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The type was retired in the early s, after 3, had been built. A few were used as flying television transmitters by the Stratovision company.

"FIFI" Boeing B-29 Superfortress. American Air Power 1939-1945.

The B was the progenitor of a series of Boeing-built bombers, transports, tankers, reconnaissance aircraft and trainers. The re-engined B Superfortress became the first aircraft to fly around the world non-stop , during a hour flight in The Boeing C Stratofreighter airlifter, first flown in , was followed in by its commercial airliner variant, the Boeing Model Stratocruiser. The Soviet Union produced an unlicensed reverse-engineered copy, the Tupolev Tu Dozens of Bs remain as static displays but only two, Fifi and Doc , still fly.

In the runup to World War II, the United States Army Air Corps concluded that the Boeing B Flying Fortress, which would be the United States' primary strategic bomber of the war, would be inadequate for the Pacific Theater , which required a bomber that could carry a larger payload more than 3, miles.

In response, Boeing began work on pressurized long-range bombers in Boeing's design study for the Model was a pressurized derivative of the Boeing B Flying Fortress with nosewheel undercarriage. Although the Air Corps did not have money to pursue the design, Boeing continued development with its own funds as a private venture. Arnold to produce a new bomber in large numbers to counter the Nazi production. Boeing's previous private venture studies formed the starting point for its response to this specification.

Consolidated continued to work on its Model 33 as it was seen by the Air Corps as a backup in case of problems with Boeing's design. The need for pressurization in the cockpit area also led to the B being one of very few American combat aircraft of World War II to have a stepless cockpit design, without a separate windscreen for the pilots.

Horrific WWII Statistics

Manufacturing the B was a complex task. The second prototype, which, unlike the unarmed first, was fitted with a Sperry defensive armament system using remote-controlled gun turrets sighted by periscopes, [21] first flew on 30 December , this flight being terminated due to a serious engine fire. On 18 February , the second prototype, flying out of Boeing Field in Seattle, experienced an engine fire and crashed. AAF-contracted modification centers and its own air depot system struggled to handle the scope of the requirements.

Some facilities lacked hangars capable of housing the giant B, requiring outdoor work in freezing cold weather, further delaying necessary modification.

By the end of , although almost aircraft had been delivered, only 15 were airworthy. This resulted in aircraft being modified in the five weeks between 10 March and 15 April The most common cause of maintenance headaches and catastrophic failures were the engines.

Interim measures included cuffs placed on propeller blades to divert a greater flow of cooling air into the intakes which had baffles installed to direct a stream of air onto the exhaust valves. Oil flow to the valves was also increased, asbestos baffles installed around rubber push rod fittings to prevent oil loss, thorough pre-flight inspections made to detect unseated valves, and frequent replacement of the uppermost five cylinders every 25 hours of engine time and the entire engines every 75 hours.

Pilots, including the present day pilots of the Commemorative Air Force 's Fifi , one of the last two remaining flying Bs, describe flight after takeoff as being an urgent struggle for airspeed generally, flight after takeoff should consist of striving for altitude. Radial engines need airflow to keep them cool, and failure to get up to speed as soon as possible could result in an engine failure and risk of fire.

One useful technique was to check the magnetos while already on takeoff roll rather than during a conventional static engine-runup before takeoff. This was its best defense, because Japanese fighters could barely reach that altitude, and few could catch the B even if they did attain that altitude. Only the heaviest of anti-aircraft weapons could reach it, and since the Axis forces did not have proximity fuzes , hitting or damaging the aircraft from the ground in combat proved difficult.

The General Electric Central Fire Control system on the B directed four remotely controlled turrets armed with two. There were five interconnected sighting stations located in the nose and tail positions and three Plexiglas blisters in the central fuselage.

B-29 Superfortress part 1

The computers also allowed a single gunner to operate two or more turrets including tail guns simultaneously. The gunner in the upper position acted as fire control officer, managing the distribution of turrets among the other gunners during combat. In early Major General Curtis Lemay , commander of XXI Bomber Command —the Marianas-based Bequipped bombing force—ordered most of the defensive armament and remote-controlled sighting equipment removed from the Bs under his command. The affected aircraft had the same reduced defensive firepower as the nuclear weapons-delivery intended Silverplate B airframes, and could carry greater fuel and bomb loads as a result of the change.

The lighter defensive armament was made possible by a change in mission from high-altitude, daylight bombing with high explosive bombs to low-altitude night raids using incendiary bombs. The crew would enjoy, for the first time in a bomber, full-pressurization comfort. This first-ever cabin pressure system for an Allied production bomber was developed for the B by Garrett AiResearch. The solution was to have bomb bays that were not pressurized, and a long tunnel joining the forward and rear crew compartments.

Crews could use the tunnel if necessary to crawl from one pressurized compartment to the other. In September , the Army Air Forces plans for war against Germany and Japan proposed basing the B in Egypt for operations against Germany as British airbases were likely to be overcrowded. By the end of , however, plans had changed, partly due to production delays, and the B was dedicated to the Pacific Theater. Roosevelt as a promise to China, called Operation Matterhorn , deployed the B units to attack Japan from four forward bases in southern China , with five main bases in India , and to attack other targets in the region from China and India as needed.

This was an extremely costly scheme, as there was no overland connection available between India and China, and all supplies had to be flown over the Himalayas , either by transport aircraft or by the Bs themselves, with some aircraft being stripped of armor and guns and used to deliver fuel. Bs started to arrive in India in early April The first B combat mission was flown on 5 June , with 77 out of 98 Bs launched from India bombing the railroad shops in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand.

