The B-1B Lancer is a long-range, multi mission conventional bomber used by the USAF since 1985. For over 30 years, the B-1B has been an evolving, combat proven bomber that has been at the center of a changing global battlefield. MotoArt owner Dave Hall was delighted to find one for sale in 2016. It happened to be the first one ever produced: The Leader of the Fleet. And now we have an update for 2021. Keep reading!
Earlier this year, in September 2021, Air Force Global Strike Command retired 17 B-1B bombers, leaving a fleet of 45 in active inventory to serve until the arrival of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber. The last to be retired flew to the Davis-Monthan AFB boneyard, while others went on to serve in new missions - digital mapping, museum displays, or serving as prototypes. The divestiture of the legacy bombers will allow the AFGSC to focus maintenance and manpower on maintaining the health of the current fleet. The USAF has five B-21 Raiders currently in production at Northrop Grumman’s California plant. They are expected to buy at least 100, which will begin fielding within this decade.
After the launch of the first edition series of 1,000 in 2017, the remaining sections of this B-1B had surfaced. A large section, including door hatches and instrument boards, was discovered and we quickly secured these additional sections and began planning a Second Edition.
Once the material was secured it was transported back to the MotoArt shop in Torrance, California to be upcycled into PlaneTags. The following photos show the process of extracting the material so that it can be stamped into the familiar oval shape and become PlaneTags.
The first edition B1 PlaneTags were numbered to 1,000. They quickly became a collector's favorite and eventually sold out. Over the years, many collectors and fans of the Bone requested another B-1 PlaneTag. With Homeland Security restrictions and because the B-1B is still in use, it didn't seem possible.
With the additional material found, it was possible to create a Second Edition series of 3,000. The new edition features a redesigned display card and "2nd Edition" on the face of the PlaneTags. They will be available in an array of beautiful colors on www.planetags.com beginning November 11, 2021.
The origins of the B-1B began in 1970 when Rockwell International was awarded a contract to build a bomber that could handle high efficiency cruising at both Mach 2.2 and at subsonic speeds. To meet those and other requirements, the plane, which would be known as the B-1A, was designed with variable-sweep wings.
Four prototypes were built during the 70’s before the program was cancelled in 1977. It never went into production. The B-1 program was revived in 1981 and the B-1B was assembled in Palmdale, CA using components from a fifth B-1A prototype. The maximum speed limit was dropped from Mach 2.2 to 1.2 for high altitude flying.
Other changes included increased payload capability, up to 74,000 pounds, better radar, and reduction of the radar cross section. This time, the B-1 made it to production. The first production B-1B (82-0001) flew October 18, 1984. It was crewed by Rockwell test pilot M. L. Evenson, Lt. Col L.B. Schroeder, Captain D. E. Hamilton and Major S. A. Henry. Its first flight lasted over three hours and landed at Edwards AFB, near Lancaster, CA.
Photo is in the Public Domain, Link
The B-1B was initially designed as nuclear capable. However, a treaty established between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 1990s changed this role. The first B-1B was dismantled a little over a decade after its first flight, as part of the START initiative. Remaining B-1Bs were converted from nuclear capable to conventional heavy bombers under the treaty.
START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was a treaty between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. on strategic offensive reductions, signed July 31, 1991.
This change removed the nuclear capability but the Lancer continued to fly in new capacities. B-1Bs were notably used in support of operations such as Operation Desert Fox in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Today, B-1Bs are used by U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, with expected replacement by the B-21 Raider sometime in the next decade.
Courtesy of Boeing
People often ask MotoArt owner Dave Hall about when a specific plane will be made into a PlaneTag. Most of the time, the answer is “whenever we find one”. Hall and the team always have their eye out for an interesting plane or helicopter to add to the fleet. Many times Hall gets calls from colleagues about an aircraft he might be interested in. This time in particular, the B-1B was found, of all places, on Craigslist.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect. Was this really the first B-1B ever produced?” says Hall. “But once I knew, without a doubt, what we had we were not going to let it get away.”
Hall bought the plane soon after. It was delivered to MotoArt Studios in Torrance, CA, just south of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The team began the job of dismantling it. Depending on the plane and how much of it is available, it could be used to make furniture and art, in addition to PlaneTags. In this case, there was enough material to create a limited run of one thousand. The remaining cockpit will be used for another MotoArt project.
The handmade PlaneTags were initially released in June 2017 as a very limited edition. Since then, they have become sought after by collectors and the limited run of 1,000 is expected to sell out. Be sure to grab one for your collection before they’re gone. They come attached to a collectible card that looks great on display. They also make a great looking luggage tag or keychain that is sure to catch the eye of fellow avgeeks. Check out other vintage planes for your PlaneTags collection.