From the lessons learned of the potent B-17 came the Boeing B-29 Superfortress and it is no coincidence that it got its name from its predecessor, the Flying Fortress. The B-29 was a four engine propeller-driven, first fully pressurized heavy bomber that saw combat near the end of World War II and during the Korean War.
It surpassed the B-17 in a number of ways, which included a pressurized cabin, an electronic fire-control system and remote controlled machine gun turrets. Specifically, the aircraft carried eight .50-cal. machine guns, two .50-cal. machine guns and one 20mm cannon in a tail turret, and up to 20,000 pounds of bombs. The machine guns were imperative, as they were the only defense against enemy fighters (howerver, many times, the bombers were escorted by allied fighter aircraft as well). Larger than the Flying Fortress, the Superfortress was one of the largest aircrafts to have seen service during World War II.
Designed in 1940, the B-29 made its maiden flight on Sept. 21, 1942. The bomber saw much activity in the Asian theater in 1944 and 1945, where it made many bombing runs over Japan and its islands – Saipan, Guam and Tinian, after lifting off from (what was then) US Army Air Force bases in China.
The Superfortress was the aircraft that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945 and on Aug. 6th on Hiroshima. The explosive force was equivalent to about It 15 kilotons of TNT. ‘Little Boy’ was the code name for the type of atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the Boeing B-29 Superfortress named ‘Enola Gay’, piloted by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., commander of the 509th Composite Group of the United States Army Air Forces. These planes were assigned to the 393d Bombardment Squadron, 509th Composite Group at Wendover Army Air Field, Utah.
The decision to drop the atomic bombs was made after allied forces agreed that the alternative – to land and overtake the Japanese islands could have run into casulaties of over 200,000. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were also well know for thier industrial military complexes.
After World War II, the B-29s continued their successful missions in the Korean War thearter of operations.
B-29 Superfortress Specifications
Armament: Eight .50-cal. machine guns in remote controlled turrets, plus two .50-cal. machine guns and one 20mm cannon in the tail; 20,000 lbs. of bombs. It carries four Wright R-3350s engines at 2,200 hp each.
Maximum speed: 357 mph
Cruising speed: 220 mph
Range: 3,700 miles
Span: 141 ft. 3 in.
Length: 99 ft.
Height: 27 ft. 9 in.
Weight: 133,500 lbs.