The Last BUFF

Compare and contrast.

The state bird of Minnesota is the mosquito (gyuck gyuck, ya workin’ hard or hardly workin’? Oh, ja, I’m on my way up to da cabin, gooo Vikes, I think Governor Carlson is good at reachin’ across dat dere aisle, ja?).

The state bird of North Dakota for most of the past fifty years was the B52 Stratofortress, known to its crews and neighbors as the “BUFF” (Big Ugly Fat, er Felllow) or “BMF” (Big Motor Scooter).

And it was fifty years ago today that the last BUFF came off the assembly line.

It’s been the same pool of B52’s that’s been modified to meet every strategic whim – from high-level nuclear bomber,

A B52 on strategic deterrent duty in the seventies, with a pair of Hound Dog standoff nuclear missiles.

to counterinsurgency saturation-bomber over Vietnam…:

A B52D drops a load of bombs over Vietnam during "Operation Rolling Thunder"

to low-level nuclear bomber and missile launcher (as Soviet air defense made high-altitude bombing too risky)…

A B52H loaded with cruise missiles, on deterrent duty at Minot Air Force Base, May 15, 1985

, to high-level dropper of conventional precision-guided bombs

B52H over Afghanistan.

To…well, whatever is around the corner. The B52 isĀ getting refitted for duty until at least 2040 – nearly 100 years from when its design requirements were issued. It’s hard to believe that it’s likely the B52 will have been in service for 100 years by the time the last one leaves service, at this rate. And it has to be one of the bigger bargains in the history of military procurement.

3 thoughts on “The Last BUFF

  1. My brother was a boom operator on KC-135s flying out of Ellsworth and K.I. Sawyer in the ’80s. The words he gave me for the BUFF acronym were a bit different from yours, but not suitable for a family blog. I suppose you could say the meaning suggested aeronautical intercourse which, come to think of it, was pretty much what my brother did when conducting refueling in the air. Despite his rank as sergeant, he was officially the Officer in Command during refuelings, telling his pilot, the docking pilot and the other pilots in the flight exactly where he wanted them an when. He had some great photos of BUFFs and other war machines.

  2. The other interesting thing about the BUFFs, is that because they have been in service so long, we have a third generation pilots flying them! I spent the majority of my time in the USAF as a Crew Chief on D models in Guam, then on G and H models at Minot’s twin base, Grand Forks. We got a lone D model that got sent there after Vietnam ended. The majority of those D models were just taxied or towed around the ramp for the Russian spy satellites, because they had cracked wing spars from all of the bombs we used to load on them.Their last flights were to Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson where they were stripped and ultimately scrapped. I have always said that in terms of military aircraft, the BUFF, along with the C-130, are two of the greatest bargains for the U.S. taxpayer, ever! One hell of a war machine!

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