B-52D Stratofortress - "Peace is our Profession."


Today’s suggestion is for the Boeing B-52D Stratofortress with the ‘Big Belly’ modification which saw extensive service throughout the Vietnam War and the Cold War as a whole. This is a massive strategic bomber whose origins trace back to the closing months of WWII, culminating in an airframe that still flies to this day and is estimated to continue doing so until 2050 when funding is exhausted.

In the waning months of WWII, the USAAC began drawing up specifications for a bomber that would replace the B-29 - they wanted a strategic bomber that could fly farther, faster, and carry more bombs to the target area. Although Convair had already submitted their design for the B-36 Peacemaker which was put into production, with the advent of surface-to-air missiles it became clear that future bombers would need to be purely jet powered. This strategy did not last, as bomber interceptors and SAM defenses such as the S-75 Dvina (NATO: SA-2 Guideline) could even shoot down the U-2 spyplanes as was witnessed in 1960 when Francis Gary Powers was shot down observing the Soviet Union. The problem was even more complicated when war broke out between the United States and North Vietnam, as the S-75 was being supplied to NVA forces along with Mig-21 fighters which were carefully concealed by the jungle to avoid surprise attacks.

So flying higher makes you more vulnerable, you cannot fly faster than a missile, and the cruise missiles of the day are unreliable so standoff attacks are out of the question. More importantly, you don’t even know where the enemy is. The solution - fly in low and drop more bombs.

Boeing was awarded the contract to build the B-52 shortly after the end of WW2, but the project was plagued by the demands of the day. The USAAC which was reformed into the USAF and SAC kept changing the requirements for the project, and Boeing’s engineers worked feverishly to meet these demands. The original turboprop configuration was rejected for an all-jet arrangement with eight J57 engines in four dual engine pods, two under each wing. The wings were swept back dramatically to allow for higher top speeds, and the dorsal stabilizer was extended to mitigate ‘Dutch rolling’ at high speeds. When Curtiss Lemay first inspected the YB-52 testbed, he ridiculed the tandem bubble canopy and demanded a side-by-side flight deck, which was implemented on the XB-52. The B-52 could also take advantage of new aerial refueling methods, which extended its service range far beyond the original design. SAC commanders often noted that the B-52 was only limited by the will of the crew, who could rotate with relief pilots and have a nap in the cabin bunks on long missions - a much needed upgrade from the days of WW2. Finally, all B-52’s would be fitted with tail guns - the last heavy bombers of their kind to be fitted with defensive weapons. A through F models were fitted with a quad mount Browning M3 .50 caliber machine gun, while G and H models were fitted with a 20mm M61A1 Vulcan rotary cannon. All tail guns were removed from B-52’s following Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

(Author edit, 11/29/23)
For defense against air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, the B-52D was equipped with the AN/ALT-13 ECM barrage transmitter, later upgrading to ALT-15 and ALT-28 sets to increase effectiveness. The barrage transmitters were built by Hallicrafters - a not insignificant radio company during the Second World War which was acquired by Northrop in 1966. The ECM generators were installed in the bomb bay and ran to a transmitter just above the gunner station in the tail, which allowed the crew to ward off radar-guided anti-air missiles while the flares distracted infrared guided missiles.
From 1960 onward, B-52’s could also be equipped with anywhere from two to eight ADM-20 Quail - a decoy cruise missile which used a radar repeater or chaff dispensers to confuse ground operators and minimize the chance of enemies locking on to a bomber. By 1971, the Quail was no longer considered a credible decoy due to improvements in radar sophistication, and the last ADM-20 was removed from the USAF inventory in 1978.

The majority of B-52 casualties in Vietnam came from the S-75 Dvina, which could be switched from automatic radar targeting to MCLOS (Manually Controlled Line of Sight) and steered by the operator on the ground. Even when the operator did not have LOS, VPAF MiG pilots could report the B-52’s position to the ground operator, allowing them to hit the bomber even without radar lock or LOS.

Technical Specifications of B-52D Stratofortress from NMUSAF fact sheet:

Armament: Four defensive .50 cal machine guns in tail, 2-8 ADM-20 Quail decoy missiles, two AGM-28 Hound Dog cruise missiles on external pylons (1.45 MT each), four GAM-87 Skybolt Air Launched Ballistic Missiles (1 MT each), twelve AGM-69 Short Ranged Attack Missiles on underwing pylons with a further six mounted on a rotary launcher in the bomb bay (200 KT each) or 43,000 lbs of conventional or nuclear bombs mounted on underwing pylons and in the internal bomb bay.

