22 June 1962

The last of 744 Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bombers, B-52H-175-BW, 61-0040, is rolled out at the Boeing plant at Wichita, Kansas. (Boeing)
The last of 744 Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bombers, B-52H-175-BW, 61-0040, is rolled out at the Boeing plant at Wichita, Kansas. (Boeing)

22 June 1962: The last of 744 Boeing B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers, B-52H-175-BW, serial number 61-0040, was rolled out at the Boeing Military Airplane Company plant in Wichita, Kansas.

The U.S. Air Force contracted 62 B-52H Stratofortresses, serial numbers 60-0001 through 60-0062, on 6 May 1960. A second group of 40, serials 61-0001 through 61-0040, were ordered later. All were built at the Boeing Wichita plant.

The B-52H, like the B-52G, is a re-engineered aircraft, structurally different from the XB-52, YB-52, and B-52A–B-52F Stratofortress variants. It is lighter, carries more internal fuel, giving it a longer unrefueled range, and is strengthened for low-altitude flight. The shorter vertical fin is intended to prevent the losses caused by the original tall fin in turbulent air. The B-52H is equipped with quieter, more efficient turbofan engines.

Boeing B-52H-175-BW Stratofortress 61-0040 in camouflage. (U.S. Air Force)
Boeing B-52H-175-BW Stratofortress 61-0040 in camouflage, assigned to 2nd Air Force, circa 1975. (U.S. Air Force)

The B-52H was developed to carry four Douglas GAM-87 Skybolt air-launched ballistic missiles on pylons mounted under the wings, inboard of the engines. The Skybolt was armed with a 1-megaton W-59 thermonuclear warhead. The program was cancelled, however, and the North American Aviation AGM-28 Hound Dog air-launched cruise missile was used instead. (Interestingly, the Hound Dog’s Pratt & Whitney J52-P-3 turbojet engine could be used to supplement the B-52’s takeoff thrust, and then refueled from the bomber’s tanks before being air-launched.)

he B-52H is a sub-sonic, swept wing, long-range strategic bomber. It was originally operated by a crew of six: two pilots, a navigator and a radar navigator, an electronic warfare officer, and a gunner. (The gunner was eliminated after 1991). The airplane is 159 feet, 4 inches (48.565 meters) long, with a wing span of 185 feet (56.388 meters). It is 40 feet, 8 inches (12.395 meters) high to the top of the vertical fin. The B-52H uses the vertical fin developed for the B-52G, which is 22 feet, 11 inches (6.985 meters) tall. This is 7 feet, 8 inches (2.337 meters) shorter than the fin on the XB-52–B-52F aircraft, but the fin’s chord is longer. The bomber has an empty weight of 172,740 pounds (78,354 kilograms) and its Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) is 488,000 pounds (221,353 kilograms).

The most significant difference between the B-52H and the earlier Stratofortresses is the replacement of the eight Pratt & Whitney J57-series turbojet engines with eight Pratt & Whitney Turbo Wasp JT3D-2 (TF33-P-3) turbofans, which are significantly more efficient. They are quieter and don’t emit the dark smoke trails of the turbojets. The TF-33 is a two-spool axial-flow turbofan engine with 2 fan stages, a 14-stage compressor section (7-stage intermediate pressure, 7-stage high-pressure) and and a 4-stage turbine (1-stage high-pressure, 3-stage low-pressure). Each engine produces a maximum of 17,000 pounds of thrust (75.620 kilonewtons). The TF33-P-3 is 11 feet, 10 inches (3.607 meters) long, 4 feet, 5.0 inches (1.346 meters) in diameter and weighs 3,900 pounds (1,769 kilograms).

The B-52H has a cruise speed of 525 miles per hour (845 kilometers per hour). It has a maximum speed of 632 miles per hour (1,017 kilometers per hour) at 23,800 feet (7,254 meters)—0.908 Mach. The service ceiling is 47,700 feet (14,539 meters). The unrefueled range is 8,000 miles (12,875 kilometers). With inflight refueling, its range is limited only by the endurance of its crew.

