10. February 2006 · Comments Off on More On The Buff · Categories: Military, Technology

About a week ago, I commented on the QDR’s call for a new heavy bomber. And this somehow morphed into a critique on the B-52H.

This is all wrong: The fact that the Buff does its job so well is evidence that we don’t need a new long-range manned heavy bomber.

Well, among our most eloquent participants was reader JG, whose comments seem to have been automatically blocked by the system (We’re working on that.)

But no matter: those are of such content and quality as to merit (with minor editing) a guest post. So here goes:

I didn’t mean to imply that Boeing was the first. The first fatigue tests were performed on chains and railroad axles. I too think Lockheed was the first to implement a full airframe fatigue test. The reason the B-52 program was so important to fatigue theory was the length of service and the complex loading. Perhaps some AF personnel can confirm but I believe at some point in time they had to log each flight profile. This was then used to refine the test profile to ensure actual flights were being simulated. As far as I know, no other airframe has had an ongoing fatigue test program the length of the B-52. Often fatigue tests are used only to confirm the design requirement, just like the standard test to failure of the wing. A very impressive test I might add. The B-52 testing coincided with the advent of large scale computer modeling, especially Finite Element Modeling largely for stress analysis. The push was on to do the same for fatigue, fracture mechanics and CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics). While I have no personal knowledge – I was a design engineer – I suspect it was used to verify the advances in fracture and fatigue modeling. And maybe only for Boeing’s own needs – they were very big on showing empirical data to demonstrate correlation to theoretical calculations.

Boeing wanted the commercial carriers to log flight profiles also but the carriers baulked at the paper work. Had they implemented such a program, we would have never heard about Aloha Flight 243, which was still a testament to good design practice.

You might find these interesting:

DOD Aging Aircraft Sustainment – Lockheed Martin (no mention of B-52)

P-3 (Another ageing but significant airframe)

AF review of bombers – 1995

And “Iron Maiden” is from my ageing memory. I only worked at Boeing (Seattle) for two years starting in 1969 and got laid off in the last layoff after the SST was canceled.

Even a RC model of a B-52 with eight jet engines is pretty BUFF!


This is required reading (viewing) for any Buff fan.

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