Engines: Eight Pratt & Whitney J57’s of 12,100 lbs thrust each

Maximum speed: 638 mph (1027 km/h, 0.83 Mach)

Range: 8,338 miles (without aerial refuelling)

Service ceiling: 49,400ft (15 km)

Maximum gross weight: 450,000 lbs


Pictures courtesy of Roberta_Morgan, 5/16/18

National Museum of the United States Air Force, Southeast Asia Gallery, Dayton, Ohio.


Baugher, Joe. Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, 2000, Boeing B-52D Stratofortress.

“Boeing B-52D Stratofortress.” National Museum of the United States Air ForceTM, www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Museum-Exhibits/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/195815/boeing-b-52d-stratofortress/. Accessed 7 Nov. 2023.

Lombardi, Michael. Strategic Airpower: The History of Bombers. Boeing Press, 2014.

[Would you like to see this in-game?]
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters


While i would love to see the B-52D, in game especially in GRB. Given there previous stance on not adding the B-36 any time soon I already know there more or less not going to add this either. Not any time soon.

1 Like

Voted no, because it’s a largely defenseless aircraft which will only be used to troll tank players in ground battles, and because Gaijin intentionally treats self-defending bombers in War Thunder as a joke. It will be suicide to play this in ARB.


DUH we need this! we also need the B-47, Tu-95 and Xian H-6


Then we should let the players decide that by letting them choose to bring it out in a match or not

Its not anymore or less vulnerable to a SAM really, all jets can be immediately killed by a Pantsir depending on the map if you are looking to use any sort of guided ordinance. Theres a clear imbalance in Top Tier, either CAS dominates, or SPAA sweeps the skies immediately


I would love to see more strategic heavy bombers, but it is probably gonna be a while. Nevertheless, +1.


Being essentially defenseless, fast, and with a heavy payload, I don’t see this being practical for War Thunder. It’d either wipe maps with its insane payload or get slapped by missiles.

I think the B-36B and YB-35 are more practical American bombers to be asking for.

It would be very cool to see heavy jet bombers as AI on EC maps, though. Give interceptors with early radar missiles something to shoot at.


when did they talk about the B-36???


Awhile back either on the forums where they denied it or on a blog I don’t recall since it was one time.

1 Like

I’m on the fence with this one, as much as I’d love to have the B-52. This is mainly because of the fact that its bombload would make most other attack aircraft useless if we were to keep it from being incredible OP.

One solution could be artificially creating a ceiling of 35,000lbs for all bombers in order to keep things balanced. This is a rough estimate for an average for the highest bombload each of the nations that possessed strategic bombers (USA, UK, USSR and China), thus allowing things to remain relatively balanced.

I’d love to see this in the game, but it’s implementation, along with that of other post-WWII strategic bombers, would need to be accompanied by a complete rework of Air RB. As mentioned by others here, currently, planes such as the B-52 suffer from the extreme difficulty that comes with trying to balance them in the current game; they either level everything on the map, or get shot down in the first few minutes by a radar-guided AAM. The only way such a thing could have any sort of viability is if Air RB is changed from essentially TDM to something more strategic, such as an actually realistic air mission by one side that the other needs to put a stop to, etc.

In addition, the aircraft’s usage in Ground RB would have to be greatly limited, either by high spawnpoint cost (in my opinion, >1250 SP, half the nuke cost), payload limit, or the complete banning of such planes from the mode.


That more or less depends on the model, id assumes Gaijin would add either the B-52A, B-52B, B-52C, B-52D, or B-52H with its M61 Vulcan rotary machine gun.
The B-52A->D continued to use the 4 12.7 machine guns with a tail gunner. Eventually, the H iteration was changed to a remote-controlled M61 Vulcan. Other iterations between the D and H were defenseless in terms of armaments and not defensive measures. This includes the modern-day B-52J. However I do wonder if they will model the toilet and living quarters.

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it has more guns than the B-57A, also it’d have flares and chaff


The B57 without guns is painful to play, thanks for making my point

B52 is on my top 5 favorite planes, it would be a cool addition, not every plane should be meta yk? Sometimes you Just wanna screw up a bit in custom battles

I vote yes

I want to correct you on proper designations since doing the B52 is a designation associated with the Swedes. Ex: B17. A32, JA37. I know what you mean but it does tick my boxes off. Not your fault. Anyway have a nice day.

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Np bro

+1, the stratofortress may be difficult to use in air RB but in sim and ground would be perfect plus it’s an iconic plane and not having it in game is a shame

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I think the strategic gamemode would be fun, but keep regular air RB and have a completely new strategic battle - either air only or a combination of air, ground, and naval

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