 

A Boeing B-52H Stratofortress during a deterrent patrol near the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, 2016. (U.S. Air Force)
A Boeing B-52H Stratofortress during a deterrent patrol near the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, 2016. (U.S. Air Force)

The B-52H was armed with a 20mm M61A1 Vulcan six-barreled rotary cannon in a remotely-operated tail turret. The gun had a rate of fire of 4,000 rounds per minute, and had a magazine capacity of 1,242 rounds. After 1991, the gun and its radar system were removed from the bomber fleet. The flight crew was reduced to five.

The B-52H can carry a wide variety of conventional free-fall or guided bombs, land-attack or anti-ship cruise missiles, and thermonuclear bombs or cruise missiles. These can be carried both in the internal bomb bay or on underwing pylons. The bomb load is approximately 70,000 pounds (31,751 kilograms).

 

Boeing B-52H Stratofortress. (U.S. Air Force)
Boeing B-52H Stratofortress. (U.S. Air Force)

The B-52H was equipped with a General Electric M61 Vulcan 20 mm six-barreled rotary cannon (a “Gatling gun”) in a remotely-operated tail turret. The gun had a rate of fire of 4,000 rounds per minute, and had a magazine capacity of 1,242 rounds. After 1991, the gun and its radar system were removed from the bomber fleet. The flight crew was reduced to five.

The B-52H was armed with a 20 mm M61 Vulcan 6-barreled cannon in place of the four .50-caliber machine guns of the earlier variants.
The B-52H was armed with a 20 mm M61 Vulcan 6-barreled cannon in place of the four .50-caliber machine guns of the earlier variants.

102 B-52Hs were built by Boeing Wichita. Beginning in 2009, eighteen B-52H bombers were placed in climate-controlled long term storage at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. As of December 2015, fifty-eight* of the bombers remained in the active fleet of the United States Air Force and eighteen are assigned to the Air Force Reserve. In 2014, the entire fleet began a major avionics upgrade.

Recently, a B-52H-156-BW Stratofortress, 61-0007, Ghost Rider, was returned to operational status after eight years in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona. 45,000 man-hours were required to restore teh bomber.

The B-52H is expected to remain in service until 2040.

55 years after roll-out, 61-0040 is still in service with the United States Air Force, assigned to the 23rd Bomb Squadron, 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.

Boeing B-52H-175-BW Stratofortress 61-0040 parked at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam. (U.S. Air Force)
Boeing B-52H-175-BW Stratofortress 61-0040 parked at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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21 June 1972

Jean Boulet
Jean Boulet, Officier de la Légion d’honneur

21 June 1972: Aérospatiale Chief Test Pilot Jean Boulet set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Absolute World Record for helicopters by flying the first Aérospatiale SA 315 Lama, serial number 315-001, to an altitude of 12,442 meters (40,820 feet) from Aérodrome d’Istres, northwest of Marseille, France.

The SA 315B Lama was designed to perform at the very high altitudes and temperatures necessary for service with the Indian Army. It combined an Alouette II airframe with a much more powerful Turboméca Astazou IIIB turboshaft engine—derated to 550 shaft horsepower—and the rotor system, transmission and gearboxes from the larger 7-place Alouette III.

Jean Boulet in the cockpit of his SA-315B Lama, just prior to his record flight.
Jean Boulet in the cockpit of his SA 315 Lama, just prior to his record flight. (Helico-Fascination)

The record-setting helicopter was modified by removing all equipment that was not needed for the record flight attempt. Various instruments and the co-pilot and passengers seats were taken out of the cockpit, as well as the helicopter’s synchronized horizontal stabilizer and tail rotor guard. The standard fuel tank was replaced with a very small tank holding just 70 kilograms (approximately 22.7 gallons) of jet fuel. Turboméca modified the engine to increase the output shaft r.p.m. by 6%. After Jean Boulet started the turbine engine, mechanics removed the battery and starter motor to decrease the weight even further.

Final prepartaions for the altitude record attempt. Jean Boulet sits in the cockpit, wearing an oxygen mask.
Final preparations for the altitude record attempt. Jean Boulet sits in the cockpit, wearing an oxygen mask. (Helico-Fascination)

In just 12 minutes, the Lama had climbed to 11,000 meters (36,089 feet). As he approached the peak altitude, the forward indicated airspeed had to be reduced to 30 knots (34.5 miles per hour, 55.6 kilometers per hour) to prevent the advancing main rotor blade tip from reaching its Critical Mach Number in the thin air, which would have resulted in the blade stalling. At the same time, the helicopter was approaching Retreating Blade Stall.

