The Nation: The Nation, Jan. 6, 1975

For 30 seconds the four giant engines roared, blasting clouds of dust into the cold desert air. Then the snow-white aircraft sped down the runway and made a graceful ascent to 10,000 ft. over Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California. When it landed 90 minutes later, its first flight test was considered nearly perfect. "It equaled our predictions in every way," said Pilot Charles Bock.

The B-1 is designed to replace the venerable B-52, which has been the U.S. Air Force's mainstay long-range bomber for nearly 20 years. Two-thirds the size of the...

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