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Alternative History: What If There Was No B-52 Boimber?

Robert Farley

Key point: The B-52 would serve in many conflicts and the Air Force would certainly have needed another type of bomber if it didn't exist.

Since 1955, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress has flown at the front lines of America’s national defense. Initially intended to deliver strategic nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union, the B-52 has kept that mission long after the USSR itself ceased to exist.

Over the years, it has been assigned to other missions, including conventional strategic bombing against Vietnam, anti-shipping missions against Soviet naval forces, conventional interdiction and attrition against deployed Iraqi forces, and a multitude of different tasks during the Wars on Terror. Current projections have the B-52 outliving the B-1B, the B-2, and nearly every human who was alive during its first flight, with final retirement not coming until after 2050.

But what if the BUFF had not survived the procurement battles that embroiled the Air Force and the rest of the U.S. defense establishment in the 1940s?

How would the Air Force, and the broader U.S. defense establishment, have filled the hole vacated by the B-52?

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