It’s a Hoax, a Fake, a Flim-Flam, a Humbug, a Canard, even!

So there’s an email floating around the Intertubes that purports to show a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress being transported on an aircraft carrier. The image is accompanied by the following text:

While this may look like a gag shot, it is actually a "transport of a transport" necessity. The B-52 was in Beirut, Lebanon undergoing routine fuel tank cleaning. Workmen accidentally damaged the bladder system and had to install the bladders from smaller C-130s temporarily. The plane was flown to nearby McCollough air base where it was lifted upon a barge bound for Tyre on the Mediterranean. Once there it was off-loaded onto the carrier deck for transport to Crete where the appropriate tank bladders were installed. It was then flown back to Beirut. Military cooperation in action.

Even before seeing the picture, I was skeptical – and not just because it came from the Internet (over and over and over.) There’s a lot wrong in just the text – the US has no military bases in Lebanon (in Beirut or Tyre), there is no McCollough air base as far as I can tell, I highly doubt that anyone could or would install C-130 fuel tank bladders in a B-52, etc.

An inspection of the picture yields even more evidence: the shadows are incorrect – the B-52 is lit from the upper right, while the rest of the scene is lit from a point closer to center or lower right. Then there’s the height problem – there’s no way that the (mysteriously unshadowed) F-14 would fit under the right wingtip of the B-52, nor would the F-18 fit under the nose like that, not to mention the EA-6B and the S-3 just outboard of the #4 engine. This led to the single biggest giveaway which was one of scale: according to some organization that refers to itself as the United States Navy, the width of CVN-68, the USS Nimitz, is 252 feet. As anyone (and by anyone I mean my brother Chris, who is a bubbling cauldron of B-52 trivia, among other things) will tell you, the wingspan of a B-52H is 185 feet, which means that, as pictured, the airplane is roughly 36% too big (or the ship is the same percentage too small.)

Oh, and finding the original, undoctored photo didn’t hurt either.

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7 Responses to It’s a Hoax, a Fake, a Flim-Flam, a Humbug, a Canard, even!

  1. Keith says:

    Hey Hal,I think the biggest thing (weight and wingspan) to land and take off of an aircraft carrier is the C-130F that cycled on the U.S.S. Forestall in October of 1963. Here\’s a link to a story about the event complete with videos: I\’m curious if you or anyone else knows of anything bigger making the cycle on a carrier. — Keith Thompson

  2. Hal says:

    Dear loyal reader of Coincidental Floss (Keith) -Your comments are important to us – thank you for reading! Someone will be with you momentarily. This comment may be monitored for quality assurance. I don\’t know of anything bigger than the 130 that did the tests on the Forrestal … hard to imagine anything bigger, frankly!The next biggest that I can think of was the JATO-equipped P2V3C (C for "carrier") Neptunes that were outfitted with JATOs as nuclear strike aircraft and launched (but not retrieved) on carriers. The Neptune has a wingspan of 103 feet (compared to about 130 for the C-130) which, coincidentally, is the same as the U-2, also flown from a carrier. Neptune pics: U-2 pics: – H

  3. Kevin says:

    Good call man, b-52,s are only stationed at 3 places Barksdale, Minot, and Anderson. Not on carriers or in the middle east.

  4. Greg Atkins says:

    A B-52 takes a couple of miles of runway to take off and land. No way it could be on a carrier. As a former bomber crew chief I know

    • halbryan says:

      Very true, Greg, but, to be fair, the original (thoroughly debunked) story only claimed that the airplane was transported on the carrier, not that it had flown on or was expected to fly off.

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