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Boeing B-29 Superfortress odozgo


Jedinice super-tvrđava B-29 u Drugom svjetskom ratu, Robert F Dorr. Unatoč naslovu, ova knjiga zapravo se bavi razvojem i servisnom karijerom B-29 Superfortress, od prijeratnog poziva na stvaranje teškog bombardera do vrhunca 1945. godine kada su flote masivnog srebrnog bombardera uništile gradove Japana. [vidi više]


Mjenjač igara u Drugom svjetskom ratu: Boeing B-29 supertvrđava bila je jednostavno nezaustavljiva

Prvi put s proizvodne trake koji je sišao s proizvodnog zrakoplova u srpnju 1943. godine, Superfortress je bio odgovor na američku potrebu za strateškim bombarderom velike udaljenosti. Zamišljena 1938. godine, Superfortress je dizajnirana kako bi povećala domet, nosivost i brzinu svojih prethodnika te je naposljetku predviđena za službu samo u Pacifičkom kazalištu operacija. B-29 imao je domet opterećenja od oko 4.000 milja, mogao je nositi bombaški teret do 20.000 funti, imao je borbeni strop veći od 36.000 stopa te je putovao najvećom brzinom od preko 350 milja na sat s krstarećom brzinom od 230 milja na sat. Nijedan drugi bombarder na svijetu nije prišao svojim mogućnostima.

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Supertvrđava je također utjecala na američku strategiju na Pacifiku. Već gospodari Salomonovog, Gilbertovog i Maršalovog otočja, američki stratezi koji su odlučili zaobići japansko uporište na Karolinskim otocima i umjesto toga usmjeriti svoju pozornost na Marijanske otoke. Na njihovu odluku djelomično je utjecala dostupnost novog bombardera B-29, koji je lako mogao stići do kopna Japana nekih 1500 milja udaljenih od Marijanskih otoka Saipan, Tinian i Guam.

B-29 je također donio brojne tehnološke inovacije u postojeći američki zračni arsenal. Bio je to prvi zrakoplov s grijanom kabinom posade pod tlakom, što je uvelike poboljšalo udobnost posade i borbenu učinkovitost, a istovremeno smanjilo njihov umor. S tlakom, B-29 bi mogao djelovati na znatno većim nadmorskim visinama od prethodnih bombardera i često iznad stropa neprijateljskih lovaca. To je ujedno bio i prvi bombarder koji je uveo stajni trap s trotočkašima na dva kotača. Ranije je leteća tvrđava B-17 imala repni kotač, a B-24 Liberator jedan kotač s nosom, što je potonju učinilo notorno nestabilnom pri slijetanju. Bez umanjivanja ovih zrakoplovnih inovacija, ono što je B-29 doista razlikovalo od svih ostalih bombardera na svijetu bio je njegov najmoderniji topnički sustav koji ga je učinio doslovno letećom supertvrdom.

Zrakoplov je sadržavao centralizirani sustav za upravljanje vatrom modela General Electric Company 2CFR55B1 ili CFC, koji je obrambenu mitraljesku bombu pretvorio iz labave zbirke neovisnih topova u integrirani sustav oružja. Glavne komponente CFC sustava bile su pet topova, pet kupola s daljinskim upravljanjem, pet računara za ciljanje i sustav za prebacivanje električnog oružja. Svakom od pet kupola daljinski je upravljao topnik smješten u jednoj od pet nišanskih stanica smještenih u cijelom zrakoplovu. Putanja paljbe izračunata je s pet ciljanih računala, od kojih je svako povezano s nišanskom stanicom, a svako je spojeno na jednu ili više kupola kojima se moglo upravljati s te jedne promatračke postaje.

Dvije kupole bile su smještene u prednjem dijelu zrakoplova, s gornjom prednjom kupolom na vrhu trupa i donjom prednjom kupolom na dnu, obje pozicionirane malo unatrag od prednjeg odjeljka posade pod pritiskom gdje su letjeli pilot, kopilot, let inženjer i navigator sjedio. Slično, gornja i donja krmena kupola nalazile su se na vrhu i dnu trupa prema stražnjem dijelu zrakoplova ispred njegove repne peraje. Peti je montiran u rep okrenut straga.

B-29 je imao posadu od 11 zrakoplovaca, od kojih je pet bilo naoružanih. Službenik za kontrolu vatre, koji se naziva i top -top ili top -topnik, ugledao je žulj od pleksiglasa na vrhu trupa i sjedio je u srednjem odjeljku za posadu pod pritiskom u visokoj stolici poznatoj kao "stolica za brijače". Topnici s desne i lijeve strane, ili mjehurići s mjehurićima, bili su smješteni ispod gornjeg topnika, gledajući kroz žuljeve na suprotnim stranama trupa. Bombarder je sjedio u nosu zrakoplova, ispred pilota i kopilota, a funkcionirao je kao nosač nosa kad nije bio uključen u stvarnu bombardiranje. Puška oružja se povukla kako bi se sklonila s puta kad je skrenuo pozornost na nišan koji je bio pričvršćen na pod između njegovih nogu. Konačno, repni topnik sjedio je sam u stražnjem dijelu aviona u krmenom odjeljku pod tlakom.

Jednom je topniku dodijeljena primarna kontrola ili "prvi poziv" pri upotrebi svake od pet kupola. Putem niza električnih prekidača, upravljanje kupolom moglo se prenijeti na sekundarnog topnika koji je njome mogao upravljati sam ili zajedno sa svojom primarnom kupolom. Nosač je imao primarnu kontrolu nad obje prednje kupole. Sekundarna kontrola gornje prednje kupole pala je na gornjeg topnika, donju prednju kupolu kontrolirao je jedan od bočnih topnika. Gornji topnik imao je primarnu kontrolu nad gornjom stražnjom kupolom, a sekundarnu kontrolu nad gornjom prednjom kupolom. Bočni topnici primarno su upravljali donjom stražnjom kupolom sa sekundarnom kontrolom donje prednje kupole i repne kupole. Repni topnik mogao je kontrolirati samo repnu kupolu.

Uz sve preklapajuće mogućnosti upravljanja vatrom, pravilna komunikacija među topnicima preko interfonskog sustava zrakoplova bila je najvažnija, a časnik za kontrolu vatre potporio je cijeli proces. Sustav za pozicioniranje pištolja, s izuzetkom repnog nosača, sadržavao je vatrene prekidače koji su zabranjivali oružje da puca na krila ili rep vlastitog zrakoplova. Međutim, topovi bi mogli pucati na vlastitu formaciju ako je oružje bilo aktivno u vrijeme kada se kontrola prebacivala između topnika, a oružje se okretalo do ciljanog položaja drugog topnika.

