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The U.S. Air Force initially deployed the Boeing B-52 in 1955, which was designed as a nuclear-armed platform during the Cold War. The Stratofortress was used extensively in the Vietnam War, including during Operation Linebacker II in December 1972, a strike that was instrumental in bringing the Vietnamese government back into negotiations, resulting in the release of 591 U.S. prisoners of war in 1973.
The Museum’s Boeing B-52G Stratofortress 59-2584, nicknamed Midnight Express was built in 1960 and was one of only 193 G-models manufactured. It was in the first wave of Operation Linebacker II and accumulated 15,305 flight hours before its retirement. The aircraft was in service with the Strategic Air Command until it was placed on long-term loan with the Museum in 1991, where it has remained at the Restoration Center and Reserve Collection at Paine Field in Everett, Washington.