Used in both World War 2 and the Korean War the B-29 allowed the United States to attack targets on the Japanese mainland that had been out of reach. Although it is perhaps for the
dropping of the world's first atomic bomb by the Enola Gay that the Boeing B-29 Superfortress is perhaps best remembered for.
With Europe in the midst of war the issue of long-range bombers was discussed by the planners of the United States Army Air Corps with the plane potentially being required to operate
over the Pacific Ocean. This lead to General Henry H ('Hap') Arnold getting the very long-range (VLR) project started during January 1940 then on the 29th five United States aircraft
companies had proposals sent to them. Four of the companies responded and each project given it's own designation.
XB-29 - Boeing
XB-30 - Lockheed
XB-31 - Douglas
XB-32 - Consolidated
Although both Douglas and Lockheed later withdrew their submissions. This left Boeing's XB-29 and Consolidated (Convair) XB-32 Dominator designs to be compared and an initial
order of two prototypes was placed on the 6th September 1940, although this was later increased to three.
The 7th September 1942 saw the XB-32 Dominator take to the skies first, beating Boeing's design by fourteen days, however Boeing had already received orders for their aircraft
totalling over 1,500 before their prototype flew. So whilst the XB-32 required more development Boeing's XB-29 design was an updated version of their model 341 design which in
itself was a continuation of various improvements in the design of their B-17 Flying Fortress, allowing them to convince the USAAC that production aircraft would be available in a couple
With the prototypes now produced and flying fourteen service test aircraft designated YB-29 were ordered. The 1st June 1943 would see the 58th Very Heavy Bombardment Wing formed
in anticipation of the first flight of these aircraft which would take place on the 26th June 1943. These would be followed in the autumn by production deliveries of the Superfortress
to the 58th VHBW so they could begin preparing for operational service with the type.
Whilst the B-29 had been designed to operate in the Pacific it had been agreed by the Allies that the aim would be for the war in Europe to be ended first. So this would be the
Superfortresses most likely destination. But as 1943 drew to a close it was felt that the B-29 could be more effectively used in the Far East.
The new aircraft would initially operate from four airfields in China, this was due to no island bases available to accommodate the B-29, and these were all completed by the 10th
May 1944. Although prior to this the 20th Air Force had been formed on the 4th April 1944 to use the B-29 and twenty days later on the 24th the first aircraft arrived at Kwanghan air base.
Taking off from these bases on the 15th June 1944 seventy seven B-29s of XX Bomber Command made the types first attack on the mainland of Japan when they targeted the Imperial Iron and
Steel works at Yawata, Kyushu. However the B-29 was hampered by the many problems of operating from their Chinese bases and no concentrated campaign could be launched. It wouldn't be
until the capture of the Mariana Islands and the establishment of bases on Saipan, Guam and Tinian that the B-29 could be deployed in larger numbers.
It will surely be for the dropping of the atomic bomb that the B-29 will be best remembered for when two Superfortresses of the 393rd Bombardment Squadron carried out the task. The Enola Gay
would drop the first on Hiroshima on the 6th August 1945 followed by Nagasaki on the 9th when Bock's Car dropped the second, shortly after these events World War 2 came to an end.
By the time production ended in May 1946 3,970 B-29s had been built and would remain in service with the USAAC and would see action during the Korean War. A number of B-29s would serve with the
Royal Air Force in Bomber Command, on loan, and would be known as Washington B.Is.
||ten/eleven 0.50-in machine-guns
one 20mm cannon
||tweleve 0.50-in machine-guns
one 20mm cannon
||twelve 0.50-in machine-guns
||B-29 to be powered by improved Wright R-3350 engines, none built.
||Became the Boeing B-50 Superfortress.
||Fire control test aircraft.
||Six converted B-29s used as cold weather test aircraft.
||Jet engine test aircraft.
||Sole B-29A modified as a armament test aircraft.
||Six aircraft used to test improved engines and propellers.
||Hose type refueling aircraft.
||Receiver aircraft for KB-29M.
||Boom-type receiver aircraft.
||Two x plane carriers. One for XL and one XF-85.
||Converted for rescue use.
||Converted for use as weather reconnaissance.
||Three aircraft used as test beds for Airbourne Early Warning.