Incredibly, the first B-52 flew on 15 April 1952. During the Cold War Strategic Air Command's fleet of B-52s were at a moment's readiness to make a one-way trip to targets in the Soviet Union and the road to perdition, or destruction. SAC's motto was `Peace Is Our Profession' although General Curtis E. LeMay maintained they were already `at war'. The B-52 or `High Altitude Plough' and `Aluminum Overcast' symbolised America's nuclear defence posture in the Cold War with the Soviet Bloc, which became one of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Dr. Strangelove: or, How I learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb appeared in 1963, a searing black comedy featuring B-52s in the leading role. Who can ever forget Slim Pickens astride a nuclear bomb rodeo fashion as it descends from the bomb bay of a B-52!
The B-52 has been upgraded many times and has assumed several new roles. Apart from the formidable threat it provided during the `Cold war' it has played a significant part in all US overseas military operations since Vietnam. The more recent include Desert Storm in 1991, the Balkan Conflict, Afghanistan and the liberation of Iraq. The B-52 is still in service around the world and it is predicted that it will continue to do so until 2040.show more