Svaka od pet kupola sadržavala je dva zračno hlađena mitraljeza Browning M2 .50 kalibra. Kao odgovor na relativnu učinkovitost frontalnih napada, kasnije verzije zrakoplova uključivale su dvije dodatne .50s u gornjoj prednjoj kupoli. Kako bi se izbjeglo pregrijavanje oružja, topnici su upućeni da pucaju u kratkim rafalima, a zatim broje do tri prije nego što ponovo počnu pucati. Vruće cijevi pištolja proširile bi se, smanjivši točnost, ili bi mogle potpuno puknuti ili "skuhati" sljedeću rundu toplinski induciranom paljbom. Moglo se ispaliti najviše 25 metaka odjednom, ali tada je bilo potrebno najmanje 15 sekundi hlađenja, što se moralo činiti kao vječnost u sukobu s neprijateljem. Rani modeli B-29 također su uključivali top od 20 mm u repni držač. Topom se upravljalo istim mehanizmom za nišanjenje i gađanje kao i stražnjom kupolom mitraljeza i moglo se gađati zajedno s strojnicama, ali ne i samo. Metak od 20 mm težio je otprilike dvostruko više od metaka kalibra .50, ali je pakirao gotovo tri puta veću snagu.

Svaki je topnik ručno upravljao nišanom, koji je električno spojen na CFC sustav i sadržavao je stakleni okular od 2 inča po 3 inča. Staklena optika imala je dva izmjenjiva nebeska filtera, što je strijelcu omogućilo da održava jasan pogled na svoju metu kroz optiku u gotovo mračnim uvjetima ili čak da vidi neprijatelja koji napada sa sunca. Končanica koja se sastoji od kruga točkica poravnatih oko središnje točke, slično onoj na nišanu na nišanu puške ili oznakama za fokusiranje na tražilu fotoaparata, reflektirana je na optičkom staklu pomoću končanice s podesivim osvjetljenjem.

Kad je naišao na cilj, topnik je morao prvo vizualno identificirati vrstu neprijateljskog zrakoplova, a zatim namjestiti gumb veličine mete na nišanu s 35 stopa na 150 stopa kako bi odgovarao rasponu krila ciljnog zrakoplova. Predviđena veličina končanice mijenjala se s podešavanjem gumba za veličinu cilja, prikazujući trenutnu postavku veličine cilja u stopama na položaju 12 sati u krugu končanica. Postavljajući središnju točku končanice na središte mete, topnik bi zatim namještao točkić dometa sve dok krila ciljnog zrakoplova potpuno ne ispune krug končanica.

Praćenje cilja tada je zahtijevalo glatko kretanje nišana i na okomitoj osi, ili na uzvišenju, i na vodoravnoj osi, odnosno azimutu, kako bi ciljni zrakoplov bio centriran u končanici i pravilno raspon unutar granica kruga končanica. Na promjene azimuta utjecalo je to što je topnik rotirao nišan horizontalno zajedno s tijelom, dok su promjene u visini zahtijevale pomicanje nišana okomito zakretanjem dva držača ručnog kotača koji su se nalazili s vanjske strane okvira nišana. Podešavanja trenja omogućila su strijelcu da prilagodi dodir kretnji nišana prema svojim željama.

Svaki pokret na nišanu, bilo po visini ili po azimutu, rezultirao je električno aktiviranim odgovarajućim kretanjem topova (uzvišenje), kupole (azimut) ili oboje. Mehanizam za prijenos ovih pokreta uključivao je diferencijalne selsyn generatore u nišanu i na mjestu postavljanja pištolja, kao i servo pojačalo i dva generatora amplidina, koji su pokretali dva motora koji su pokretali pištolje.

S izuzetkom repnog nosača, kupole su se mogle rotirati za 360 stupnjeva po azimutu, a topovi su se mogli nagnuti za 90 stupnjeva u visini u odnosu na tijelo zrakoplova. Okidači za okidanje nisu "povučeni" sami po sebi, već su gumbi bili smješteni uz ručne kotače i pritisnuti palcem jednog od topnika. Akcijski prekidač pritisnut lijevim dlanom topnika dok je bio u kontaktu s ručnim kotačem poslužio je kao kontrolni pomak za nišansku stanicu. Ako prekidač za akciju nije pritisnut, na primjer u slučaju da je topnik onesposobljen, pištolji se nisu mogli ispaliti s te promatračke postaje. Kontrola kupola (kupola) zatim je prenesena na drugu nišandžijsku nišansku stanicu, bez obzira na trenutne postavke električnih upravljačkih sklopki, osiguravajući da sve kupole ostanu u funkciji.

Dok je bio u kontaktu s neprijateljem, topnik je jednostavno trebao ispravno odrediti veličinu, domet i pratiti cilj svojim nišanom, a zatim pucati na odgovarajućem učinkovitom dometu. Sustav CFC pomaknuo je oružje dok je računalo neprestano izračunavalo sve ispravke potrebne da ispaljeni projektil pogodi metu. Uz računarski izračunato ciljanje, učinkoviti domet topova bio je 900 metara, 50 posto dalje od ručno naočarenih pištolja i više nego dvostruko učinkovitiji domet većine topova neprijateljskih lovaca.

Računalo je ispravilo korekciju kao odstupanje od paralelnih zrcalnih kretanja između nišana i topova koje prenosi sustav selsyns. Ukupna izračunata korekcija bila je zbroj pojedinačnih korekcija za balistiku, paralaksu i olovo. Balističke korekcije kompenziraju otklon projektila uzrokovan gravitacijom i vjetrom dok je projektil izlazio iz zrakoplova koji je putovao oko 250 milja na sat. Budući da su sami topovi bili udaljeni od nišana, korekcija paralakse omogućila je udaljenost duž duljine zrakoplova između nišana i cijevi topa. Korekcija olova dopuštala je udaljenost leta ciljnog zrakoplova za vrijeme dok je projektil bio u zraku.

Da bi izvršilo svoje korekcijske proračune, računalo je zahtijevalo nekoliko ulaznih informacija dobivenih iz nekoliko različitih izvora. Ti su ulazi uključivali trenutni položaj topova u visini i azimutu stvarne brzine zraka zrakoplova, nadmorske visine i vanjske temperature, koje je navigator zrakoplova unosio domet do cilja dobivenog iz nišana dok je topnik pratio cilj i prilagođavao ga kotač dometa i relativna brzina cilja primljena iz dva žiroskopa smještena na nišanu dok je topnik pratio metu.

Ovisno o vrsti paralakse, korištena su dva različita modela računala. Računalo s jednim paralaksom, model General Electric 2CH1C1, korišteno je na mjernim postajama koje su imale paralaksu između nišana i samo jednog mjesta pištolja, kao što je repna topovska stanica, koja je kontrolirala samo jednu kupolu, ili nosač topovnjače, čija su dva kupole su se nalazile jedna iznad druge i jedna ispod druge gotovo jednako udaljene uzdužno od nišana. Računalo s dvostrukom paralaksom, model 2CH1D1, korišteno je za tri gornja i bočna topovnjača jer su sva tri topnika mogla istodobno kontrolirati dvije kupole različite paralakse iz svog nišana. Iako su bočni topnici mogli upravljati s tri različite kupole putem sustava za upravljanje prekidačem, mogli su upravljati samo s dva istovremeno.

