Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What the BUFF?

   B-52 after takeoff from Barksdale AFB                                     USAF Photo

Stepping out of my comfort zone with today's trivia topic.  Normally I leave the USAF related items to the more regular bloggers-in-residence, but I really like the B-52 Stratofortress, affectionately known as the "BUFF or Big Ugly Fat F***."  Maybe I'm missing the last two asterisks, but you get the point.  Any aircraft that is considered so unbecoming that its nickname combines a vulgarity with the word ugly, deserves a little attention from us here on The Chant.   After all, it's not like my own aircraft, the venerable S-3B Viking was winning any beauty contests when it was around- and the Buff still is.  There's even a joke about how uncool the Hoover was-
 "Q: Why are the windows in the S-3 tinted?  A: So your friends can't see you in it."  
I also really like the A-7 Corsair II, which had a similar moniker- SLUF, with slow and little taking the place of big and fat.

USS Midway Museum
So maybe I've just got a soft spot for ugly things, and planes that don't get as much respect and attention as the more sexy jets like my co-workers here flew and fixed.  So today's trivia is all about the BUFF.  And considering that it's pretty much a senior citizen, we should be respectful of our elders.  Although, Juvat and Sarge are my elders as well!

1.  Speaking of old people, who was President of the USA when  the B-52 went into production?
a. John F. Kennedy
b. Harry S. Truman
c. Dwight D. Eisenhower
d. Lyndon B. Johnson

Too easy- If you guessed the guy from Independence Missouri, you're correct, but Ike was elected in a landslide over Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson in the same year, 1952, after Truman chose not to seek re-election.

2.  So what happened in this picture?

a.  The tail was shot off during a training event over Nellis AFB in 1962 while the aircraft was towing a banner for fighter aircraft gun training.

b.  During patrol along the DMZ in 1956 after the Korean War, the norks fired a surface to air missile a the jet, destroying the vertical stabilizer, but no further damage was incurred and the crew landed safely.

c. This B-52 was configured as a testbed to investigate structural failures and in 1964, flew through severe turbulence, tearing off the vertical stabilizer.

d. The jet was struck by lightning after launching from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana.

3.  True or false, a B-52 Tail-Gunner shot down a MiG during the Cold War.


 4.  Which weapon system launched from Navy aircraft was also in the arsenal of the B-52?


a. CBU-97 Cluster Munition

b. AGM-154 Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-Off Missile 


c. AGM-129 ACM

d. AGM-84 Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile

5.   True or False, the B-52 helped set the record for the fastest manned powered aircraft flight, at 6.72 Mach.

BUFF launching from Nellis AFB                                                             Source

6.  How many total B-52s were built?

a. 744
b. 962
c. 1134
d. 912

7. True or False, in 2013 the USAF had a young Captain become the first fourth generation B-52 Pilot (from the same family).

And you thought A-10 Pilots were bad-asses.
8. When did the last B-52 to come off the assembly line?

a. 1972
b. 1968
c. 1966
d. 1962

Probably in Minot.  "Why not Minot" as Sarge once asked?  This picture pretty much answers that question for me.
 9.   During Operation Desert Storm, B-52s delivered what percentage of the weapons dropped by coalition forces?

a. 20%
b. 30%
c. 40%
d. 66%
USAF Photo 
10.  Which of the following operations during Vietnam did not have B-52 participation?

a. Frequent Wind
b. Arc Light
c. Linebacker II
d. Linebacker 1

11, What mission for the US Navy does the B-52 perform almost solely by itself?

a.  Anti-Surface Warfare (Anti-Ship)
b. Softening hardened landing zones for Amphibious Warfare
c. Mine Warfare (Mine Laying)
d. Close-Air Support for Amphibious Landings

12.  The Buff had the same avionics computer as another famous aircraft.  What aircraft was it?

Ok, that's all I have for my first post in several weeks.  I hope it tides you over for a while, since I have no idea when I'll be back.  Fortunately, in my status as an independent contractor here, nobody bats an eye.


