Imagine a U.S. Air Force That Never Built the B-52 Bomber

Since 1955, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress has flown at the front lines of America’s national defense. Initially intended to deliver strategic nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union, the B-52 has kept that mission long after the USSR itself ceased to exist. Over the years, it has been assigned to other missions, including conventional strategic bombing against Vietnam, anti-shipping missions against Soviet naval forces, conventional interdiction and attrition against deployed Iraqi forces, and a multitude of different tasks during the Wars on Terror. Current projections have the B-52 outliving the B-1B, the B-2, and nearly every human who was alive during its first flight, with final retirement not coming until after 2050. The B-52 design underwent several severe design changes in its first two years, shifting from a straight wing piston-engined bomber to a swept wing jet-engined aircraft. But in December 1947 the project was very nearly cancelled due to cost overruns and concerns about the viability of its engines. Several other firms offered viable (and no so viable) alternatives, and the survival of the Stratofortress was by no means assured. But the B-60 would have struggled to adapt to the new environment posed by Soviet adoption of the SA-2 surface-to-air missile. Handling problems and enormous size would not have made it ideal for the low-altitude penetration mission that the B-52 Read More:
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