When the helicopter could climb no higher, Boulet reduced power and decreased collective pitch. The Turboméca engine, not calibrated for the very high altitude and cold temperature, -62 °C. (-80 °F.), flamed out. With no battery and starter, a re-start was impossible. Boulet put the Lama into autorotation for his nearly eight mile descent. Entering multiple cloud layers, the Plexiglas bubble iced over. Because of the ice and clouds, the test pilot had no outside visibility. Attitude instruments had been removed to lighten the helicopter. Boulet looked up through the canopy at the light spot in the clouds created by the sun, and used that for his only visual reference until he broke out of the clouds.

Still in autorotation, the SA 315 missed touching down exactly on its takeoff point, but was close enough that FAI requirements were met.

Aérospatiale AS 315 Lama, FAI World Record Holder, 12,442 meters, in autorotation, just before touching down at at Istres, 21 June 1972
Aérospatiale SA 315 Lama, FAI World Record Holder, 12,442 meters, in autorotation, just before touching down at at Istres, 21 June 1972. (Helico-Fascination)

FAI Record File Num #753 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – current record
Region: World
Class: E (Rotorcraft)
Sub-Class: E-1b (Helicopters: take off weight 500 to 1000 kg)
Category: General
Group: 2 : turbine
Type of record: Altitude without payload
Performance: 12 442 m
Date: 1972-06-21
Course/Location: Aérodrome d’Istres (France)
Claimant Jean Boulet (FRA)
Rotorcraft: Aérospatiale SA 315 Lama
Engine: 1 Turbomeca Artouste

FAI Record File Num #754 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – current record
Region: World
Class: E (Rotorcraft)
Sub-Class: E-1 (Helicopters)
Category: General
Group: 2 : turbine
Type of record: Altitude without payload
Performance: 12 442 m
Date: 1972-06-21
Course/Location: Aérodrome d’Istres (France)
Claimant Jean Boulet (FRA)
Rotorcraft: Aérospatiale SA 315 Lama
Engine: 1 Turbomeca Artouste

FAI Record File Num #11657 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – current record
Region: World
Class: E (Rotorcraft)
Sub-Class: E-Absolute (Absolute Record of class E)
Category: Not applicable
Group: Not applicable
Type of record: Altitude
Performance: 12 442 m
Date: 1972-06-21
Course/Location: Aérodrome d’Istres (France)
Claimant Jean Boulet (FRA)
Rotorcraft: Aérospatiale SA 315 Lama
Engine: 1 Turbomeca Artouste

The SA 315B Lama is a 5-place light helicopter operated by a single pilot. The fuselage is 10.26 meters (33 feet, 8 inches) long. The three-bladed fully-articulated main rotor has a diameter of 11.02 meters (36 feet, 1.8 inches). It turns clockwise, as seen from above. (The advancing blade is on the left side of the helicopter.) Normal main rotor speed, NR, is 350–360 r.p.m. The three-bladed anti-torque rotor is 1.91 meters (6 feet, 3.2 inches) in diameter and turns clockwise, as seen from the helicopter’s left side. (The advancing blade is below the helicopter.) It turns at 2,020 r.p.m. With all rotors turning, the helicopter has an overall length of 12.92 meters (42 feet, 4.7 inches) and height of 3.09 meters (10 feet, 2 inches).

The SA 315B has an empty weight of 1,021 kilograms (2,251 pounds) and a maximum gross weight  of 4,300 pounds (1,950 kilograms), and maximum of 5,070 pounds (2,300 kilograms), with external load carried on its cargo hook.). The Lama is powered by one Turboméca Artouste IIIB turboshaft engine which produces 858 horsepower, but is derated to 563 horsepower for installation in the Lama.

The helicopter has a cruise speed 103 knots (191 kilometers per hour, 119 miles per hour) and a maximum speed of 113 knots (209 kilometers per hour, 130 miles per hour) at Sea Level. The service ceiling is 5,400 meters (17,717 feet). At 1,950 kilograms (4,300 pounds), the Lama has a hover ceiling in ground effect (HIGE) of 5,050 meters (16,565 feet) and out of ground effect (HOGE) of 4,600 meters (15,100 feet).