Svi ulazi u računalo bili su električni, ali je samo računalo izvršilo svoje proračune mehanički jer je čisto električni kalkulator bio izvan dosega postojeće tehnologije u eri vakuumskih cijevi sa svojim apetitom za električnom strujom i ogromnom toplinskom snagom. U zrakoplovu su se dodatno zabrinjavali veličina i težina. Pretvaranje električnih ulaza u mehanički proračunski sustav postignuto je nizom selsyna i potenciometara.

Računalo je doista bilo nekoliko zasebnih, ali međusobno povezanih računskih jedinica sadržanih u istoj šasiji, koja je bila veličine kovčega i težila je više od 50 kilograma. Jedinica za balističko računanje programirana je s poznatim učincima gravitacije i balističkim karakteristikama granate kalibra 0,50 ispaljene iz Browning M2, poput brzine njuške. Da bi se izračunao balistički ispravak, balistička jedinica trebala je znati trenutni položaj pištolja za kut početne brzine, domet do cilja, trenutnu stvarnu brzinu zraka koja je utjecala na vjetrometinu, te trenutnu visinu i vanjsku temperaturu zrakoplova, što utjecala na gustoću zraka, a time i na povlačenje metka. Slično, računalna jedinica za paralaksu bila je programirana uzdužnom udaljenošću (ima) između njenog nišana i kupole (ova) koje bi nišan mogao kontrolirati, ali je trebala znati trenutni položaj pištolja i domet do cilja za trigonometrijsko izračunavanje korekcije paralakse . Konačno, jedinica za izračunavanje olova izračunala je korekciju olova iz raspona i relativne brzine cilja zajedno s balističkim karakteristikama, što je utjecalo na vrijeme projektila do cilja.

Izlaz računala, koji se sastojao od paralelnog signala primljenog od topničkog selsyna prilagođenog zbroju triju izračunatih korekcija, zatim je pretvoren natrag u električne impulse koji su napajali servo pojačalo ili regulator povratne sprege koji je pokretao dva motora za postavljanje oružja, jedan za uzvišenje i jedan za azimut. Tako je ispravka računala uvedena kao promjena položaja oružja i kupole od onog koji bi bio točno paralelan sa položajem nišanta.

Budući da su bila električno povezana, računala nisu morala biti fizički smještena ni s nišanima ni s kupolama. Računalo nosača nosača nalazilo se u prednjoj kabini pod tlakom na krmi oklopa pilota, dok su ostala četiri računala bila postavljena ispod poda u odjeljku operatora radara blizu stražnje strane srednje kabine pod pritiskom okružena oklopom. U slučaju kvara računala ili borbenog oštećenja, sklopka za poništavanje omogućila je strijelcu da potpuno zaobiđe računalo i upravlja oružjem bez ispravljanja pomoću uvlačivog nišana za nišanjenje na nišanu.

Prema evidenciji zračnih snaga američke vojske, isporučeno je ukupno 3.760 proizvodnih superforsa, od kojih je oko 70 posto Boeing izgradio u svojim tvornicama u Wichiti u Kansasu i Rentonu u Washingtonu. Ostatak je proizveden u Marietti, Georgia, od strane Bell Aircraft Company i u Omahi, Nebraska, od strane Glenn L. Martin Company, kasnije dijela Martin-Marietta.

Nakon što je montaža završena, ali prije nego što je zrakoplov bio spreman za borbu, topovi su usklađeni i testirana računala za ciljanje. Prvo, oba pištolja u jednoj kupoli poravnana su s paralelnim oznakama mete pomoću alata za nišanjenje provrta s poravnavanjem izmjenama vijaka za podešavanje. Zatim je svaka kupola poravnana sa svakom od nišanskih stanica koje su je mogle kontrolirati pomoću unaprijed definirane harmonizacijske mete postavljene najmanje 100 stopa od zrakoplova. Podešavanja su izvršena ili na selsynu na vidikovcu ili na onom u kupoli, ovisno o tome koja je kombinacija nišana i kupole prilagođena. Nakon usklađivanja topova i nišana, računala za ciljanje zajedno sa svim ulaznim sustavima i proračunskim komponentama testirana su pomoću opsežnog uređaja za testiranje koji na svom licu sadrži preko 50 brojčanika, mjerača i prekidača.

Proizvodnja zrakoplova brzo je nadmašila kapacitete proizvođača za postavljanje revolucionarnih CFC sustava, pa je USAAF započeo obuku vlastite posade kako bi se osiguralo da inače borbeno spremni bombaši ne kasne s razmještanjem. Kaplar USAAF-a Robert W. “Bob” Truxell iz Lansinga, Michigan, bio je dio prve klase koja je završila B-29 CFC i škole za računarsku obuku na Lowry Fieldu u Denveru, Colorado. Truxell je prethodno isprao obuku pilota kadeta u zraku zbog tromjesečne borbe s reumatskom groznicom, koja ga je trajno diskvalificirala iz službe u letačkoj posadi. Bolest se pokazala slučajnom budući da je većina njegove eskadrile kadeta kasnije izgubljena u loše osmišljenom napadu na Ploesti, Rumunjska, rafinerije nafte 1. kolovoza 1943. Nakon što se oporavio od bolesti, Truxell je iz zračnih kadeta premješten u zrakoplov naoružanje, gdje je završio tečaj mehaničara kupola na daljinsko upravljanje.

Nakon tečaja za kupole, Truxell je izabran na 16-tjedni specijalistički tečaj B-29 CFC jer je započeo studij inženjerstva, uključujući i trigonometriju, na Institutu General Motors u Flintu, Michigan, prije nego što se prijavio u veljači 1943. desetar Truxell završio je prvi u svom razredu CFC -a, stekavši ulaz u ciljanu računalnu školu i treću traku po njenom završetku. Ubrzo nakon toga dobio je zapovijedanje prvom maturskom klasom i klackalicu stožernog narednika. Prvi zadatak nove posade bio je u Georgiji.

Truxell piše: "Svi smo bili poslani u tvornicu B-29 [Bell Aircraft] u Marietti, Georgia, gdje su dovršeni B-29 postrojeni milju čekajući pravilno poravnanje kupola i središnjeg računala." On se živo sjeća korištenja aparata za gašenje požara za ispiranje civila koji spavaju na satu o državnom trošku iz tunela posade bombardera pod pritiskom kako bi njegova posada mogla pristupiti krmenim dijelovima zrakoplova. Nakon što je riješen zaostatak u Gruziji, posada je preskočila u različite zračne baze na državnoj razini gdje su eskadrile B-29 bile spremne za prekomorsko raspoređivanje-osim za konačno prilagođavanje njihovih topovskih sustava. Nakon raspoređivanja određene eskadrile, posada oružnika prešla je u sljedeću bazu. Truxell svoju uslugu naziva "prilično sigurnim i zanimljivim poslom".

