The Boeing YB-52 was the second prototype aircraft built and was virtually identical to the XB-52. The YB-52 was initially ordered as the second XB-52, but various changes incorporated into the aircraft on the assembly line warranted a designation change. The aircraft was completed and rolled out for ground testing on March 15, 1952. The first flight of the YB-52 was one month later on April 15. The XB-52's wings had been damaged during its ground test phase, so the YB-52 was the first B-52-type to fly.
Flight testing of the YB-52 (and XB-52 starting Oct. 2, 1952) showed the aircraft to be very fast for its size. In fact, in early September 1954, the YB-52 made a speed run from the Boeing facilities in Seattle, Wash., to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, averaging nearly 625 mph.
Gen. Curtis LeMay, commander of the Strategic Air Command, was eager to get the B-52 into production; however, he was strongly opposed to the tandem seating of the pilot and copilot and essentially insisted that the flight deck be redesigned. Boeing designers did just that and changed the entire forward fuselage so the flight crew was seated side-by-side. All production B-52s beginning with the A model had the new design; only the two prototype aircraft had the B-47 style tandem canopy.
The YB-52 was eventually retired in the late 1950s to the museum. Unfortunately, the aircraft was scrapped in the mid-1960s because of a drive (non-museum) to get rid of excess military hardware. The museum currently has a B-52D on display in its Modern Flight Gallery.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: Designed for two .50-cal. machine guns in a tail turret plus 25,000 lbs. of bombs Engines: Eight Pratt & Whitney YJ57-P-3 turbojets of 8,700 lbs. thrust each Maximum speed: 610 mph Cruising speed: 525 mph Range: 7,000 miles Service ceiling: 50,000 ft. Span: 185 ft. Length: 152 ft. 8 in. Height: 48 ft. 4 in. Weight: 390,000 lbs. gross Crew: Five (Pilot, copilot, navigator, bombardier, tail gunner) Serial number: 49-231