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Boeing B-29 Superfortress
The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was the most significant long range bomber of World War II. Designed in 1940 to replace the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers, the first B-29 Superfortress made its maiden flight from Boeing Field, Seattle, WA on 21 September 1942.
B-29 bombers dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 August and 9 August 1945, and, from 1944, were the backbone of the conventional heavy strategic bombing of Japan that led to the Japanese surrender on 2 September 1945.
Boeing B-29 Superfortress in World War II
The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was committed to the Pacific Theater in December 1943 by General "Hap" Arnold, then Commanding General of the Army Air Forces. The superior range of the B-29 made it particularly suited for the long flights against the Japanese homeland, over-water from island bases or from airfields in China. During April 1944, the first operational B-29s were sent to India, organized as the Twentieth Air Force. While initial bombing results were poor, starting in May 1944 B-29s began flying more than 1,500 miles one way from the Marianas Islands (Saipan, Guam and Tinian). More than 1,000 bombers and 250 fighters conducted 28,000 combat sorties against Japan in the brief span of 16 months, dropping incendiary bombs that set the Japanese cities on fire. This relentless campaign, capped by the atomic bombings in August 1945, convinced the Japanese to surrender unconditionally on 2 September 1945.
Boeing B-29 Superfortress in the Korean War
The conflict in Korea that started in June 1950 brought the B-29 back to a combat role. Although vulnerable to MiG-15 jet fighter attacks, the Superfortress remained effective in night missions against selected targets throughout the Korean War. It was rendered obsolete by the post-war jet-engined bombers.
Boeing B-29 Superfortress Production History
A total of 3,895 B-29 aircraft were produced by Boeing (Renton, WA and Wichita, KS), Bell Aircraft (Marietta, GA), and Glenn Martin (Omaha, NE) following the prototype flight in September 1942. The Fisher Body plant in Cleveland, OH was a subcontractor for control surfaces and engine nacelles. Several variants were produced, including the B-29A with a different engine and wing structure. The Renton plant produced 1,119 B-29As, but other variants did not go into production.
The last B-29 rolled out of the Boeing plant in Wichita, KS in October 1945. The most famous B-29 was the "Enola Gay" that dropped the first atomic bomb. Enola Gay is a model B-29-45-MO, serial number 44-86292, now at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC.
After WW II, in 1947, the Soviet Union produced a copy of the B-29 named the Tu-4.
Boeing B-29 Superfortress Characteristics
Recommended Book about the Boeing B-29 Superfortress