Revolucionarni oružani sustav B-29 učinio je posao japanskog lovca lovcem ni prilično siguran ni zanimljiv. Prema Statističkom pregledu armijskih zračnih snaga objavljenom u prosincu 1945., u razdoblju od 13 mjeseci od kolovoza 1944. do kraja rata u kolovozu 1945., B-29 su odgovorne za uništenje 914 neprijateljskih zrakoplova u zraku uz gubitak od samo 72 svoja neprijateljska zrakoplova tijekom više od 31 000 borbenih letova.


1. studenog 1954

1. studenog 1954.: Zračne snage Sjedinjenih Država počinju povlačiti Boeing B-29 Superfortress iz službe. Na gornjoj fotografiji B-29A-20-BN 42-94012 nalazi se u skladištu zrakoplova, u zračnoj bazi Davis-Monthan, Tucson, Arizona, “The Boneyard. ” Suha pustinjska klima i tvrdo, alkalno tlo čine bazu idealnom za dugoročno skladištenje zrakoplova. Planine Santa Catalina su u pozadini.

B-29 Superfortress bio je tehnološki najnapredniji-i najsloženiji-zrakoplov Drugog svjetskog rata. Za proizvodnju su bile potrebne proizvodne sposobnosti cijele nacije. Za projektiranje prototipova bilo je potrebno više od 1.400.000 inženjerskih radnih sati.

Superfortress su proizvodili Boeing iz Seattlea i Rentona, Washington, te Wichita, Kansas, tvrtka Glenn L. Martin iz Omahe, Nebraska, i Bell Aircraft Corporation, Marietta, Georgia.

Postojala su tri prototipa XB-29, 14 pretproizvodnih zrakoplova YB-29, 2.513 B-29 Superfortress, 1.119 B-29A i 311 zrakoplova B-29B. Bombarder je služio tijekom Drugoga svjetskog rata i Korejskog rata, a nastavio je s aktivnom američkom službom do 1960. Osim svoje primarne misije kao teški bombarder velikog dometa, Superfortress je služio i kao izviđački zrakoplov za fotografije, označen kao F-13, vremenski izviđački avion (WB-29) i tanker (KB-29).

Boeing B-29 Superfortresses u Wichiti, Kansas, 1944. (zračne snage SAD-a)

B-29 je upravljala posada od 11 do 13 ljudi. Bio je dugačak 99 stopa, 0 inča (30,175 metara) s rasponom krila 141 stopa, 3 inča (43,068 metara). Okomita peraja bila je visoka 27 stopa, 8,305 metara. Krila su imala ukupno 1.720 četvornih metara (četvornih metara). Upadni kut bio je 4 ° s 4 ° 29 ′ 23 ″ dihderala. Prednji rubovi pomesti su unatrag 7 ° 1 ′ 26 ″. Prazna težina bombardera bila je 71 500 funti (kilograma) s najvećom težinom za polijetanje 140 000 funti (kilograma).

B-29 pokretali su četiri zračno hlađena, punjena, punjenja, 3.347,66 kubičnih inča (54,885 litara) zrakoplovne ciklone 18 Wright (poznata i kao dupleks-ciklon) 670C18BA4 (R-3350-23A), dvoredna 18-cilindrični radijalni motori, koji su imali normalnu snagu od 2.000 konjskih snaga pri 2.400 o / min i 2.200 konjskih snaga pri 2.800 o / min za polijetanje. Prevezli su propelere konstantne brzine Hamilton Standard s prometom od 16 stopa, 7 inča (5.055 metara) kroz smanjenje broja stupnjeva prijenosa 0,35: 1. R-3350-23A bio je dugačak 6 stopa, 1,937 metara, 4 stope, 7,18 inča (1,417 metara) u promjeru i težak 1200 kilograma.

Boeing B-29A-30-BN Superfortress 42-94106, oko 1945. (Zračne snage SAD-a)

Maksimalna brzina B-29 iznosila je 353 čvora (404 milje na sat/654 kilometra na sat) na 30.000 stopa (9.144 metara), iako je njegova normalna krstareća brzina bila 198 čvorova (228 milja na sat/367 kilometara na sat) pri 25.000 stopa (7.620 metara). Pri najvećoj težini pri polijetanju, B-29 je trebao 1 sat, 1,5 minuta da se popne s razine mora na 6.096 metara. Servisni strop bombardera bio je 13 167 metara. Borbeni domet iznosio je 3.445 nautičkih milja (3.964 zakonskih milja/6.380 kilometara), a najveći doseg trajekta bio je 4.493 nautičke milje (8.170 zakonskih milja/8.321 kilometara).

Supertvrđava je mogla nositi najviše 20.000 funti (9.072 kilograma) bombi u dvije bombe. Za obranu je imao 12 strojnica Browning M2 .50 kalibra u četiri daljinski upravljane kupole i položaj s posadom. B-29 je nosio 500 metaka po pištolju.

Brojni B-29 Superfortress izloženi su na lokacijama diljem svijeta, ali samo dvije, Spomen zračne snage i#8217s B-29A-60-BN 44-62070, Fifi, i B-29-70-BW 44-69972, Doc, su sposobni za plovidbu. (Nakon dugotrajne obnove, Doc primio svoju svjedodžbu Federalne uprave za zrakoplovstvo o posebnoj plovidbenosti, 19. svibnja 2016.)

B-29 Superfortresses u skladištu u zračnoj bazi Davis-Monthan. (Časopis LIFE)


Ovo je priča o tome kako su Rusi preokrenuli Boeing B-29 Superfortress

Iako mnogi vjeruju da je upravo atomska bomba dovela do pobjede protiv Japana u Drugom svjetskom ratu, u stvarnosti je Boeing B-29 Superfortress ono što im je zaista oduzelo borbu. Nekoliko mjeseci prije nego što je Bockscar odnio posljednji čavao u lijes, stotine B-29 iz SAD-a letjele su preko Tihog oceana u tisućama naleta i uklanjale različite japanske gradove i sposobnost Japana za borbu.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress bio je najnapredniji zrakoplov svog vremena i imao je najnoviju tehnologiju, uključujući topove na daljinsko upravljanje, odjeljke s dva kotača, odjeljke pod tlakom, ludo snažne motore i stajni trap za tricikl. Bio je sposoban nositi do 20.000 funti bombi i baciti ih na udaljenosti od 3.000 milja. Mogao je letjeti na nadmorskoj visini većoj od 30.000 - visini zbog koje je većina japanskih topova i aviona bila nedostupna - pri brzinama od 350 km / h. Boeing B-29 Superfortress bio je zapravo generacija ispred u usporedbi s Boeingom B-24 i B17, te Luftwaffeovim Junkersom Ju 290. Japan nije imao napredni bombarder, dok se najnapredniji bombarder koji je bio prisutan u sovjetskim zračnim snagama oslanjao na krilima prekrivenim tkaninom, dok je B-29 koristio potpuno aluminijske elerone.

