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B-52 PROTOTYPE FIRST FLEW 40 YEARS AGO

 B-52 PROTOTYPE FIRST FLEW 40 YEARS AGO
 WICHITA, Kan., April 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The prototype of the first


airplane to be launched in the Gulf War made its initial flight 40 years ago tomorrow from Boeing Field in Seattle.
 Boeing News, the company newspaper, described the April 15, 1952 takeoff of the YB-52, predecessor of the B-52, this way: "The wheels started to roll. This was it. The thunderous roar of the engines grew louder as the plane gained speed. It raced down the runway with deceptive speed, past the other bombers that had made history taking off from here: the smaller B-47s, the B-50s, the B-29s and an old but proud B-17."
 Guy Townsend, an Air Force lieutenant colonel at the time, was the co-pilot. "I had the longest cockpit check in the world," he remembered. "But I had absolute confidence that everything was going to be all right." Seattle rolled out the first B-52 production model two years later. Boeing's Wichita plant was named a second production source and delivered the first Kansas-built B-52 in 1955, hailed by Undersecretary of the Air Force James H. Douglas as "the greatest bomber...in the world today."
 Boeing went on to build more than 700 B-52s, 467 in Wichita and 277 in Seattle. The last was delivered in 1962. Modifications by Boeing Defense & Space Group in Wichita have kept the bombers up-to- date for the U.S. Air Force. Dave Baker, Defense & Space Group manager for bombers and avionics programs, said, "Fleet modernization has incorporated new technologies that will make the B-52 weapons system viable for years to come."
 In fact, in Gulf War action, B-52 reliability records were even better than in Vietnam; the bombers dropped nearly a third of all bombs used in the Gulf and flew more than 1,600 missions.
 The B-52's longevity has been credited to a good design and adaptability to changing defense needs.
 About 180 B-52s are in Air Force service today, and they continue to make history. The airplane, originally built to carry nuclear weapons to targets thousands of miles away, recently returned from a friendly, first-time visit to Moscow -- as part of an Air Force exchange program.
 -0- 4/14/92
 /CONTACT: Carolyn Russell of Boeing Defense & Space Group, 316-526-3902 or 316-634-1634/ CO: Boeing Defense & Space Group ST: Kansas, Washington IN: AIR SU:


MC -- DV008 -- 8247 04/14/92 15:13 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 14, 1992
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