Five Bs were lost during the mission, none to hostile fire. On 5 June , Bs raided Bangkok , in what is reported as a test before being deployed against the Japanese home islands. Sources do not report from where they launched, and vary as to the numbers involved—77, 98, and being claimed. Targets were Bangkok's Memorial Bridge and a major power plant. Bombs fell over two kilometres away, damaged no civilian structures, but destroyed some tram lines and destroyed both a Japanese military hospital and the Japanese secret police headquarters.

This was the first attack on Japanese islands since the Doolittle raid in April Marvin M. Japan was bombed on:. Bs were withdrawn from airfields in China by the end of January Throughout this prior period, B raids were also launched from China and India against many other targets throughout Southeast Asia , including a series of raids on Singapore and Thailand. On 2 November , 55 Bs raided Bangkok's Bang Sue marshalling yards in the largest raid of the war. One B was lost, possibly the one damaged by Flt Lt Therdsak. In addition to the logistical problems associated with operations from China, the B could only reach a limited part of Japan while flying from Chinese bases.

US forces invaded Saipan on 15 June Despite a Japanese naval counterattack which led to the Battle of the Philippine Sea and heavy fighting on land, Saipan was secured by 9 July. Naval construction battalions Seabees began at once to construct air bases suitable for the B, commencing even before the end of ground fighting.


Boeing B-29 Superfortress

Each was large enough to eventually accommodate a bomb wing consisting of four bomb groups, giving a total of Bs per airfield. The bases became the launch sites for the large B raids against Japan in the final year of the war. The first B arrived on Saipan on 12 October , and the first combat mission was launched from there on 28 October , with 14 Bs attacking the Truk atoll. The 73rd Bomb Wing launched the first mission against Japan from bases in the Marianas, on 24 November , sending Bs to attack Tokyo. The campaign of incendiary raids started with the bombardment of Kobe on 4 February , then peaked early with the most destructive bombing raid in human history even when the later Silverplate -flown nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are considered [59] on the night of 9—10 March on Tokyo.

From then on, the raids intensified, being launched regularly until the end of the war. The attacks succeeded in devastating most large Japanese cities with the exception of Kyoto and several others , and they gravely damaged Japan's war industries. Although less publicly appreciated, the mining of Japanese ports and shipping routes Operation Starvation carried out by Bs from April reduced Japan's ability to support its population and move its troops.

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Perhaps the most famous Bs were the sixty-five examples of the Silverplate series, which were modified to drop atomic bombs. They were also stripped of all guns, except for those on the tail, in order to have a lighter aircraft. Tibbets for the mission, straight off the assembly line at the Omaha plant that was to become Offutt Air Force Base.

The Silverplate bombers differed from other Bs then in service by having fuel injection and reversible props.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress Specifications

Pilot Charles Sweeney credits the reversible props for saving Bockscar after making an emergency landing on Okinawa following the Nagasaki bombing. Enola Gay is fully restored and on display at the Smithsonian's Steven F.

HOW IT WORKS: WW2 B-29 Super-Fortress

Bockscar dropped the second bomb, called Fat Man , on Nagasaki three days later. In September , a long-distance flight was undertaken for public relations purposes: Generals Barney M. Army Air Forces aircraft and the first-ever nonstop flight from Japan to Chicago. Irvine commanded another modified B, Pacusan Dreamboat , in a world-record-breaking long-distance flight from Guam to Washington, D. The use of YBBW , the so-named Hobo Queen , one of the service test aircraft flown around several British airfields in early , was part of a "disinformation" program from its mention in an American-published Sternenbanner German language propaganda leaflet from Leap Year Day in , meant to be circulated within the Reich, [65] with the intent to deceive the Germans into believing that the B would be deployed to Europe.

The aircraft were known as the Washington B. The phase out was occasioned by deliveries of the English Electric Canberra bombers. Two British Washington B. At the end of World War II, Soviet development with modern four-engined heavy bombers lagged behind the west. During and five Bs made emergency landings in Soviet territory after bombing raids on Japanese Manchuria and Japan. In accordance with Soviet neutrality in the Pacific War , the bombers were interned by the Soviets despite American requests for their return.

Rather than return the aircraft, the Soviets reverse engineered the American Bs and used them as a pattern for the Tupolev Tu Due to the damage sustained, the crew elected to divert to the Soviet Union. The aircraft crashed in the foothills of Sikhote-Alin mountain range east of Khabarovsk after the crew bailed out.

Arnold Special was damaged and forced to divert to Vladivostok in the Soviet Union. The crew was interned. The interned crews of these four Bs were allowed to escape into American-occupied Iran in January but none of the Bs was returned after Stalin ordered the Tupolev OKB to examine and copy the B, and produce a design ready for quantity production as soon as possible.

Because aluminum in the USSR was supplied in different gauges from that available in the US metric vs imperial , [68] the entire aircraft had to be extensively re-engineered. In addition, Tupolev substituted his own favored airfoil sections for those used by Boeing, with the Soviets themselves already having their own Wright R -derived 18 cylinder radial engine, the Shvetsov ASh of comparable power and displacement to the B's Duplex Cyclone radials available to power their design.

The Soviets used tail-gunner positions similar to the B in many later bombers and transports.