The venerable Boeing B-52 Stratofortress flies around with up to 70,000 pounds of terrifying armaments, according to a fascinating new Smithsonian Channel video.

The B-52, first launched in 1954, can carry munitions ranging from laser-guided bombs to nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The bomber itself weighs 185,000 lbs., and when loaded with jet fuel and its deadly cargo, rolls down the tarmac at 488,000 lbs.

The B-52, considered one of the most devastating weapons in military history, can fly 8,800 miles without refueling, cruising at 50,000 feet with a top speed of 650 mph. The Stratofortress first flew in 1954, and the last new one was built in 1962.

Boeing reports that modern engineering has enabled B-52s to be safe to fly “into the 2040s,” so it won’t take much of an extension for there to be a B-52 in service a century after the planes first took to the skies.

B-52 was launched in 1954, the same year that Chevy was America’s top-selling automaker. This one’s the ’54 Bel-Air. ( Photo: Barrett-Jackson Auction Co.)


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