Historic B-52 Stratofortress to Receive Restoration

Press Release (ePRNews.com) - Albuquerque, New Mexico - Apr 04, 2016 - ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, a Smithsonian affiliated, non-profit Museum located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is restoring its B-52B Stratofortress, serial number 52-0013, one of only four B-models in the world on display for public viewing and the only B-52B left in existence that has dropped an atomic bomb – dropped during testing.

The Museum will launch an ambitious campaign through Indiegogo – a funding platform for creative projects, directly supported by individuals who pledge money – April 1 through May 1, 2016, to purchase the paint for the restoration of the Museum’s iconic B-52B Stratofortress.

“This particular aircraft represents Cold Warriors, the extensive work of Boeing, Sandia National Labs, Kirtland Air Force Base and Albuquerque in general,” said Jim Walther, Museum Director. “And we plan to restore it to its former glory as a proud and honorable reminder of all those efforts.”

Jim Walther, Museum Director

This enormous restoration initiative is a special project within Operation Preservation, an ongoing campaign to repaint and refurbish the iconic aircraft in the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History’s nine-acre outdoor exhibit area, Heritage Park. To date, the Museum has successfully restored an F-16 Fighting Falcon and the USS James K Polk Submarine Sail in 2014 and the historic B-29 Superfortress in 2015.

The Museum’s iconic B-52B has experienced the ravages of the southwestern weather, and staff, volunteers and the Board of Trustees are asking for support in paying for the surface preparation and painting of the exterior of the aircraft (a surface area of over 2/3 of an acre). By helping with this behemoth endeavor, financial support through donation will:

·       Celebrate the men and women who designed, built, maintained and flew every B-52 model since the 1950s to today’s recent models.

·       Educate all generations on the historical significance of the B-52B Stratofortress.​

·       Connect Museum visitors with an important part of America’s history and provide them with an opportunity to experience a B-52B up close.

The total B-52B restoration cost is expected to be $120,000. Approximately 1/2 of this cost will be paid by the online Indiegogo project. The money raised in this campaign will be used for the cosmetic restoration of the fuselage and wings. That is, to purchase the paint ($460) per gallon and primer ($300 per gallon), prepare the airplane’s surface and then paint the fuselage and wings. This will also include painting the “Air Force Special Weapons Center” insignia on the starboard side and the “Air Force Systems Command” on the port side.

The B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. Built by Boeing – with a wingspan of 185 ft and weighing 420,000 lbs – B-52 airplanes have been operated by the United States Air Force since the 1950s and the more recent models are expected to serve continuously into the future. 

The first B-52B  – one of only 50 ever made – was delivered to the Strategic Air Command (SAC) in June of 1955, and the B-model was the first in the B-52 series to actually serve with operational bomb wings in the Strategic Air Command. Over the years, the aircraft has proved itself in combat and peace time readiness. The B-52B – the type of aircraft located at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History – was the first truly operational version of the Stratofortress that featured an enhanced reconnaissance capability and was fitted with a bombing/navigation system, and they remained in service into the mid-1960s when they were traded in for more modern B-52s.  

On April 29, 1955, Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) received its first B-52B Stratofortress, s/n 52-0013. Major Jerome L. Blanchard accepted delivery of the aircraft at the Boeing Plant in Seattle and piloted the aircraft to KAFB. All crew members were from the 4925th Test Group.

“This particular aircraft represents Cold Warriors, the extensive work of Boeing, Sandia National Labs, Kirtland Air Force Base and Albuquerque in general,” said Jim Walther, Museum Director. “And we plan to restore it to its former glory as a proud and honorable reminder of all those efforts.”

The aircraft was among the first ten B-52Bs delivered to the Air Force. “Old 013” was assigned to the Air Force Special Weapons Center at Kirtland Air Force Base. The Museum’s B-52B conducted many drop tests of inert weapon shapes to explore weapons separation characteristics at release and to gather ballistics data.

The aircraft participated in the Redwing Cherokee test, near the Bikini Atoll.  On May 21, 1956, it became the first B-52 to drop a live nuclear device. Our B-52B  also participated in Operation Dominic which took place from April until November 1962. Operation Dominic saw the last atmospheric tests, including air drops of nuclear devices. In its years of service, B-52B, s/n 52-0013, dropped over one dozen live nuclear devices in various operations.

When the Limited Nuclear Test Ban treaty was signed in 1963, Albuquerque’s B-52B, s/n 52-0013, was removed from the roster and was later delivered to the Museum, formerly known as the National Atomic Museum, in 1971.

Restoration of the B-52B Stratofortress is scheduled to begin in April of 2016 under the supervision of Major Jerry Hanks, Project Manager, with help from Museum staff and volunteers and will be funded by a multi-program effort to engage supporters and entities with personal ties to the Museum and the historic aircraft. Completion of this outdoor exhibit for visitor viewing will take place in the Fall of 2016.

For more information about this initiative, please contact Jennifer Hayden, Director of PR & Marketing at jhayden@nuclearmuseum.org. 


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