Boeing B-29 Superfortress History
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Design of the Boeing B-29 Surperfortress began well before America’s entry into the World War Two, when the Boeing 345 was evolved to a United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) requirement of February 1940 for a ‘hemisphere defense weapon’. In August 2940 two prototypes, designated XB-29, were ordered by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), and the first one was flown on 21 September 1942. It was a much larger aeroplane than Boeing’s earlier B-17 Fortress, and was characterised by its circular-section, pressurized fuselage and remote-controlled gun turrets. Powerplant was four 2,200 hp Wright R-3350-13 Cyclone radial engines. By the time of the first flight, nearly seventeen hundred B-29s had been ordered.
The first pre-production YB-29 Superfortress flew on 26 June 1943, and squadron deliveries began in the following month to the 58th Bombardment Wing.
The first operational Boeing B-29 Surperfortress mission was carried out on 5 June 1944, and the first attack upon a target in Japan on 15 June 1944. It was during this month that the Superfortress moved to the bases in the Marianas Islands, from whence they subsequently mounted a steadily increasing bombing campaign against the Japanese homeland. Apart from the direct damage caused by this campaign, it was responsible for many Japanese aircraft from other Pacific battle fronts being for home defence duties, although comparatively few types were capable of indulging were capable of indulging in effective combat at the altitudes flown by the American Bombers.
Surperfortresses also carried out extensive minelaying in Japanese waters; a hundred and eighteen others became F-13/F-13A photo-reconnaissance aircraft. Finally, two Boeing B-29 Surperfortress bombers brought the war to its dramatic close with the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945. Each of these atomic bombs with a yield of some 20,000 tons of TNT, totally destroyed the cities instantly. Japan voted to surrender unconditionally only hours after the Nagasaki attack, but did not officially make it known to its people until 14 August.
Following the end of World War Two many of the B-29s were sent to vast storage bases to await their fate; a few were cut up for scrap, while others stayed on active duty with the US Air Force. The back bone of the Strategic Air Command’s equipment into the 1950s would be the Boeing B-29 Surperfortress until Consolidated B-36 Peacemakers and Boeing B-47 Stratofortresses became available. At that time, the remaining B-29s sent to the reclamation areas to be cut up for scrap. But a ‘small war’ in a place named Korea put a halt to the B-29s being cut up for scrap. For three long years, beginning in late June 1950, B-29s from Kadena, Okinawa, and Yokota, Japan, were again involved in a conflict in the skies of Asia, hitting targets in North Korea.
|Boeing B-29 Superfortress Specifications|
|wingspan: 141 ft, 3 in
|length: 99 ft
|height: 29 ft, 7 in
|empty: 74,500 lb
|gross: 135,000 lb
|4 × 2,200 hp Wright Cyclone R-3350 turbocharged radial engines|
|maximum speed: 358 mph
|ceiling: 31,850 ft|
|maximum range: 3,250 mi|
|12 × 0.50 in calibre machine guns|
|20,000 lb of bombs|