MINOT AIR FORCE BASE - June 22 is a significant day for Minot Air Force Base's B-52H Stratofortress - tail number 61-040.
Fifty years ago on this day, that B-52H rolled off the assembly line at Boeing's plant in Wichita, Kan. and has the notoriety of being the last B-52 ever built. In October 1962, the plane was delivered to the Air Force to Strategic Air Command.
A total of 744 B-52s were built in several different production versions. The B-52H was the last model built. It is the only model still in service today.
Airmen with Minot Air Force Base’s 5th Maintenance Group and currently with the 36th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron overseas, pose for a May 4 Air Force photo with the B-52 Stratofortress. This aircraft was the last B-52 to roll off the production line 50 years ago. Front, from the left are: Senior Airman Darran Woodson, instrument and flight control journeyman, and Senior Airman Dereck Mitchell, weapons loader. Back row, from the left, are: Staff Sgt. Timothy Beamesderfer, crew chief, Tech. Sgt. Roger Phelps, crew chief, section chief, and Master Sgt. Andrew Poole, lead production superintendent, crew chief.
Plane 61-040 continues to fly with the 69th Bomb Squadron, a unit of Minot AFB's 5th Bomb Wing
Currently, the plane is with the 69th squadron overseas, providing continuous bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific region, said 2nd Lt. Jose Davis, acting chief of Public Affairs at the Minot base.
Air Force Global Strike Command is promoting this year as the "Year of the B-52" in commemoration of the first flight on April 15, 1952, of the YB-52, prototype for the B-52. The B-52 has served in every combat operation since Vietnam and continues as a vital part of this nation's defense.
Over the years, Boeing has made major modifications to the B-52 fleet and expect to perform additional improvements to assure the plane will be a viable part of the U.S. bomber fleet well into the century, according to Boeing officials
To commemorate the anniversary of the last B-52 manufactured, the Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita, Kan., is planning a commemorative event June 22-24 at its facility. For more information visit (www.kansasaviationmuseum.org/).
Early this year Boeing announced it will close its Wichita facility by the end of 2013.
Future aircraft maintenance, modification and support work will be done at the Boeing facility in San Antonio, Boeing officials said. Engineering work will be done at the Boeing facility in Oklahoma City. The work on the KC-46 tanker will be performed in Puget Sound, Wash., but the 24 Kansas suppliers on the program will provide vital elements of the aircraft as originally planned.
The 69th squadron members and planes, including B-52 61-040, will return to Minot AFB in the fall, said Davis.