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The B-52 engine fiasco

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posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 02:21 PM
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Very interesting Op/Ed on Aviation Week today. The original decision to put new engines on the B-52 was first put forward in 1982, after the RB211, and PW2000 entered service. Pratt&Whitney did a study that showed a B-52 with new engines could fly farther, with less tanker support.

But that is when one bad decision after another started.

In 1982 the Air Force expected to replace the entire B-52 fleet by 2000, with the B-1, and B-2s. By the 1990s, the B-1 no longer carried cruise missiles, and the B-2 was cut to 21. Rolls Royce offered a lease program for RB211s, but among other things legal issues tanked that deal.

A report released in 2004, showed that the Air Force made a simple mistake in calculating savings and the repayment period for the deal. When they calculated the fuel cost, they calculated ground fuel costs, and left out that fuel pumped through a KC-135 into the B-52 was 15 times more expensive.

Now they have the problem that not only does no one make the TF33 anymore, there's nothing that even LOOKS like the TF33 anymore. The latest proposal, that makes a hell of a lot of sense, which means that it probably won't go anywhere, is that GE is offering to replace the TF33s with 8 CF34-10s.

Next on the list are the C-17 and E-3. It'll be interesting to see if they get those right.


The U.S. Air Force is taking a serious look at reengining the Boeing B-52. The question is not whether it makes sense, but why it hasn’t been done. The answers include poor planning, budgetary procedures that defied economic logic and at least one bone-headed accounting error.

Putting new engines on the Buff, or Big Ugly Fat (cough) Fella, became a possibility after 1978, when the commercial business launched two modern powerplants that would fit a four-engine Buff: the Rolls-Royce RB.211-535 and Pratt & Whitney PW2000. Pratt published a study in early 1982 that showed the reengined airplane would fly farther and need less tanker support.

But in 1982 the Air Force expected to replace all of its bombers, well before 2000, with 100 B-1Bs and 132 Advanced Technology Bombers (ATB); and gas was cheap. The idea went nowhere.

aviationweek.com...




posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 02:28 PM
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Those old Buffs will be flying till they disintegrate.....there is hardly a record of longer more faithfull service in the annals of air history I imagine.....im pushing seventy and they've been around since the 60s .....I remember them over N Vietnam.....but they were around before that.....
New engines may just shake the wings right off those old ladies.....



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 02:30 PM
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a reply to: stirling

To give an idea of how well they've held up, since they rolled off the line in Wichita, the Navy has introduced and retired 2 Destroyer classes, and 4 Cruiser classes. They're scheduled to be retired between 2040 and 2050.



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 02:32 PM
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Funny how people bitch about the cost of military hardware but wouldn't think about driving the same car for fifty years.



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 02:33 PM
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a reply to: Hoosierdaddy71

Many of the frontline aircraft in the US inventory are now older than the pilots flying them. The B-52 is one of the only military aircraft in current history (that I'm aware of) to have three generations of the same family fly it.
edit on 10/27/2014 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 02:37 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

When my dad was in Korea in 53, he was given rations that were packaged in ww2.
But so was his Sherman tank...lol



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 02:46 PM
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a reply to: Hoosierdaddy71

My father had a B-52 at Castle AFB that was used for pilot training. They had to fly one mission without trimming the aircraft, which meant they had to use manual input to fly it. What they DIDN'T tell the pilots, was that the back was bent. Which meant that you had to have constant rudder input to fly straight.

He said after that flight, the student pilot always got out rubbing their back. One day, the student gave the instructor a plaintive look, and says, "Sir? Do they all fly like that?"



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 03:02 PM
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here in the UK we can rebuild a ww2 spitfire engine down to the smallest inch so surely if you want an engine to fit then there should be the design patterns available for someone to build what you want?



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 03:20 PM
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I think an engine refit would require some upgrades .....the redesign work would amount to nearly the same trouble-expense as making the old model engine again....
new materials, better performance and todays requirements may make it almost mandatory for a task based redesign of some kind.....