1. Truman

2. c. Turbulence

3. True.  It happened in 1972 over Vietnam.  It was the last recorded bomber-gunner to get a kill on a MiG.

4. b and d - JSOW and Harpoon

X-15 Launch                      RocketRelics.com

5. True.  A B-52A was used to carry the North American X-15 which set the record.

6. a. 744 were built, but less than 80 are still in active service.

Cpt. David "Swoop" Welch along with his father and grandfather  Source
7.  False, but close.  Captain Welch became the first 3rd Generation BUFF Pilot.

8. d. 1962, so the youngest BUFF is probably 53 years old.

9. c. 40%
Hypersonic RamJet on the wing of a B-52        Source

10.  Frequent Wind had no mission for the BUFF as it was the evacuation of refugees from South Vietnam.

11. c.  Mine Warfare is essentially a large area bombing mission and the Buff can hold a few more mines than an F-18.

12.  The Space Shuttle



  1. #13 Who were the most popular folks in a UPT class?

    -The ones who volunteered for the BUFF. We had 2. They sucked up the BUFFs for our class and the one after. AFAIK they NEVER bought drinks on Friday.

    Great Post, Tuna.

    1. I was the most popular guy in my RAG class as I was willing to go to Japan. Needless to say, I had plenty of help from my classmates to ensure my grades were good enough to go there. Now, some pilots fight to be in CVW-5 as they tend to get the most flight time since they never stand down.

  2. Wow, I actually got most of those. You trickster you.

    I love that movie!

  3. Must excellent post about a most excellent aircraft. And as for #2, that B-52 flew for a long time that day after losing that tail because the Boeing people had to calculate whether or not it could land safely. Finally they decided that it theoretically could, and it did. But talk about a LONG pucker flight.

  4. Fortunately, I was on the other side of Minot. With the 5th Fighter, working the midnight shift on the flight line. Deepest snow I ever saw. Sure its not Mountain home, they had some there also.

  5. Perhaps a post on ugly helicopters?Start with a CH-54?

    1. Watch it, watch it! As the saying goes "when you're hanging in your parachute harness while dangleing over Haiphong harbor and watching the PAVN coastal patrol boats heading your way, explain that 'ugly helicopter' thing again." regards, Alemaster

    2. At that point, and only that point, it IS a beautiful craft. Fortunately, I've never had the opportunity to view it in that light.

    3. Don't know about that Juvat as those two T-38 IPs who had to "step out" over the DEP, New Berlin, TX, weren't too unhappy to see ol' Alemaster's Huey waiting for them either. Seems everyone at RAFB knew New Berlin was the DEP but none of the good citizens knew they were targeted by AETC. That changed the day after the aforemention "adventure." regards, Alemaster

  6. When I was 6 - that would be 1956 - I had a little book for kids of all the military's airplanes. Well, a lot of them. I wanted to be a B-52 pilot (I think fighter pilot was #1 but I digress)

    So fast forward 59 years later and who woulda thunk BUFF would still be around?

    BTW this was the first of Tuna's tests where I got more right than wrong.

    1. These are open book (and I don't grade them anyway) so you're still on track for an "A" at the end of the semester.

  7. Once again I find out that I don't know as much as I thought about an aircraft. Only got 7 out of 12!!
    But as usual, another good history lesson.

  8. The Father of my roommate in college was a Capt who flew for Delta. He died of a heart attack during my freshman year and his son wanted to follow in his footsteps @ Delta, so Chose Buffs at UPT @ Reese AFB in Lubbock (talk about a country-club tng assignment!) He spent his entire stint in the USAF at HQ 2nd AF at Barksdale in Shreveport as Head of B-52 Wing Stan-Eval, then got out, was hired by Eastern, then promptly laid off when it went bankrupt. Ended up selling shoes for a time in Atlanta (presaging Al Bundy) "Don't EVER take a horrible, miserable job like this! I'm losing my mind!" he said when I asked him how it was going. LOL! He eventually got hired by American..

  9. PS: He couldn't be hired by Delta as his sister already worked for them as a Stewardii and Delta then had a "no two from same family" hiring rule.


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