Amazing Photos of Two Wrecked B-52 Bombers Near Edwards AFB

B-52E-57-0119-abandoned-edwards-afb (All images by Noel Kerns (see Photostream); abandoned B-52 bombers near Edwards, AFB)

In this article, we get up close and personal with two mighty B-52 Stratofortress bombers, which have languished for decades in a derelict state on the edge of Rogers Dry Lake, to the south of Edwards AFB.

Night photographer Noel Kerns visited the site to capture these old Cold War relics by moonlight. And despite their appalling condition (the more intact airframe is completely gutted and riddled with holes), their faded US Air Force insignia and other markings offer an insight into their service histories before being abandoned in the Mojave Desert.

RB-52B-53-0379A-abandoned-edwards-afb (Image: Noel Kerns, reproduced with permission)

The more complete aircraft, though missing its tail fin, is an RB-52B, which was transferred to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards in 1965 for use in barrier testing. The bomber, serial number 53-0379A, was struck off charge in 1970.

Its disfigured counterpart, meanwhile, is a later production B-52E, serial number 57-0119, which was loaned to General Electric during the 1960s to test their new TF-39 engine, designed for the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy.

B-52E-57-0119-abandoned-edwards-afb-rogers-dry-lake (Image: Noel Kerns, reproduced with permission)

But with their service lives at an end, the old “Buffs” were towed to their current location to the south of Rogers Dry Lake and effectively disposed of.

Fast forward to 1991, when the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) demanded the scrapping of around 350 nuclear bombers. So when the Russians noticed two B-52s sitting to the south of Edwards, seemingly poised for action, they drew breath.

b-52-tail-edwards (Image: Noel Kerns, reproduced with permission)

Not realising the condition of the old bombers, Russia demanded that one be destroyed and left in place for 90 days – as was the standard procedure with B-52s – for the benefit of Russian and Ukrainian surveillance satellites.

An aircraft was chosen – 57-0119 was the unfortunate one – and a few lucky engineers from Edwards got to place the charges and blow her up. Read the excellent Check-Six.com for more.

b-52-wreck-edwards-afb (Image: Noel Kerns, reproduced with permission)

More than 20 years later, the wrecked and gutted shells of Edwards’ much abused B-52s lie abandoned, their massive forms a draw for photographers and aviation enthusiasts who know where to find them.

But they’re by no means the only carcasses of military aircraft past to haunt this area of the Mojave Desert. Nearby, the old Edwards photo test range is home to a number of ailing airframes. The best known, a B-58 Hustler nicknamed Snoopy on account of its modernised nose, stands just west of the wrecked B-52 bombers.

b-58-snoopy-abandoned-edwards-afb (Image: Noel Kerns, reproduced with permission)

This aircraft, serial number 55-0665, was the sixth B-58 to roll off the production line, entering service with the US Air Force in 1958. It was soon used as a test-bed for missile launch trials, its nose lengthened to accommodate the new fire control system. The aircraft’s odd appearance earned it its nickname, Snoopy.

How long these aircraft will remain in the desert remains to be seen. But after sitting quietly and relatively unnoticed for many years, it seems fair to say they’re going nowhere fast.

Related – 21 Abandoned Airplane Graveyards (Where Aviation History Goes to Die)

 
 


 
 
 

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