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 03:29 PM
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a reply to: Maxatoria

a reply to: stirling

The problem isn't the engines, it's the strain that it puts on the wing. They wanted to put four engines on, using RB211s, but the stress would have caused cracking. The TF33 has 17,000 lbs of thrust each, for a total of 136,000 lbs of thrust. The RB211-535C has 37,400 lbs of thrust, for a total of 149,600 lbs. That's a lot more stress to put on the wing of a 60 year old aircraft.

The best plan to date is GE's. They want to put engines that are rated at between 1,000 and 3,000 lbs more thrust, and is actually slightly lighter than the TF33 engine, for 2/3rds the fuel burn.



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 03:44 PM
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a reply to: Hoosierdaddy71

Well that's just the thing, I would think I had been ripped off if I did not get half a century out of something made of metal! That's why I hate that I was born too late to pick up a real car. It's all plastics and computers now, and despite being a child of the electronic age to a degree, I cannot get on with all that malarkey very well in driving terms. They should have stopped at the power steering and air assisted brakes in my opinion. All the other bloody stupid nonsense that goes onto cars these days and breaks, puts me right off ever buying one new, even if I do win the lottery!

I am twenty nine, and a curmudgeon already though, so perhaps one should take my comments with the smallest dusting of salt?


Regards the B52 and all wartech which is still capable of performing a task to which it is set:

I say everything that is not broken, should be used until it is broken.
edit on 27-10-2014 by TrueBrit because: Added detail.



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 03:45 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58
Doesn't the CF34-10 have a much larger diameter over the TF-33?

I guess RCS probably doesn't matter so much when you already look like a flying barn door on radar.

Is the RB211 still on the table? Thought they were end-of-life ...

Makes total sense, really - there comes a point where in technology where it's far more expensive to maintain old technology than just to buy new commodity parts.



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 03:53 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

You beat me to it, I was a Buff Crew chief 97-2001, word we got was the cracks that are already in the airframe wouldn't be able to handle the stress of the newer engines.

Those planes have cracks in the fuselage that can only be seen with an X-ray, and its the wear and tear on the frame that prevented the newer engines... least that's the line we were fed.

Still love that plane..



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 05:24 PM
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a reply to: squittles

The TF33 (JT3D) has a max diameter of just over 54 inches. The CF34-10, has a max diameter of 57 inches. The -10A has a thrust rating of 17, 640 and the -10E has a thrust rating of 20, 360. So if they go with the -10A, the thrust rating is almost identical, for an engine that's barely larger, slightly lighter, and is much more efficient.



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 05:25 PM
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a reply to: Irishhaf

My father started his career on those beasts. I always loved dealing with them. They are workhorses. But if you walk on the back of them, you can feel the skin crinkle under your feet, and the ones that are bent, you can see the twists in them looking straight down the back of them. They're going to last forever, but they're showing some wrinkles.



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 07:56 PM
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that air frame could out live me, problem is they need to start manufacturing the guts of it again.. they might have since I left but the standard was to strip the bone yard planes for anything that was needed..

It worked because things hard broke so rarely.



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 08:16 PM
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a reply to: Irishhaf

I can count on one hand the number of times that we had one break when going through, and even then it was usually a couple hour delay. I think twice we had a 24 hour slip because of parts, but that was it. That bird is a beast.



posted on Oct, 28 2014 @ 08:49 AM
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Look here, what are the odds that after calculating the costs of doing things
right and accounting for overrun, they'll just have some
solution readily available that no one openly knew about before that will be
better for combat, more technologically sophisticated, and at least in line with estimated costs?



posted on Oct, 28 2014 @ 10:26 AM
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a reply to: cmdrkeenkid

The GE solution would be amazingly perfect for an engine upgrade. Less stress on the airframe than other engines, a one for one replacement, good cost of the engines, more thrust, etc. I doubt it will go anywhere, because it DOES make a lot of sense, but that's the route I'd go.



posted on Mar, 14 2017 @ 09:55 AM
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