Aérospatiale SA-315B Lama F-BPXS, s/n 315-001, lifting an external load on its cargo hook, 1980.
Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama F-BPXS, serial number 315-001, lifting an external load on its cargo hook, 18 May 1980. (Kenneth Swartz)

After the altitude record, 315-001 was returned to the standard configuration and assigned registration F-BPXS. It crashed at Flaine, a ski resort in the French Alps, 23 February 1985.

Médaille de l'Aéronautique
Médaille de l’Aéronautique

Jean Boulet was born 16 November 1920, in Brunoy, southeast of Paris, France. He graduated from Ecole Polytechnique in 1940 and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l’aéronautique In 1942. As an officer of the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) he was sent to the United States for training as a fighter pilot, and later as a helicopter pilot. In 1947 he  joined Société nationale des constructions aéronautiques du Sud-Est (SNCASE) as an engineer and test pilot. As a test pilot he made the first flight in every helicopter produced by SNCASE, which would become Sud-Aviation and later Aérospatiale (then, Eurocopter, and now, Airbus Helicopters). He set 24 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world records for speed, distance and altitude. While flying a SE 530 Mistral fighter, 23 January 1953, he entered an unrecoverable spin and became the first French pilot to escape from an aircraft by ejection seat during an actual emergency. Médaille de l’Aéronautique. In 1972 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’honneur. He had more than 9,000 flight hours with over 8,000 hours in helicopters.

Jean Boulet died at Aix-en-Provence, 15 February 2011, at the age of 90.

Aérospatiale SA-315B Lama "On Top of the World" ( © Phillipe Fragnol)
Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama “On Top of the World” (© Phillipe Fragnol)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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21 June 1937

Amelia Earhart climbs out of the cockpit of her Lockheed Electra at Bandoeng, Java, Dutch East Indies, 21 June 1937. (Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections)

21 June 1937: Leg 23. Singapore, Straits Settlements to Bandoeng, Java, Dutch East Indies.

“From Singapore early in the morning, we headed for Java. Our course first lay over the open sea, then along the westerly shores of Sumatra, finally cutting deep across its southeast portion. In the first hour of flying we crossed the equator for the third time in our air voyage and definitely passed ‘down under’ into the nether world of Australasia. . .

“The landscapes of the southern hemisphere were beautiful to look upon. . . countless tiny islands, glowing emeralds in settings of turquoise. . . narrow ribbons of beach, separating the deeper green of their verdure from the exquisite turquoise tones that mark the surrounding shallow water, which in turn merge into darker blue as the waters deepen. . .

“After my plane had been comfortably put in its hangar and K.N.I.L.M. (a local organization, sister company to Netherlands Airline, famed K.L.M.) mechanics had begun their inspection.”Amelia Earhart

Steel drums of aviation gasoline pre-positioned for Amelia Earhart at Bandoeng, Java, Dutch East Indies. (Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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20 June 1942

Insignia, United States Army Air Forces, 1941–1947

20 June 1941: The Department of War established the United States Army Air Forces. The new organization consisted of Headquarters Army Air Forces, the newly-formed Air Force Combat Command, and the existing United States Army Air Corps. The U.S.A.A.F. was placed under the command of Major General Henry Harley (“Hap”) Arnold, Chief of the Air Forces.

At the end of 1941, the U.S. Army Air Forces had a strength of 354,161 (24,521 officers and 329,640 enlisted) and 12,297 aircraft, with 4,477 of these classified as combat aircraft. Over the next 3 years, personnel would increase to a peak of 2,411,294. The number of aircraft reached a maximum 79,908 by July 1944.

Organization chart of the U.S. Army Air Forces, March 1942.

The most advanced aircraft in the inventory of the Army Air Forces at its inception were the Boeing B-17C/D Flying Fortress heavy bomber, the North American B-25 Mitchell and Martin B-26 Marauder medium bombers, Lockheed P-38 Lighting and Curtiss Wright P-40B Warhawk fighters, and the Douglas C-39 transport.

A Boeing B-17C assigned to Wright Field in pre-war natural metal finish. (LIFE Magazine)
North American Aviation B-25A Mitchell medium bomber of the 34th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), 17th Bombardment Group (Medium), based at McChord Field, south of Tacoma, Washington, and Pendleton Army Airfiled, northwest of Pendleton, Oregon, circa 1941. (U.S. Air Force)
Prototype Martin B-26 40-1361 taxiing. (U.S. Air Force)
The Lockheed YP-38 Lightning, 39-690, 4 February 1942. (NASA)
Curtiss P-40B Warhawks at Clark Field, Philippine Islands, early December 1941.
Douglas C-39 (U.S. Air Force)

On 18 September 1947, the United States Army Air Forces was detached from the United States Army and became a separate military service, the United States Air Force.

