A Vietnam-era B-52’s Latest Mission: A 1,400-mile Road Trip


On January 3, 2022, individuals in Arizona witnessed a singular spectacle. A Boeing B-52H Stratofortress, or not less than its 160-foot-long fuselage, was hitting the street.

The bomber in query, B-52H 61-0009, often known as Harm Inc. II, had served the U.S. Air Power actively from 1961 to September 25, 2008, when it was retired to the 309th Aerospace Upkeep and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Power Base. Then it was recalled to obligation to assist develop a brand new technology of B-52s. The B-52J “Centuryfortress” program will see the set up of recent sensors, communications tools, avionics, defensive countermeasures and Rolls-Royce engines within the remaining 76 B-52s to enhance their effectivity and sustainability till not less than the 12 months 2050. 

Harm Inc. II will function an “integration mannequin” for the analysis and improvement of the B-52J and the hypersonic weapons initiative that can arm it. In accordance with the Air Power’s $2.8-million contact to aerospace engineering agency J.F. Taylor in Maryland, the fuselage and left wing will serve that goal in Oklahoma Metropolis, whereas the precise wing and horizonal stabilizer will go to McFarland Analysis & Growth in Kansas for the B-52H Plane Structural Integrity Program

The fuselage of a B-52 Stratofortress nicknamed Harm Inc. II travels from Arizona to a Boeing facility in Oklahoma. (U.S. Air Power/April McDonald)

“As new weapons are developed and are available readily available, we are able to use it to see how the weapons connect, what wants to vary, and in the event that they match on the plane,” defined Colonel Louis Ruscetta, B-52 senior materiel chief with the Bombers Directorate. “That is an asset that can assist us combine completely different objects onto the plane faster. A further profit is the associated fee to take care of a mock-up is pretty low.”

The bomber started its journey in July 2021 on the Pima Air and House Museum in Tucson, the place it underwent 4 months of disassembly. From there, the elements, together with the fuselage, had been transported cross nation, with Worldwide Plane Restoration overseeing the challenge and Ball & Son dealing with the precise shifting. With the still-gigantic elements taking over two lanes of site visitors, the transports needed to halt incessantly to permit wide-eyed drivers to go. Navigating some turns and underpasses left solely inches to spare. The fuselage reached its vacation spot in Oklahoma on January 22 after a 1,407-mile journey. Lengthy because it was, the street journey was nonetheless less expensive than getting the bomber again into the air for a single, final flight would have been.

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