B-52 relic calls to aircraft buffs at Andersen AFB on Guam

It's worth the short trip on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to check out the tail section of a B-52E Stratofortress that was blown into the jungle during a super typhoon in 1976.


By SETH ROBSON | Stars and Stripes | Published: June 11, 2020

If you’re stuck on base at the home of the 36th Wing on Guam, it’s worth a short jaunt to check out the tail section of a B-52E Stratofortress that was blown into the jungle during a super typhoon in 1976.

It’s only a short walk into the trees beside Perimeter Road near Tarague Beach to reach the relic, which looks a bit like a crashed flying saucer.

When the relic was discovered in the jungle in 1997, people initially thought it was part of a famous plane known as the “Old 100,” which was displayed at the base’s Arc Light Memorial from 1974 to 1983, the sign states.

In fact, the tail is from a Grey Ghost, as aircraft with an aluminum and white anti-flash paint scheme were known on the island.

“This contrasted with the operational ARC LIGHT B-52Ds that were painted camouflage and black,” an information panel next to the relic states.

The Grey Ghosts were used as ground instruction training airframes and then for firefighting and rescue training.

The tail, which had been cut off the aircraft after it was scrapped, was blown into the jungle by Super Typhoon Pamela when it struck Guam in 1976 with 150 mph winds.

“Later the encroaching jungle concealed it until rediscovered in 1997 after Super Typhoon Paka,” the panel states.

B-52s have been flying out of Andersen Air Force Base since March 29, 1964, according to the Air Force.

During the Vietnam War, they launched from there as part of Operation Arc Light. Each was capable of carrying more than 100,000 pounds of bombs to provide air support to ground troops fighting the communists, 36th Wing historian Jeffrey Meyer wrote in an April 25, 2012, article on Andersen’s official website.

During the 1970s and 1980s, B-52s flew out of Guam during Operation Bullet Shot and Linebacker I and II.

“With 153 B-52s on the ramp, Andersen AFB became the single largest source of combat airpower the world has ever seen,” he wrote.

Since 2004, Air Force bombers such as the B-1B Lancer, B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit have been frequent visitors to Guam.

On July 21, 2008, six crewmembers of a B-52H, call sign Raider 21, died when their aircraft went down about 30 miles northwest of Guam, Meyer wrote.

“Raider 21 is one of five B-52s lost from accidents in the waters around Guam over the aircraft’s history here. Additionally, during the Vietnam War a dozen B-52s left Andersen AFB for ARC LIGHT missions and never came back,” he wrote.

Twitter@ SethRobson1

DIRECTIONS: Drive toward Tarague Beach on Perimeter Road on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. There’s a small sign advertising the B-52 relic on the roadside.

TIMES: Open at all hours

COSTS: No entry fee

The remains of a B-52E bomber at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, look like something out of a science-fiction movie.

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