On 21 December 1944, General Arnold was promoted to a five-star rank, General of the Army. On 7 May 1949, his rank was officially changed to General of the Air Force.

General of the Army Henry Harley Arnold, United States Army Air Forces.

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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18–20 June 1937

Valery Pavlovich Chkalov
Lieutenant Colonel Valery Pavlovich Chkalov, Hero of the Soviet Union (1904–1938)

18–20 June 1937: The number 1 prototype Tupolev ANT-25, with pilot Valery Pavlovich Chkalov, Georgy Filippovich Baydukov (co-pilot/radio/navigator) and Alexander Vasilyevich Belyakov (radio/navigator) departed Shchelkovo airfield near Moscow, Russia, at 4:04 a.m. (01:04 GMT), 18 June, and flew north along the E. 38° meridian toward the North Pole, and beyond that, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Chakalov;s ANT-25 taking off from Shchellkovo airfiled (Maksimillian B. Saukke Collection in "Tupolev: A Man and His Aircraft" by Paul Duffy and A.I. Kandalov at Page 71)
Chakalov’s Tupolev ANT-25 taking off from Shchelkovo airfield. (Maksimillian B. Saukke Collection in “Tupolev: A Man and His Aircraft” by Paul Duffy and A.I. Kandalov at Page 71)

The Tupolev ANT-25RD was an experimental very-long range airplane, built by OJSC Voronezh, intended to attempt to set distance records. It also served as a prototype long-range bomber, designated DB-1.

The ANT-25 was a single-engine low-wing monoplane, primarily of metal construction, with retractable landing gear. The wings and horizontal stabilizer were covered with corrugated sheet metal. It was flown by a crew of three. The pilot was placed directly behind the engine, followed by a crew rest area, then the navigator/radio operator’s station. The copilot flew the airplane from a small enclosed cockpit behind the navigator’s station.

The airplane was 13.00 meters (42 feet, 8 inches) long with a wingspan of 34.00 meters (111 feet, 7 inches) long  and overall height of 5.5 meters (18 feet). The very high aspect ratio wing (13:1) has an area of 87.10 square meters), because of its length, the wing used steel spars. The ANT-25 had an empty weight of 3,784 kilograms (8,342 pounds) and maximum gross weigth of 10,000 kilograms (22,046 pounds).

Mikulin M34, M34R 2,896.1-cubic-inch-displacement (46.928 liter) liquid-cooled, supercharged, Mikulin M-34R single overhead cam 60° V-12 engine, rated at 800 horsepower. Drove a three-blade propeller had a diameter of 3.9 meters through gear reduction. The pitch of the propeller blades could be adjusted prior to flight.

The ANT-25 cruise speed 165 km/h (103 miles per hour), max, 244 km/h (152 miles per hour), range 10,800 km (6,711 miles) Ceiling 7,850m (25,755 feet)

Tupolev ANT-25 URSS N025

Moscow to Pearson Airfield, Vancouver, Washington

9,130 kilometers ( miles) 63 hours, 16 minutes

88102 01.03.1934 Самолёт "АНТ-25". РИА Новости/РИА Новости
88102 01.03.1934 Самолёт “АHТ-25”. РИА Новости/РИА Новости

4:05 a.m., Moscow (01:05 GMT) Shchelkovo airfield 38°E. > North Pole>123°W San Francisco

encountered stor/propeller icing/climb 3,000m

19 June 04:15, researchers at North Pole 1 heard the airplane

over Canadian arctic climbed to 5,750m to clear clouds temps 0* O2 limited

19 June 13:50 Canadian coast/turned west/Rocky Mountains/6,100m -20*

20 June 00:40 out of O2

 L-R Belyakov, Baydukov and Chkalov
L-R Belyakov, Baydukov and Chkalov

Fly along Pacific coast

Vancouver 20 June 16:20 GT

ANT-25 N025 at Pearson Field

Headwinds used more fuel URSS national record

Pres FDR spoke w/ crew for 1+40

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