love how they take off and land parallel to the runway. No flare landing these babies!

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