Staljin je tražio od predsjednika Roosevelta da Sovjetskom Savezu dostavi B-29 u okviru američkog programa vojne pomoći. To je bilo razumijevanje koje je postojalo između savezničkih nacija prema kojem su trebali dijeliti hranu, ulje i materijale među sobom. SAD su poslale Sovjetskom Savezu sve osim teških bombardera. Međutim, Staljin je imao sreće jer je posadama B-29 bilo dopušteno slijetanje u Rusiju u slučaju nužde. Jedan takav hitan slučaj u ljeto 1944. doveo je do slijetanja tri B-29 u Vladivostok. Tri zrakoplova su bili general H.H. Arnold Special, Ding How i Ramp Tramp. Sovjeti su ih odveli u jedan objekt u Moskvi. Posada zrakoplova poslana je natrag u SAD nakon višestruke molbe iz SAD -a. Međutim, avioni se nikada nisu vratili.

Staljin je dao nalog da se točno kopira B-29 i tako su započeli najambiciozniji projekti obrnutog inženjeringa ikada. Od tri Boeingove B-29 Superfortress, jedna je rastavljena, dok je druga ostala netaknuta kao referenca. Treći je korišten za probni let. Sovjetski Savez se suočio s raznim problemima pokušavajući kopirati B-29. Sovjetskom Savezu nedostajali su proizvodni kapaciteti potrebni za izradu mnogih dijelova, pa je tako napravljen niz kompromisa. Mitraljezi kalibra .50 nisu se mogli nabaviti i zamijenjeni su topovima.

Kopiranje središnjeg sustava za upravljanje vatrom također se pokazalo kao jedan od najvećih izazova. Bio je to toliko složen zadatak da se Andrei Tupolev, koji je bio vodeći inženjerski projekt, zapravo iznenadio kad je njegov tim inženjera to uspio. Sovjetska supertvrđava Tupolev Tu-4 bila je spremna za dvije godine nakon toga, i iako je bilo mnogo izazova, težio je samo 340 kilograma više od B-29. Oba zrakoplova imala su isti raspon krila i duljinu trupa. Obojica su nudili istu brzinu, domet, nosivost, no Tu-4 je nudio nešto višu gornju granicu usluge.

Prva serija Tu-4 proizvedena je 1947. godine, a prvi put je poletjela 19. svibnja 1947. Do 1952. godine Sovjetski Savez je imao 850 bombardera, a iskustvo stečeno tijekom procesa kopiranja i proizvodnje pomoglo je Sovjetskom Savezu da lansira svoj strateški program bombardera.


Boeing B-29 Superfortress Varijante

Tijekom Drugog svjetskog rata proizvedena su tri modela Superfortress: B-29, B-20A i B-29B.

Nakon rata, B-29 su prilagođeni za nekoliko funkcija, uključujući punjenje gorivom tijekom leta kao KB-29, protupodmornička patrola, izviđačka verzija RB-29, vremensko izviđanje WB-29 i spasilačka dužnost.

Zračni tanker KB-29

Razvijene su i proizvedene dvije inačice tankera: KB-29M i KB-29P. B-29 je igrao važnu ulogu u razvoju učinkovite uporabe goriva iz zraka tijekom kasnih 1940-ih. Prvi zrakoplov proizveden za punjenje goriva iz zraka bio je KB-29M cisterna koja je koristila pristup sa fleksibilnim crijevom.

U KB-29P korišten je profinjeniji sustav koji uključuje kruti sustav letećih nosača. Grana je postavljena na krajnji kraj KB-29P i imala je dva mala krila. Ovaj pristup kasnije će se koristiti u drugim tankerima zračnih snaga, uključujući KB-50, KC-97, KC-135 i KC-10.

Izviđački zrakoplovi RB-29 i F-13 Superfortress

Verzija foto-izviđanja B-29 izvorno je označena kao F-13 Supertvrđava. 1944. godine F-13 postao je prvi američki avion koji je preletio Tokio od travnja 1942. godine.

Ukupno je 118 zrakoplova B-29 rekonfigurirano za fotorad. 1948. F-13 su preimenovane u RB-29 ili RB-29A.

Zrakoplovi za praćenje vremena WB-29

The WB-29s bili su proizvodni zrakoplovi modificirani za obavljanje misija praćenja vremena. Iznad središnjeg dijela trupa ugrađen je promatrački položaj. Izveli su standardne letove za prikupljanje podataka, uključujući iz Engleske iznad Atlantskog oceana, ali su također korišteni za prikupljanje vremenskih podataka o uraganima.

Kao najveći zrakoplov zračnih snaga 1950. godine, WB-29 je postao prvi zrakoplov koji je dobio oznaku & quotW & quot za vremensku službu. 53. eskadrila za izviđanje vremena postigla je mnoge uspjehe sa Superfortressom. Na primjer, 1946. prvi je uletio na vrh uragana na 22.000 stopa (s vrhovima oblaka na 36.000 stopa).

TB-29 Vježbeni zrakoplovi

The TB-29 je trenažna verzija B-29 koja se koristila za obuku creswa za bombardiranje. Ostali TB-29 korišteni su za vuču ciljeva.

B-29 Superfortress & quotSrebrne ploče & quot

Tijekom Drugog svjetskog rata, 509. kompozitna grupa uključeno 15 B-29 s posebnim modifikacijama "srebrne ploče" i 1800 ljudi. The Srebrna ploča B-29s je imao modifikacije potrebne za isporuku atomskog oružja, što je uključivalo opsežno modificiranu bombu s pneumatskim vratima, posebne pogone, modificirane motore i brisanje zaštitnog oklopa i kupola topova.

XB-39 Superfortress

The XB-39 Superfortress je imao za cilj dokazati da bi B-29 mogao uspješno funkcionirati ako prvi izbor motora, zračno hlađeni radijski motor Wright R-3350, naiđe na poteškoće u razvoju ili proizvodnji. XB-39 bi bio opremljen Allison V-3420-17 tekućim hlađenjem W24 linijskim motorima.

Projektni ispitni ležaj bio je YB-29, S/N 41-36954, prebačen je u studenom 1943. u Odjel za razvoj zrakoplova Fisher Body General Motorsa kako bi bio opremljen Allison motorima.

Prvi let B-39 napravljen je 9. prosinca 1944. u Clevelandu, Ohio. Početni letački testovi B-39 bili su impresivni. Međutim, B-29 u službi radili su na razini koja čini da se XB-39 ne isplati. Slijedom toga, projekt B-39 je otkazan i nisu izgrađene druge vrste.

XB-44 Superfortress

Pratt i Whitney dobili su B-29A S/N 42-93845 za ispitivanje snažnijih radijalnih motora R-4360. Ovaj zrakoplov bio je poznat kao XB-44, a kasnije kao B-29D.

