"LINEBACKER IN THE BUF(F)"

BY KEITH FERRIS

L/E of 1000. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Image size: 36" x 14 l/2"
Print size: 39 " x 18"

L/E Price: $225

— SOLD OUT —


No, it's not a football player with no uniform. Keith Ferris' searing portrait of B-52D 55-0094 is a lot more serious than that. This huge airplane is surging east from Thailand to its target in Hanoi, to deliver a payload which helped end that difficult war.

"When the North Vietnamese were delaying the peace talks in 1972," Ferris explains, "President Nixon ordered the bombing of North Vietnam to start again, and, this time they were going to use B-52s. The call sign, or code name, for that operation was Linebacker. Linebacker stopped in the summer of '72, but the North Vietnamese continued their delaying tactics, despite the talks in Paris.

"So Nixon put on Linebacker II," Ferris continues, "and Linebacker II brought the war to a stop in a hell of a hurry. During eleven days in December 1972 the B-52s penetrated the strongest air defense in the history of aerial warfare to bomb military targets in Hanoi and Haiphong. This brought North Vietnamese intransigence to an end, returned them to the bargaining table, and ultimately ended the war - bringing the P.O.W.s home."

That takes care of the Linebacker, but what about the BUF(F)? "Well, there's a lot of argument about this name," Ferris says with a knowing smile. "Crews who flew the B-52 in Southeast Asia called the aircraft BUF, which stands for Big Ugly ... well for the want of a better word, let's say Fellow. This was modified at the urging of Strategic Air Command to BUFF, meaning the more genteel Big Ugly Friendly Fellow.

"But then, while it was still being called that in Southeast Asia, the Air Force got the rescue helicopter HH-53, which was known both as the Super Jolly Green Giant, and the BUFF, which stands for Big Ugly Fat Fellow, or something like that. Then they came along with another airplane, the A-7, which they called the SLUF, for Short Little Ugly...Fellow.

"Now, as the war went on, the crews began to be confused. They didn't know whether the B-52s monikers had one F or two Fs. So Linebacker in the BUF(F) means going to war in the north with the B-52." It also means an amusing name for a most serious and impressive piece of aviation art by one artist who knew the 55-0094 well.

On November 27,1968, Keith Ferris flew a mission in the venerable old girl from U Tapao in Thailand to the Mu Gia Pass in North Vietnam. Seven hours and forty minutes later, he landed safely in Guam. Twenty-four years after that, 094 remains on display at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas.