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United States' Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber

Photos

  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber

Design

In 1940 the US Army Air Corps put out a requirement for a "hemisphere defense weapon." It was to carry 2,000 lb / 907 kg of bombs at 400 mph / 644 kph for 5,333 miles / 8,582 km. After Pearl Harbor the project was given priority.

Originally it was intended to bomb Germany from the United States.

Was first bomber to be pressurized. There was a tunnel that went over the bomb bay that connected the cabin with the rear area. Bunks were located in the rear area for the crew on long missions. There were two bomb bays that had winches to hoist the bombs.

During take-off there was a retractable bumper that helped protect the tail. The B-29 had a tricycle undercarraige.

$3 billion had been spent before the first plane flew.

  • Bomb Load and Range Comparison

Prototype

On August 24, 1940, two prototypes were ordered to be built. The XB-29 first flew on September 21, 1942. Eddie Allen flew the first prototype.

The second prototype flew on February 18, 1943, and crashed on landing after a fire started in an engine. Allen was at the controls and died with the eleven Boeing technicians on the prototype.

Production

An initial order for 500 B-29s was placed in 1941. An order for 1,000 B-29s was placed in September 1942.

The B-29s were produced at Boeing Wichita, Bell Atlantic, Martin Omaha, and Boeing in Renton. Production started in late 1943.

  • Boeing XB-29: 3
  • Boeing YB-29: 14
  • Boeing B-29: 2,513
    • Boeing Wichita: 1,620
    • Boeing Renton: 536
    • Bell: 357
  • Boeing B-29A: 1,119 at Boeing Renton
  • Boeing B-29B: 311 at Bell
  • Total: 3,960, 3,970
    • Manufacturer: Boeing Aircraft Company
  • Bomber Production Comparison

Variants

  • Boeing XB-29: Prototype.
  • Boeing YB-29: Pre-production.
  • Boeing B-29A-BN: Increased wingspan and added a forward four gun upper turret.
  • Boeing B-29B-BA: Had fewer guns which allowed for a larger bomb load.
  • Boeing B-29-45-MO: Modified to carry atomic bombs.
  • Boeing KB-29: After World War II, was first flying refueling tanker.

Usage

Pacific

In 1943 it was decided to use the B-29s only in the Pacific against the Japanese.

First use in China and India

The XX Bomber Command used the B-29s first from China and India. The B-29 equipped four groups.

The 58th Very Heavy Bombardment Wing received the first YB-29s in July 1943. B-29-BWs arrived three months later.

Bangkok Raid

On June 5, 1944 the first raid on Bangkok was conducted by four groups that had moved to India in early 1944. On June 15, 1944 the B-29s bombed the Japanese mainland.

Mariana Island Bases

B-29s started missions from the Mariana Islands in October 1944.

2nd Tokyo Raid

On November 24, 1944, B-29s attacked Tokyo for the first time since the Doolittle raid in 1942.

Low Level Raids

The bombing campaign against mainland Japan wasn't very success by attacking from high level raids. On March 9, 1945 the raids were switch to low-level incendiary raids.

Atomic Bombs

The 393rd Bomb Squadron dropped an atomic bomb ("Little Boy") on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, at 8:15 AM from the "Enola Gay." On August 9, 1945 Fat Boy was dropped on Nagasaki by the "Bockscar".

Korea

Only the F-86 Sabre shot down more enemy aircraft than the B-29.

Usage by the United Kingdom

Was called the Washington. 88 were flown by the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Usage by Russia

Three B-29s had crashed in Russian territory in 1944. The Tu-4 bomber was copied from the B-29 by the Tupolev design bureau.

End of Service

The B-29s were finally withdrawn from active service in the late 1950s.

Specifications

  Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Type Long-range strategic bomber
Heavy bomber
Crew 10-11, 10-14
Pilots (2), bombardier, navigator, flight engineer, radio operator, radar operator, central gunner, left gunner, right gunner, tail gunner
Engine (Type) 4: Wright R-3350 Cyclone 18 turbo charged piston
4: Wright R-3350-23, -51, -57 Cyclone
Cylinders Radial, Radial 18
HP 2,200 each
Propeller blades 4 each
Dimensions  
Span 141' 3"
43.05 m
Length 99', 99' 2"
30.18 m
Height 27' 9", 29' 7"
8.46 m, 9.02 m
Wing area 1,736 ft2
161.27 m2
Weight  
Empty 70,140 lb, 71,360 lb
31,815 kg, 32,370 kg
Loaded 123,999 lb, 138,000 lb
56,245 kg, 62, 597 kg
Performance  
Speed 358 mph
576 kph
Speed at 20,000' / 6,096 m 344 mph
553 kph
Maximum cruising speed 328 mph
529 kph
Range cruising 230 mph
370 kph
Climb 900'/minute
274 m/minute
Service ceiling 30,085', 31,850'
9,170 m, 9,700 m
Range 3,250 miles
5,230 km
Range with 5,000 lb 3,250 miles
5,230 km
Range with 12,000 lb 2,647 miles
4,260 km
Range with 20,000 lb / 9,080 kg 1,950 miles
3,138 km
Armament 1: 20 mm
10-12: 0.5" MG
Remotely controlled turrets 4: turrets, 2: 12.7 mm MG each
Tail turret 3: 12.7 mm MG
OR 2: 12.7 mm MG
1: 20 mm
Bombs 20,000 lb
9,072 kg
  Boeing B-29A Superfortress
Type Bomber, Heavy bomber
Crew 10
Engine (Type) 4: Wright R-3350 Cyclone
4: Wright R-3350-57
Cylinders Radial, Radial 18
Cooling Air
HP 2,200 each
Dimensions  
Span 141' 3", 142' 3"
43.36 m
Length 99'
30.18 m
Height 29' 7"
9.01 m
Wing area 1,736 ft2
161.27 m2
Weight  
Empty 71,360 lb
32,269 kg
Loaded 141,000 lb, 141,100 lb
64,003 kg
Performance  
Speed at 25,000' / 7,620 m 358 mph
576 kph
Climb to 20,000' / 6,095 m 38 minutes
Service ceiling 31,800', 31,850'
9,695 m
Range 4,100 miles
6,598 km
Armament 1: 20 mm
10: MG
Tail turret 1: 20 mm
2: 12.7 mm
OR  
Turret - Over nose 4: 12.7 mm MG
Turret - Under nose 2: 12.7 mm MG
Turret - Over rear fuselage 2: 12.7 mm MG
Bombs 20,000 lb
9,072 kg

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site