Albuquerque’s very own Boeing B-52B Stratofortress, one of only a few B-models left in existence and one of only four in the world on display for public viewing, will be the focus of a special initiative within “Operation Preservation” – a two-year campaign to repaint and refurbish the iconic aircraft in the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History’s 9-acre outdoor exhibit area, Heritage Park.
The B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. Built by Boeing – with a wingspan of 185 ft and a maximum takeoff weight of 488,000 lbs – B-52 airplanes have been operated by the United States Air Forces since the 1950s and the more recent models are expected to serve continuously into the future. The B-52B – the type of aircraft located at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History – was the first truly operational version of the Stratofortress that featured an enhanced reconnaissance capability and was fitted with a bombing/navigation system, and they remained in service into the mid-1960s when they were traded in for more modern B-52s.
“Our B-52 at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History is truly Albuquerque’s airplane,” said Jim Walther, Museum Director. “This airplane was delivered directly from Boeing to Kirtland in 1955, and it was never assigned to another Air Force base in all its existence.”
The Museum’s B-52B Stratofortress was used for atomic testing in the Pacific during Operation Redwing, 1956, and Operation Dominic, 1962. It remains the only B-52 in existence that has dropped an atomic bomb - dropped during testing. When the Limited Nuclear Test Ban treaty was signed in 1963, Albuquerque’s B-52B, serial number 52-0013, was removed from the roster and was later delivered to the Museum, formerly known as the National Atomic Museum, in 1971.
Restoration of the B-52B Stratofortress is scheduled to begin in April of 2016 under the supervision of Major Jerry Hanks, Project Manager, with help from Museum staff and volunteers and will be funded by a multi-program effort to engage supporters and entities with personal ties to the Museum and the historic aircraft. Restoration will include the B-52B receiving bodywork and a new coat of primer and paint. The total B-52B restoration cost is expected to be approximately $120,000. Completion of this outdoor exhibit for visitor viewing will take place in November 2016.
“This particular aircraft represents Cold Warriors, the extensive work of Sandia National Labs, Kirtland Air Force Base and Albuquerque in general,” said Walther. “And we plan to restore it to its former glory as a proud and honorable reminder of all those efforts.”
The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History will host "Eureka: Simple Machines & Physics Edition" on February 19 for Presidents Day. In this one-day break from school, students 6-12 years old will build super structures using their own creativity, basic design principles and simple machines. They will also learn about the properties of building shapes and materials through hands-on experimentation.Learn More
On Saturday, February 10, from 10 am to 3 pm, the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History will welcome families and Scouts for a day of engineering fun! Visitors will experience the finest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). All activities are kid-friendly, completely interactive and designed to spark interest in the scientific fields of science and engineering.Learn More
The Einstein Gala is New Mexico’s biggest science party of the year! This prestigious black-tie event is the Museum’s most important fundraising event and features a cocktail reception with an amazing silent auction filled with the most unique items in Albuquerque, a delicious dinner experience among some of the most brilliant minds in science and history and thrilling entertainment featuring science experiments that will knock your socks off!Learn More