Beginning with the successful contract bid in June 1946, the B-52 design evolved from a straight-wing aircraft powered by six turboprop engines to the final prototype YB-52 with eight turbojet engines and swept wings. The B-52 took its maiden flight in April 1952. Built to carry nuclear weapons for Cold War-era deterrence missions, the B-52 Stratofortress replaced the Convair B-36. A veteran of several wars, the B-52 has dropped only conventional munitions in combat. The B-52's official name Stratofortress is rarely used in informal circumstances, and it has become common to refer to the aircraft as the BUFF.
The B-52 has been in active service with the USAF since 1955. As of 2012, 85 were in active service with nine in reserve.
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