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B-52B Stratofortress Restoration Project

The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History's historic B-52B Stratofortress s/n 52-0013, one of only a few B-models left in existence and one of only four in the world on display for public viewing, was the focus of a special initiative - during the spring and summer of 2016 - within “Operation Preservation," a multi-year campaign to repaint and refurbish the iconic aircraft in the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History’s nine-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 left 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 began in April of 2016 under the supervision of Major Jerry Hanks, Project Manager, with help from Museum staff and volunteers and was funded by a multi-program effort to engage supporters and entities with personal ties to the Museum and the historic aircraft. Restoration included the B-52B receiving bodywork and a new coat of primer and paint. The total B-52B restoration cost was approximately $120,000. Completion of this outdoor exhibit for visitor viewing took place in September 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 had launched an ambitious campaign through Indiegogo - a funding platform for creative projects, directly supported by individuals who pledge money - April 1 through May 1, 2016 - to purchase the paint for the restoration of the Museum's iconic B-52B Stratofortress. 

We are thrilled to announce the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History reached and surpassed our $60,000 goal through the Indiegogo campaign COMBINED with donation given directly to the Museum to fund the exterior restoration of the B-52B Stratofortress! 

In this exciting race to the finish line, 177 backers donated $28,840 through Indiegogo within a 30 day time frame, and 77 individuals donated over $38,000 through donations given directly to the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. This was an incredibly exciting time at the Museum, as our campaign to raise half the overall total to restore our B-52B proved a tremendous success, totaling over $66,000!

We are so proud of this success in raising funds for the body work, paint and primer, but we still have a number of other projects within our B-52B restoration that need help. These projects include but are not limited to signage, plaques, paving the path to the B-52B, and installing a B-53 thermonuclear weapon and restoring the Hound Dog missile. All of these additional endeavors will take time and money to complete.

We would be thrilled to receive additional support for these important initiatives, and donations will continue to be accepted through our Museum website.

Thank you to everyone who supported this incredible endeavor! 


Learn more about our B-52B Stratofortress

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