The B-52 first flew in 1951 and entered service with the Air Force in 1955. Does the type hold a record for active service (they’re still in operational inventory and I’ve even heard of plans for a refit that will keep’em going until 2030) for a military airplane?
Also, I know the B-52H is the only model still on active duty. Those were first delivered in 1961. Does anyone know how old the oldest one still in Air Force inventory might be?
Hell, as long we’re at it, does any country besides the U. S. fly BUFFs?
I’ll have to leave this one to someone more knowledgable about BUFFs than I. But I do know where an old one is still flying. There is a “long-tail” (sorry, I don’t know the alpha identifier) B-52 that is flown out of Edwards AFB, CA. It launch(es/ed) X-planes from a pylon under the wing. It may belong to NASA, but since it says “U.S. AIR FORCE” on the side, I assume the air force still owns it, and that that means it’s still operational.
How 'bout the DC-3? Not actually military, but they did use them. Quite a few in use, I hear.
Here’s a great site to check out historical aircraft…
AFAIK, no…Long-range strategic bombers generally don’t get sold to anybody, just in case
Heh,heh…anybody else thinking of “Dr. Strangeglove”?
I, for one, am worried as hell about the mine shaft gap.
I think the DC-3 (military designations: C-47, R4D, C-117, probably some others) has to hold the record for longest service. The first military DC-3’s flew in the 1930’s, and some may still be in service. The R4D version was phased out in 1976, but there were other variants of the DC-3 around.
The DC-3 gets my vote as perhaps the greatest aircraft design ever. It was rugged, simple, could be built by untrained people to very loose tolerances, and the things simply flew forever. They’ve been used as airliners, troop transports, gunships, and they’ve even been flown off of aircraft carriers. Great airplane.
The firefight in front of the “SAC–Peace is our profession” always seemed ironic.
Also, when they’re calling out the range of the missile that hits the bomber and fries the radios…that’s a pretty slow missile.
FWIW The other X-15 program B-52 is at the Pima Air Museum in Tucson, AZ. Pima gets a lot of particularly cool and unique aircraft as it’s literally across the street from the Air Force’s AMARC boneyard.
The little info I have found describes the C-47’s military career as beginning in 1941. If finally phased out in 1976, it would have had a 35 year actiive duty life, making it currently tied with the B-52.
Lived in Tucson for a few years, and I remember seeing the B-52 at the Pima museum a few years ago, out front. I don’t remember the X-15 part, but I do recall reading some little plaque that mentioned it was used in Desert Storm for carpet-bombing.
Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, they had another stripped-down B-52 farther into the place that might be the one mentioned.
Those things are friggin’ huge. They easily dwarfed every other aircraft in that admittedly massive lot.
I live about an hour’s drive from Barksdale AFB, and go out and look at the museum every month or so. Once in Boy Scouts, we went on a tour of the base and got to go out on the flight line. I have a pic of me with one of the BUFF crews. Anyway, I’ve stood on the ground between the open bomb bay doors and looked up…that space looks big enough to park an 18-wheeler in.
Beatle: The C-47 was phased out in 1976, but other variants of the DC-3 remained in service. The trouble is that it’s hard to figure out which ones, because they were used for specialized purposes, and there were a lot of designations. 1976 was the last year of general service, but one-off specialized aircraft remained for special purposes (pulling targets for gunnery practice perhaps, or for parachute drops).
I have some interesting photos of cruise missiles inside of the BUFF during the ALCM test back in the 80s.