Kako bi se osiguralo financiranje novog zrakoplova, a zbog velikog broja izmjena zrakoplova iz B-29, oznaka je kasnije promijenjena iz B-29D u B-50.

B-50 Supertvrđava

Kasnija varijanta B-29, B-50 učinio je to prvi let 1947., izvorno nazvan B-29D. Essentially an improved version of the B-29, this aircraft's large number of modifications caused its redesignation as the B-50.

The B-50 was configured with more powerful Pratt & Whitney radial engines than the B-29, a stronger structure, a taller fin, and other improvements.

Boeing B-54 Ultrafortress Strategic Bomber

The Boeing B-54 was a strategic bomber designed by Boeing for use by the United States Air Force. Derived from the YB-50C Superfortress, construction of the prototype was cancelled before completion, and the aircraft was never flown.

Boeing C-97 and Boeing 377

After the war Boeing developed the Model 367, a military transport airplane based on the B-29 Superfortress bomber. Its civilian counterpart was the Model 377 Stratocruiser.

The C-97 Stratofreighter had a double-lobe fuselage consisting of two intersecting circular sections, so that the 74-foot-long upper deck had a larger diameter.

The Boeing 377, also called the Stratocruiser, was a large long-range airliner built after World War II. It was developed from the C-97 Stratofreighter.

Tupolev Tu-4

The Tupolev Tu-4 is a reversed-engineered variant of the Boeing B-29. Using B-29s which made emergency landings in the Soviet territory, Tupolev engineers designed and built a clone of the B-29, with its first flight in May of 1947.


The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was a four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber that was flown by the United States Military in World War II and the Korean War. The B-29 is one of our favorite models.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress WWII Heavy Bomber

The X-1 Rocket and the "Fat Man" Atom Bomb Models carried by the B-29 are included with the B-29 Download!


The Boeing B-29 was designed in 1940 as an eventual replacement for the B-17 and B-24. The first one built made its maiden flight on September 21, 1942. In December 1943 it was decided not to use the B-29 in the European Theater, thereby permitting the airplane to be sent to the Pacific area where its great range made it particularly suited for the long over-water flight required to attack the Japanese homeland from bases in China. During the last two months of 1944, B-29s began operating against Japan from the islands of Saipan, Guam and Tinian.


The B-29 had many new features, including guns that could be fired by remote control. The crew areas were pressurized and connected by a long tube over the bomb bays. The tail gunner had a separate pressurized area that could only be left during un pressurized flight. The B-29 was also the heaviest production plane because of increases in range, bomb load and defensive requirements.


By the end of the World War II, the Boeing Wichita plant had built 1,644 B-29s, nearly 65 percent of the total produced during the war.
The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) has now grounded FIFI, who used to tour --last in Wichita about 4 years ago. She was coming back in Sept 0f '01, but you-know-what grounded everything but the geese. The FIFI pilots are hopefully going to pilot, and train pilots, for DOC. Those committed to preservation pull together!

Hey chip: You folks at FG just keep trying to out-do yourselves. Now we modelers are going to have to build the B-36, b-17 and B-29 all in the same scale. My wife said, and I quote " You had better finish the model room in the storage shed. You're NOT hanging those three from the bedroom ceiling!" Oh well, keep up the good work! Dave (10/03)

On the B-29, All I can say is WOW! Caramba, Cowabongas! (10/03)

How VERY nice! This is one that was worth the wait! Bravo, Bravo, Bravissimo! (10/03)

Thanks Chip & Crew, for two differing but excellent aircraft in their own right - l love the 'planes from the inter war era. The B 29 will be an excellent project for any spare time over Christmas! Phil Wilkinson (10/03)

Vau! Thanks - and thanks for the Russian Tu-4 markings. Discovery-Wings channel did an episode on the Tu-4. Enola is "alone" spelled backwards. Yes, it was his mother's name, but it makes you wonder. Thanks again, John

WAAAYY TO GO CHIP & GANG! wm

Chip and Crew, Thanks again for such a wonderful creation! The way you guys are pumping out these fantastic models I will have to put on a major house extension to display these little beauties. Regards, Louis Rizzo Urbanform Designs P/

We are DEFINITELY havin' fun.. Steve B. MD

The model looks great I will start building it as you read this. Lucas Hidding Holland

Guys, Great kits, I never thought I would see a B-17 or B-29 paper kit. I do enjoy the era of wood and fabric. Have you ever considered making a Dragon Rapide, Handley Page 400, De Havilland DH-4, or the French Voison? So much paper, so little time. Thanks JW

I'm pretty excited about this model my Dad worked on these planes and I'm going to surprise him with my rendition. Paul Berger

Hi Chip! You guys are super. I'm always eagerly awaiting whatever's next. You ought to see my office..Thanks, and best regards, Bob F

I downloaded the B-29. WOW !! So glad I put the plastic modeling to one side, who needs it when there are beauties like this to be had? Derek

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was an American four-engine heavy bomber, and easily the largest aircraft of World War II. It was the primary US strike weapon against Japan and continued to serve long after the war was over.

Boeing began planning for a very large, long range bomber in 1938, an aircraft far larger and more ambitious than any yet built. It was a very ambitious project - too ambitious, some felt - but it was not the first time Boeing had tried to build a giant bomber. Their B-17 had been an equally ambitious design when it was first planned in 1934, and its development had been long and troubled. Nevertheless, Boeing offered its design study for a still more advanced pressurized development of the B-17 to the United States Army Air Corps in 1938 and, though there was no immediate interest, they were encouraged to keep working on it.

In January 1940, with the B-17 just entering service and the bigger Consolidated B-24 still more than a year away, the Air Corps issued a request for proposals for a much larger bomber, which was to have the range for operation over the Pacific - it being understood that war with Japan was all but inevitable. Four firms submitted design studies, but Douglas and Lockheed soon withdrew. In September 1940 Boeing and Consolidated were awarded development contracts for the XB-29 and the XB-32.

The Boeing B-29 was designed in 1940 as an eventual replacement for the B-17 and B-24. The first one built made its maiden flight on September 21, 1942. In December 1943 it was decided not to use the B-29 in the European Theater, thereby permitting the airplane to be sent to the Pacific area where its great range made it particularly suited for the long over-water flight required to attack the Japanese homeland from bases in China. During the last two months of 1944, B-29s began operating against Japan from the islands of Saipan, Guam and Tinian.

The B-29 had many new features, including guns that could be fired by remote control. The crew areas were pressurized and connected by a long tube over the bomb bays. The tail gunner had a separate pressurized area that could only be left during un pressurized flight. The B-29 was also the heaviest production plane because of increases in range, bomb load and defensive requirements.

By the standards of the day, it was an enormous airplane: 30m long, a 43m wingspan, over 32 tonnes empty, and when fully loaded almost 63 tonnes. For range, the mid-set wings had a high aspect ratio, and to keep the landing speed within reason, large Fowler flaps were fitted. Three separate pressurized crew compartments were provided: one in the nose, a second one just aft of the wing for gunners, and a third, isolated one for the tail gunner. Rather than fit traditional bulky manned gun turrets, Boeing used small, remote control units (which were to give endless trouble in the early years).

