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Discussion in 'AviatorChat.com' started by Bob Parks, Dec 6, 2015.

  1. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
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    I read an article in the New York Times stating that the old decaying B-52's are soldiering on in spite of being so "RUSTY!" They are so rusty that water is leaking through the roof. Don't you love it when articles are written by those who haven't the slightest idea of what a B-52 is other than a 63 year old rusty airplane. He was correct, however, when he stated that nothing that we have built in the last 20 years to replace the B-52 has been successful and we still don't have a replacement. Iv'e mentioned it before that I started my life at Boeing in 1950 working on the B-52 as a structural mechanic. I saw the first flight in 1952 and was finally convinced that that huge honker would actually fly. Now it's slated to live until 2040 and I know that it's going to outlive me...but after all, the medics don't yet have a major refurb line fer ol' goats like me. What an amazing machine! Uh, the B-52, not me.
     
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  3. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Bob- The last B-52Hs were built on a 1962 contract, so many of the B-52's crews' parents are younger than the aircraft they are flying.
     
  4. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
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    Crazy and confusing math now with the B-52..
     
  5. Gatorrari

    Gatorrari F1 World Champ
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    If they plan to keep flying them for any length of time, they ought to put high-bypass turbofans on them. Maybe they can get them from retired jumbo jets, just as the KC-135E fleet got them from retired 707s.
     
  6. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
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    I have thought this for a long time but I have been told that the extent of the changes to aircraft systems and structures isn't worth it. I have always thought that it was. I still think that it would pay off since the airplane is slated to fly for another 35 years. I still can't believe that!
     
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  8. Tcar

    Tcar F1 Rookie

    I'm assuming that they could easily go with 4 turbofans to replace the 8 existing engines.

    Yes?
     
  9. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
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    It would not be so easy when you have to work with the military air force people who traditionally don't want to change anything on a piece of machinery that is already working pretty good. Especially when there are plenty of cheap J57's laying around. And , just think, if there was a B-52 with an engine failure, they couldn't yell for special clearance because they were faced with deadly 7 engine approach.
     
  10. nerofer

    nerofer F1 World Champ

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    #8 nerofer, Dec 7, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
    I'm not going to lecture americans about their own planes, and certainly not Bob who even worked on them, but there were actually two different projects/programs to re-engine the "Buff", about which most aviation magazines (Air International, etc...) published some articles.
    The irony is that the first one, at the beginning of the eighties, with four P&W engines replacing the eight existing ones, was abandoned because "it would have been un-economical, as the plane was about to be retired very soon"; the second one, with Rolls-Royce engines, during the 1990's was ditched for the very same reason.
    It seems that a third one is discussed these days, but as you are closer from the Air Force and the Pentagon that I am, you may have more precise information. See the link enclosed:

    http://aviationweek.com/defense/b-52-re-engine-resurfaces-usaf-reviews-studies

    Rgds
     
  11. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
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    I got to thinking about working on the B-52 at two different times when I started. First, as a mechanic on B-50 Mod programs and B-52, then as an experimental gas turbine mechanic, next was the B-52 as a production illustrator and I stayed with that until I was put on the KC-97 mod in Renton. Then came a long stretch starting with the 367-80, then 707, 727,C-5, SST, 747, 767, and 777 as a Tech. Designer and finally advanced models of the 747. Still seems like just yesterday.
     
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  13. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

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    Bob, or anyone else for that matter, any idea how much time the remaining active B52 airframes have?

    Or what Boeing considered their life to be when built?

    I know a number have been preserved at Davis Monthan. Id guess they were either the high time airframes or needed more to remain airworthy than others at the time they were parked.
     
  14. ralfabco

    ralfabco Two Time F1 World Champ
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    I imagine the H spent a considerable amount of time on alert. The H never flew in the Vietnam War.
     
  15. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
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    The original design was meant to fly high and long and had the appropriate materials in the airframe to do so but when they decided to use them in low altitude penetration roles, they started to break from the gust loads and turbulence. So, they went into repair depots and refurbishing to keep the airframes intact. I recall that some alloys were changed to more fatigue resistant material and the airplanes aren't anything like they were when they started out. They are in a constant state of inspection, repair, and redesign. So I don't know how one could calculate their life span. The original concept, structural design, and aerodynamics has to be one of the most remarkable achievements in engineering. One element that was not right on the original was the pneumatically driven alternators that were located under the forward fuselage tanks. Disastrous results when a red hot turbine blade went upward.
     
  16. schwaggen

    schwaggen Karting

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    #13 schwaggen, Dec 7, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
    Read this article with interest. In many ways it's a cautionary tale about the current state of military procurement in this country- the B-52 was designed and built for a very specific purpose at the height of the Cold War, and unintentionally created as a framework that could be used for a variety of purposes and missions, in a time when the military asked for what it wanted, and then went and got it.

    The reasons it is still in deployment are obvious to anyone who checks in here- it's been easier and cheaper to keep them flying than to spec/build a replacement, and the rapid evolution of the missions/threats/tech have seen various solutions evolved out of relevance before they could even really get started.

    Then you get to see something like the F-35, which demonstrates the bloated and politicized nature of today's military procurement, over which flies the BUFF, doing its job day in and day out while committees argue, and contractors count their money.
     
  17. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
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    Well spoken.
     
  18. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Incidentally, the B-52H already has turbofans, just not quite as high bypass as the ones on airliners since they are a 50s design. One problem the retrofits have always had was ground clearance, especially with the negative dihedral on the B-52. Much easier on a KC-135 with dihedral.
     
  19. jcurry

    jcurry F1 World Champ
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    Of course the B-52 is a high wing vs the low wing KC-135.


