YouTube – B-29
Wright R 3350
4 x 2,000 hp. ea.
10- .50 caliber
1- 20 mm
141 ft. 3 in.
The B-29, produced by Boeing, was the most advanced, largest, highest flying, and fastest heavy bomber of World War II. It was known as the Superfortress.
On May 14, 1946 a B-29 piloted by Col. Bill Irvine set a piston engine aircraft altitude record of 47,910 feet while carrying a 1,000 kg. payload.
The B-29 was designed in response to a U.S. government requirement for a bomber with a range of over 5,000 miles that could fly faster and carry heavier payloads than any other bomber.
When Boeing received the new requirements they were already in the process of designing a new aircraft, including having produced a full-scale mock-up. Its design nearly fulfilled the government requirements, and it only took some minor modifications before the newly designed B-29 was submitted for approval.
The B-29 was the first U.S. bomber to have pressurized crew quarters, remote control gun turrets, and an electric fire control system.
The government was so pleased with the design that they immediately ordered three prototypes and a total of 1,500 B-29 aircraft.
At the time, the B-29 was the largest bomber ever designed in the U.S. Four manufacturing plants were eventually employed to assemble its primary parts. Numerous subcontractors produced the smaller parts of the aircraft.
The first prototype B-29 met its demise during a test flight after an engine blaze. Boeing modified the aircraft to improve its performance, yet it had numerous development issues needing attention. In time, overall aircraft performance improved.
It was decided that the B-29 solely be assigned to missions in the Pacific where its great range and payload could be used to maximum advantage.
Beginning in July of 1944, two bomber wings were deployed to China. From there they could fly missions against the Japanese in Thailand as well as the Japanese mainland. Once islands within closer range of Japan were secured, air fields were built for the heavy bombers.
B-29 raids were launched against Japan from the Marianas from late in 1944 and continued until the war ended. During these raids, Japanese shipping routes were mined in additional to conventional strategic missions being flown.
The raids over Japan were extremely effective. Fire bombing cities turned them into ashes, killing many civilians. Yet Japanese troops continued their resistance throughout the Pacific. Japan was unwilling to accept the U.S. terms for unconditional surrender which including removal of their Emperor. .
Some believe that U.S. president Truman wanted to show the Soviet Union the power of its new weapon, the atom bomb. If the Japanese surrendered before it could be deployed, the opportunity to show the effects of the bomb on populations would be lost.
Whether Japanese cities were devastated by a single bomb, or many bombs, made little difference to Japan. Their greatest fear was the Soviet Union entering the war, and what would happen if it ended up occupying Japan. Some historians believe that it was the news of the Soviet Union declaring war on Japan, rather than the dropping of the atom bombs, that finally brought about its surrender to the United States.
Fifteen B-29 aircraft were picked and modified for what was termed “special weapons” delivery. They formed the 509th Composite Group. The force trained for high altitude missions, long-distance navigation, and the use of radar. Crews also devised quick turning and fast target departure maneuvers.
Training of the 509th Composite Group B-29 crews began in November of 1944. Part of the training involved dropping a single simulated ordnance with a weight of approximately 10,000 lbs.
On August 6, 1945 a B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. On August 8, 1945, the Soviet Union officially declared war on Japan. A second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. On August 15, 1945, Japan officially surrendered to the United States marking the end of World War II.
In the final days of WW II, after raids over Japan, three B-29 bomber aircraft made emergency landings in the Soviet Union. By reverse engineering the U.S. designs, the Soviet Union produced some 300 of the aircraft, without license, for their own use.
Soon after Japan’s surrender, B-29 aircraft were used to drop food and supplies to Allied prisoners held in Japan.
After the War, the B-29 became the primary bomber of the just established U.S. Strategic Air Command. They saw action again during the Korean War. They flew missions primarily at night in an effort to avoid interceptor aircraft. Their missions, flying from Japanese air fields, were generally against industrial targets in North Korea.
The B-29 was eventually modified to undertake search and rescue missions, as an air refueling tanker, and as a bomber trainer. The RAF had a total of 88 of the aircraft in operation starting in 1950, with the last aircraft retiring from service in 1958.
By the time they retired in 1960, a total of some 3,970 B-29 aircraft of all types were produced.
The huge B-29 was built by Bart Vercruysse and crew. It is featured in Fly International Magazine. It is 20% scale with a wingspan of 30 feet and a length of 21 feet. Construction is all wood and it has operating landing gear and flaps. Power comes from four 9.8 c.i.d. engines. Weight is over 450 lbs.
Don Smith has two sets of plans for the B-29. Wingspans are 144 in. or 169 in.
The 144 in. wingspan B-29 built from Don Smith plans has a length of 99 in. Power can come from .91 engines.
The Don Smith plans for a larger B-29 has a 169 in. wingspan and is 119 in. in length. You will need 1.20 engines to power it.