The manufacturing task was immense, involving four main factories at Renton, Wichita (both Boeing plants), Marietta (Bell) and Omaha (Martin), and thousands of sub-contractors.

Boeing built a total of 2,766 B-29s at plants in Wichita, Kansas, (previously the Stearman Aircraft Co., bought by Boeing in 1929) and in Renton, Washington. The Bell Aircraft Co. built 668 of the giant bombers in Georgia, and the Glenn L. Martin Co. built 536 in Nebraska. Production ended in 1946.

Perhaps the most recognized B-29 is the "Enola Gay", which dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. The "Bockscar", also a B-29, dropped another nuclear weapon on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Shortly thereafter, Japan surrendered.

The Soviet Air Force's Tupolev Tu-4 was a bolt-for-bolt copy of the B-29, first widely revealed to the world audience in August of 1947.

After the war, B-29s were adapted for several functions, including in-flight refueling, anti-submarine patrol, weather reconnaissance, and rescue duty. The B-29 saw military service again in Korea between 1950 and 1953, battling new adversaries: jet fighters and electronic weapons. The last B-29 in squadron use retired from service in September 1960.

With the advent of the conflict in Korea in June 1950, the B-29 was once again thrust into battle. For the next several years it was effectively used for attacking targets in North Korea.

The B-29 was soon made obsolete by the development of the jet engine and was replaced in the early 1950s by the Convair B-58 "Hustler", the Boeing B-47 "Stratojet", and eventually, the Boeing B-52 "Stratofortress".

As of August, 2003, the only B-29 in the world which is still airworthy is the Confederate Air Force's "Fifi." However, work is actively proceeding at the Boeing plant in Witchita, Kansas on restoring a B-29 named "Doc," and the airplane is expected to fly in 2004. Also, the United States Air Force Museum at the old Wright-Patterson Air Force base is considering restoring "Bock's Car" to airworthy condition it is presently restored as a static display. In addition, the Smithsonian has not decided whether to restore "Enola Gay" as a static display or to bring the airplane back to flight status.

The B-29A was the version of the Superfortress built by Boeing at the Navy-owned Renton plant. The B-29A was essentially the same as the B-29, differing from the B-29 primarily in the wing structure. The B-29 employed a two-piece wing center section that was bolted together at the center line and which was installed as a single unit passing entirely through the fuselage and supporting the engine nacelles. The B-29A used a very short stub center section that projected only a very short distance beyond the fuselage sides. Each pair of engine nacelles was fitted to a separate short section of wing. The outer wing panels attached at the same point on B-29s and B-29As alike. This change gave the B-29A an additional foot of wingspan as compared to the B-29.

The B-29A was powered by four R-3350-57 engines. 1119 B-29As were built, block numbers reaching -75. The 20-mm cannon was removed from the tail turret beginning with production Block 20, and a pair of 0.50-inch guns were added to the top forward turret to provide additional protection against fighter attacks coming from the front.

Revised engine nacelles were developed and tested and were to be used on late-model B-29As. These engine nacelles had the oil coolers and inter coolers moved further aft, which gave them a "chinless" appearance. Because of this chinless appearance, these nacelles became known by the nickname "Andy Gump", who was a famous cartoon character of the period.

Some early B-29As were fitted with pneumatically-operated bomb-bay doors which could be snapped shut in less than a second. The normal hydraulic doors took seven seconds to close. By early 1945, all B-29s were being manufactured with pneumatic doors as a standard fit.

The B-29 had always been somewhat underpowered for its weight, and in search of more power, one B-29A (42-93845) was handed over to Pratt & Whitney for conversion as a testbed for the four-row 28-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-4360 air-cooled radial engine. This aircraft was later re designated XB-44, and was readily recognizable by the new engine installation, with the oil cooler intake pulled further back on the lower part of the nacelle. The aircraft had been initially ordered into production as the B-29D, but all contracts were cancelled at the end of the war. However, the B-29D project was later reinstated as B-50A.

The A-Bombs used over Japan Little Boy (left) and Fat Man (right)

Just three days after the bomb was dropped to Hiroshima, the second atomic bomb called "Fat Man" was dropped to Nagasaki. Though the amount of energy generated by the bomb dropped to Nagasaki was significantly larger than that of the Little Boy, the damage given to the city was slighter than that given to Hiroshima due to the geographic structure of the city. It is estimated that approximately 70,000 people died by the end of the year because of the bombing.

The volunteers who participated in this project, strongly believe that the world must learn about weapons of total destruction. We hope that the information presented here will help you understand the pain and devastation that nuclear weapons can cause. We don't want you to just feel sorry for the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the war inflicted untold pain and suffering on many people in Asia and the Pacific. Rather we want you to work with us to ensure that all of us can live in a safe world.

We hope this document helps you understand what it was and what it means.


Crew: 10
Span: 141 ft. 3 in.
Length: 99 ft. 0 in.
Height: 27 ft. 9 in.
Weight: 133,500 lbs. maks.

Naoružanje
Eight .50-cal. machine guns in remote controlled turrets
Two .50-cal. machine guns and one 20mm cannon in tail
20,000 lbs. of bombs
Engines: Four Wright R-3350s of 2,200 hp. ea.

Izvođenje
Maximum speed: 357 mph.
Cruising speed: 220 mph.
Range: 3,700 miles
Service Ceiling: 33,600 ft.


A Tribute to the Great Boeing B-29 Superfortress

This website is a tribute to the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, and to the people who designed, built, flew, and serviced these aircraft.


"Enola Gay" parked on tarmac after the Hiroshima atomic bomb flight

We provide first-hand commentary, specifications, history and original photographs of the Superfortress.

Boeing began work on a pressurized long-range bomber in 1938. In December 1939, the Army Air Corps issued a formal specification for a so called "superbomber", capable of delivering 20,000 lbs of bombs to a target 2,667 miles distant, at a speed of 400 mph.

The B-29 was one of the most advanced bombers of its time, featuring innovations such as a pressurized cabin, a central fire-control system, and remote-controlled machine gun turrets.

As part of the World War II military buildup, 3,970 B-29s were built during production at four assembly plants across the United States.

Read about the B-29's role in World War II and Korea, the bomber's development, production and deployment.

Explore our coverage of the B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay" and its role in dropping the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Days later, the B-29 "Bockscar" dropped the second bomb, on Nagasaki.


Left fuselage view of the Boeing WB-50D, S/N 49-0310 (staff photo)

After World War II, many of the existing B-29 aircraft were sent for storage, and ultimately scrapping at aircraft storage and disposal facilities around the U.S.

The remaining B-29s helped build the initial bomber inventory of the Strategic Air Command when it was formed in March of 1946. Many served during the Korean War and as KB-29 aerial tankers during the 1950s.

