B-52 Bombers

Specifications (B-52H):
· Length: 159 ft. 4 in. · Wingspan: 185 ft. · Height: 40 ft. 8 in. · Wing Area: 4,000 sq. ft. · Empty Weight: 185,000 lbs. · Loaded Weight: 265,000 lbs. · Crew: 5 (pilot, co-pilot, radar navigator (bombardier), navigator, and electronic warfare officer)
· Power Plant: 8 × Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3/103 turbofans · Combat Radius: 4,480 miles · Max Speed: 650 mph · Ceiling: 50,000 ft.
· Guns: 1 × 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon (remote controlled tail turret) · Bombs/Missiles: 60,000 lbs. of bombs, missiles, & mines in numerous configurations
  • The B-52 was first flown on the 15 April 1952. The pilot was Alvin 'Tex' Johnston.
  • At the rollout ceremony on 18 March 1954, it was said by Air Force Chief of Staff General Nathan Twining that 'The long rifle was the great weapon of its day...today this B-52 is the long rifle of the air age.'
  • The B-52 has been in active service with the United States Air Force since 1955.
  • The aircraft first went to war in Vietnam. Its extreme firepower worked wonders at intimidating the enemy.
  • The first B-52 mission was 'Operation Rolling Thunder'. Although successful, one B-52 had to pull out of the mission due to mechanical difficulties, and two others were destroyed when they crashed into each other.
  • After the Vietnam War, the B-52 was put on peacetime alert for almost 20 years.
  • The B-52 was the US weapon of choice in conflicts following the Cold War.
  • Strategic Air Command obtained the B-52 as a strategic nuclear weapon, and remains one of the best to this day. It is also a very deadly aircraft using only conventional weapons.
  • Its nickname among air force personnel is the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat F***er/Fellow).

Relevance to Apocolypse Now

The only B-52 aircraft seen in the film is the wreckage along the river near the bridge. The B-52 plays no other role except being just that; a dead shell of an aircraft. This could be a representation of the soldiers fighting in Vietnam; they enter the battlefield new, shiny and ready for war, only to finally wind up like the crashed B-52. They end up either dead, or an empty shell of what they once were; driven mad by the insanity of warfare.

Another way the crashed B-52 works as a technique is the 'reclaiming' of the B-52 by nature. Just like the decaying machinery in Heart of Darkness, the B-52 is like man's effort to defeat nature, and it works in certain circumstances. However, the recurring theme of the B-52 and the decaying machinery just proves that in the end, nothing mankind can do can stop the inevitability of nature's absolute victory.