The B-52 Park at Orlando’s International Airport
Ask yourself, how many times have you been through Orlando International Airport (KMCO)?
Now, how many of you have seen or visited the B-52 Memorial Park?
Next time you are heading into or out of Orlando International Airport, set 20 minutes aside to visit a unique and free attraction.
Tucked away off Bear Road and located between the end of runway 18L and the Beachline Express is a little hidden gem. Within this small park, camouflaged against the lush grass and palm trees sits a large attraction, B-52D Stratofortress 56-0687.
Established by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) on April 17, 1985, the park is dedicated to the members of the community and those who served with the Strategic Air Command (SAC) at McCoy AFB between 1957 and 1974.
The B-52D had a crew of five, including a tail gunner who was armed with four .50 caliber machine guns.
The B-52D is known as a ‘Tall Tail’ model. The B-52D was originally designed for high altitude bombing and thus the ‘Tall Tail’ was preferred for this flight profile. With conventional low level missions over Vietnam, it was found that the ‘Tall Tail’ produced too much flutter at lower altitudes and was redesigned to a smaller tail on the B-52G.
When the B-52D was assigned to service in the Vietnam war, it received what is known as ‘Big Belly’ modifications. The B-52D’s internal bomb capacity was increased from just 27 weapons to a maximum of 84 500-lb Mk 82 or 42 750 lb M117 conventional bombs. The Big Belly modifications were accomplished through the rearrangement of internal equipment. Additionally, the B-52D could carry another 24 bombs of either type on modified underwing bomb racks. These modifications brought the maximum payload to 60,000 pounds of bombs or about 22,000 pounds more than the capacity of the B-52F.
The B-52D also received what is known as the ‘Rivet Rambler’ modification. These modifications added the Phase V ECM (Electronic Counter Measure) systems which involved the fitting of one AN/ALR-18 automated set-on receiving set, one AN/ALR-20 panoramic receiver set, one AN/APR-25 radar homing and warning system, four AN/ALT-6B or AN/ALT-22 continuous wave jamming transmitters, two AN/ALT-16 barrage-jamming systems, two AN/ALT-32H and one AN/ALT-32L high- and low-band jamming sets, six AN/ALE-20 flare dispensers and eight AN/ALE-24 chaff dispensers.
Additionally, aircraft assigned to duty over Vietnam were painted with gloss black paint to the undersides, lower fuselage and both sides of the vertical fin to defeat searchlights. The remainder of the aircraft was covered in a camouflage pattern of tan and two tones of green with the aircraft series number painted in red.
Because of these upgrades and its long range capabilities, the D model was used more extensively in Vietnam than any other B-52 model.
This particular aircraft served with the 306th Bomb Group at McCoy Air Force Base in Orlando Florida until being transferred to the 7th Bomb Group at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth Texas. Orlando International Airport now sits upon the site of the former McCoy Air Force Base and its ICAO code of KMCO is a nod to McCoy AFB. B-52D 56-0687 was flown on its fini-flight to KMCO on February 20, 1984 and retired to the park.