    Terry, just out of curiosity what is your opinion of the B-52 vs the B-1B as a loitering PGM delivery platform, e.g. as employed at the beginning of the Afghan conflict? Are number of munitions nearly equal, range/loiter time, etc.
     
  20. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
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    The JT3D fan engine had only a slight increase in diameter but I guess enough to cause some problems on the outboard positions. The B-52 wing is O degrees , jig position, flat. It gets the anhedral effect because of the 7.5 deg. incidence that rotates the tips and outboard nacelles down. It also has tremendous twist from plus 7.5 to minus 2 deg. at the tips. The maximum tip travel is 34 feet up and I think 17 feet down. If you can watch a take off you can see the outboard wing start to fly and lift long before the rest of the airplane lifts. No B-52 can be fully fueled before take off due to wing droop and the inability to lift the outd wings. Once in the air they are topped off by a tanker. Something that will forever stick in my mind is the fuel vent duct in the aft fuselage. It was about 10 inches in diameter and had a big loop in it about half way between the wing and tail. When I asked about it, I was told that the aft fuselage bending up and down on the ground and in flight required it or it would break.
     
  21. nerofer

    nerofer F1 World Champ

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    Quite a career, Bob…
    The KC-97 I remember seeing once over Germany, as late as in the seventies: some of these, of the ANG if my memory serves me well, came over here with a wing of fighters. Quite a sight - and sound - those big piston-engined things. It was perhaps the last time they came over (?).
    I was living on the French/german border at the time, and even if the seventies were not always a happy time, as the tension of the cold war was to be felt from time to time, these days were an absolute feast for a kid loving airplanes: just on the german side of the border, we were surrounded by airbases (Bitburg, Spangdalehm/Ramstein, Bade-solingen, Zweibrücken …to name just a few), and when the weather was “flyable”, you just went in the garden and waited: there was always “something interesting” to be seen in flight, plus there was no altitude limitation in those days, and some guys - mostly the canadians CF-104s flew really, really low…
    And as a passenger, I flew in the 707, 727 (I always had a “soft spot” for the “three holer”) 747 and 777, which is still my favorite today (as passenger).

    Rgds
     
  22. solofast

    solofast Formula 3

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    I was working at RR and was pitching the A/F on B-52 re-engine efforts and that was going on even in the late 90's and into 2000 IIRC. The pushback was always "well, these things aren't going to be around long enough to make it worthwhile"... Big fan engines would have significantly increased range and reduced the frequency of refueling. At the time there were (and probably still are) issues with tanker availability in a wartime scenario so if you could reduce the demand for refueling it made life a lot easier.

    Same thing for the KC-135 which they did some aircraft with the CFM 56 eventually. There was the same pushback on that program too, not going to be in the inventory long enough to make it worthwhile.. Our comeback to that pushback was that "nothing gets done when you plan it and in most cases it takes a lot longer than you think to get a major buy like that done"...

    Now it looks like both of those airframes will be flying for a lot longer than they thought they would be 15 years ago, so we were right, but it still didn't sell any more engines...

    One thing that you have to consider is that utilization rates for aircraft like tankers and bombers are a lot lower than airline rates. That is, an engine that lasts 10 years in a airliner pretty much without major maintenance would probably last for 40 or 50 years with just training and an occasional high sortie rate for some "military action" like we saw in the middle east. Since engine maintenance isn't a major cost driver, it's hard to get the military to re-engine an aircraft since money for fuel comes out of one pocket (operations) and money for purchasing stuff comes out of another pocket (procurement)..

    Those two streams of money are NEVER mixed. You can't say "you are going to save xyz $ in fuel and you will have an overall savings buy buying this new (insert - engine, airframe, or any other widget). Silly and stupid, but it just doesn't work that way.
     
  23. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Jim- The B-1B and B-52H both work fine as a stand-off weapons delivery platform. Both have been upgraded, or are in the process of being upgraded, to the latest 1760 bus configuration compatible with the SDB and SDBII weapons. SDBII, with extended range, just went into LRIP. The B-1B has first generation stealth so has some advantages against an IADS depending on range of the stand-off weapons being employed, especially if the Chinese put interceptors in the South China Sea. Neither is considered capable of penetrating a modern IADS, even with their very powerful ECM suites. Ranges are similar, but the B-1B has an advantage in cruise speed and dash speed, the latter of which has limited utility in a high threat arena. Both tend to be tanker dependent, but so is everything else we fly, including the C-17. So pick your poison. The B-1B has been used extensively in the CAS role, unbelievably, and has proven very capable in that role. Once the weapons busses on the B-52H are upgraded, it will be able to do the same job. But it is a flying radar reflector. The TFR on our F-111D actually flew us over a B-52 on a low level route in New Mexico. Pretty big radar cross-section.
     
  24. jcurry

    jcurry F1 World Champ
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    #21 jcurry, Dec 8, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    They could always get rid of that enormous tail. We know they don't really need it.;)

    How low was the B-52?
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
     
  25. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
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    The B-52 was probably at about 400' AGL and we were at 400' on the TFR. The TFR just thought it was another piece of terrain and flew us smoothly over her. We saw her coming from quite a ways out. Luckily, the EWO did not jam our LARA or TFR or we would have gotten a fly-up. No real sweat then, either, because it was day VFR.
     
  26. Gatorrari

    Gatorrari F1 World Champ
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    #23 Gatorrari, Dec 8, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
  27. Tcar

    Tcar F1 Rookie


    They have to use the rear bogies for stability when they jettison the tail, though. :)

    That plane flew all the way from New Mexico area to the southeast US like that by the way. Made it all the way home.
     
  28. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
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    As I remember, they used asymmetric thrust and spoilers and it worked just fine.
     

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