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The First B-1B: The Leader Of The Fleet

July 26, 2019

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 two years ago. It happened to be the first one ever produced: The Leader of the Fleet. Get your own B-1B PlaneTag here .


B-1B Lancer aviation photo

Photo courtesy of  usaf.mil, Public Domain, Link


The B-1B Lancer

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.


B1B cockpit photo

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.


B-1B specs

Courtesy of Boeing


82-0001: The Leader Of The Fleet

first B-1B built

By Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA Library. UCLA Library link, Fair use, Link


 Fast Facts About This Plane

  • Rolled out Sep 4 1984
  • First flight Oct 18 1984
  • Assembled using airframe parts from the planned fifth B-1A
  • Placed in flyable storage at Edwards AFB on Apr 28 1988
  • Flew 138 test missions for a total of 617 hours
  • Flown to Ellsworth AFB where it became a weapons-loading trainer on Aug 2 1988
  • Dismantled to comply with START in May 1995
  • Parts of the airframe were used for JP-8 fire propagation testing at Wright-Patterson AFB


MotoArt Gets A B1B

b-1b los angeles international airport


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.”

b1b airplane skin


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. 


b1b salvage


Vintage Airplane

b1b luggage tag

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. 

boeing luggage tag