Your Historic Aviation 5-a-day

On this day 69 years, ago a prototype of the B-52 performed the bomber’s maiden flight. Still in service today, we present five photos from the early days of the Stratofortress

The famous B-52 bomber took to the air for the first time on April 15 69 years ago, albeit in prototype form. The genesis of the B-52 Stratofortress can be traced back to a USAF requirement issued in November 1945 for a new strategic bomber. Boeing won the contract in June the following year and originally the design of the proposed aircraft featured six propeller engines. However, the USAF changed its requirement to wanting a jet bomber and this resulted in the eight-engine design.

Prototype YB-52, 49-0231, took off at 11.09am local time from Boeing Field on the outskirts of Seattle on April 15, 1952. In October that year the prototype XB-52 undertook its maiden flight. These two aircraft had a tandem cockpit while the production aircraft, starting with the B-52A, had side-by-side pilot positions.

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