B-52 Designer Dies

Holden “Bob” Withington, one of the aeronautical engineers credited with conceiving Boeing’s B-52 bomber in a hotel room in Dayton, Ohio, in October 1948, died at his home on Mercer Island, Wash., reported the New York Times. Withington died on Dec. 9 at age 94, becoming the last of the bomber’s designers to die, according to the newspaper’s obituary. Withington was born on Nov. 23, 1917, in Philadelphia, it states. He joined Boeing in 1941 after attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He played a key role in validating the design approach of using swept wings with underwing jet engines that ushered in the Boeing B-47, the B-52, and, later, the 707 commercial airliner. Withington rose in Boeing over the course of his career, retiring in 1983 as vice president for engineering. (For more on the B-52’s history, read Fifty Years of the B-52 from Air Force Magazine’s archives.) (See also Boeing’s official account of the B-52’s genesis.)