A later variant of the B-29 was the B-50 Superfortress which featured more powerful Pratt & Whitney radial engines, a stronger structure, a taller fin, and other improvements.

Only 22 complete B-29 airframes are currently on display in the United States. We've had the privilege of seeing, and photographing, 16 of these, and have on this website a list of surviving B-29 Superfortresses, photographs and locations. These surviving bombers provide us a first-hand, up-close opportunity to appreciate the size and power of these aircraft.

Continued Evolution of This Aviation Website Series

We launched Planes of the Past in 2012, which over time grew into a large site covering a variety of aviation-related topics. In 2015, we split the website into more focused topics based on our viewers' interests. Now we offer the following websites:


Boeing B-29 Superfortress

Boeing B-29 Superfortress (Boeing Model 341/345) on Yhdysvaltain armeijan ilmavoimien (USAAF, US Army Air Forces, USAF:in edeltäjä) käyttämä nelimoottorinen raskas pommikone.

B-29 Supertvrđava

USAAFin B-29 Superfortress.
Tyyppi strateginen pommikone
Alkuperämaa Yhdysvallat
Valmistaja Boeing
Ensilento 21. syyskuuta 1942 [1]
Esitelty 8. toukokuuta 1944 [2]
Poistettu käytöstä 21. kesäkuuta 1960
Status 1 lentokuntoinen, 1 restauroitavana, useita museoissa
Pääkäyttäjät USAAF
USAF
RAF
Valmistusmäärä 3 970
Valmistusvuodet 1943–1946 [3]
Yksikköhinta 639 188 USD [4]
Muunnelmat KB-29 Superfortress
XB-39 Superfortress
Boeing XB-44 Superfortress
Boeing B-50 Superfortress
Boeing 377 Stratocruiser
Tupolev Tu-4
Info okvir OK

Konetyyppi kehitettiin edelleen B-17 Flying Fortress -tyypistä. Kehitystyö kohtasi ongelmia, sillä B-29:ää pidettiin hankalana lennettävänä. Lisäksi moottorit saattoivat syttyä tuleen kesken lennon. Koelentäjä Edmund "Eddie" T. Allen sai surmansa, sekä samalla koko 11 hengen miehistön kaikki jäsenet menetettiin Wichitan eteläpuolella lento-onnettomuudessa, missä koelentokone törmäsi teollisuuskiinteistöön jossa menehtyi 18 henkeä. [5]

B-29 oli toisen maailmansodan suurin ja kehittynein aktiivipalveluksessa ollut kone, jossa oli muun muassa ensimmäisenä pommikoneena paineistetut miehistötilat, erittäin kehittynyt Norden M-9B -pommitustähtäin [6] ja keskitetty konekiväärien tulenjohtojärjestelmä, johon kuului muun muassa sähköinen laskin. Konekiväärit olivat kauko-ohjatuissa torneissa, joissa oli kaksi 12,7 mm Browning M2 -konekivääriä, ja lisäksi perän tornissa oli 20 mm tykki. Alun perin se oli tarkoitettu pääasiassa korkean lentokorkeuden päiväpommittajaksi, mutta sitä käytettiin useimmiten matalan lentokorkeuden yöpommittajana. B-29 toimi Yhdysvaltain pääasiallisena hyökkäysaseena Japania vastaan ja onkin tunnettu Hiroshiman ja Nagasakin atomipommien kuljettajana. Kone oli ainoa USAAF:in konetyyppi, B-32 Dominatoria lukuun ottamatta, joka pystyi kuljettamaan melkein 4 600 kiloa painavan pommin.

B-29 pystyi lentämään niin korkealla (yli 9 300 m) ja nopeasti (huippunopeus 574 km/h) [2] että suurin osa japanilaisista hävittäjäkoneista ei pystynyt saamaan sitä kiinni, joten se ei usein edes tarvinnut järeää puolustusaseistustaan. Tämän vuoksi ydinpommittajiksi varustetuista koneista riisuttiin koneen keventämiseksi aseistus pyrstöaseita lukuun ottamatta.

B-29 pysyi käytössä vielä pitkään toisen maailmansodan jälkeenkin. Sitä käytettiin rakettimoottorein varustettujen koekoneiden, muun muassa X-1:n ja Douglas Skyrocketin kuljettamiseen noin 12 kilometrin korkeuteen, missä koekone irrotettiin pommittajan erityisesti tarkoitukseen muutetusta pommikuilusta ja jatkoi lentoaan omin voimin. Tässä tehtävässä jotkut näistä muutetuista koneista varustettiin laitteistolla, jolla koekoneet saattoi tankata ennen lähtöä: vaikka ne tankattiin kentällä, herkästi haihtuva nestehappi tahtoi kiehua ja siis poistua käytöstä sen noin tunnin aikana, joka kului koneyhdistelmän kohotessa lähtökorkeuteen.

Kun B-29 poistui käytöstä 1960-luvulla, yhteensä noin 3 900 konetta oli rakennettu. Kone oli erittäin kallis rakentaa. Se maksoi 300 000 dollaria aikana, jolloin hyvän hotellihuoneen sai kolmella dollarilla yö. On laskettu, että sillä alumiinimäärällä, mikä kului yhden Superfortressin rakentamiseen, olisi voitu rakentaa laivueellinen (16 kpl) P-51 Mustangeja.

Lentokonetyyppiä käytettiin myös tiedustelukone RB-29:nä vielä toisen maailmansodan jälkeen 1950-luvulla. Neuvostoliitto kehitti kolmesta haltuunsa joutuneesta B-29:stä itselleen vuoteen 1947 mennessä Tupolev Tu-4:n strategiseksi pommikoneekseen. Tupolev Tu-4:ää käyttivät Neuvostoliiton ilmavoimien lisäksi myös Kansan vapautusarmeijan ilmavoimat Kiinan kansantasavallassa.

Koneesta kehitettiin myöhemmin siviiliversio Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, jossa oli kaksikerroksinen runko. Stratocruiserista tuli suihkukoneiden tuloon asti hyvin suosittu pitkillä lentolinjoilla. Kuljetuskonemuunnoksen tyyppimerkintä oli C-97 ja siitä kehitettiin erikseen ilmatankkausmuunnelma KC-97, joka palveli siihen asti kunnes Boeing 707 -koneesta kehitetyt KC-135 Stratotanker -tankkerit tulivat palveluskäyttöön.


Historic Lake Mead B-29

While the plane is mostly known for its function as a heavy bomber used during World War II, the Lake Mead B-29 was used for science.

Susan Edwards, a research archaeologist and historian from Desert Research Institute, said the B-29 was destined for storage until Dr. Carl Anderson, a professor of physics and Nobel Laureate, proposed using the B-29 for cosmic research.

After the war, he requested one B-29 from the Army Air Force. His request went up the chain, and the Department of Defense agreed to give him three B-29s. Project APOLLO, the High Altitude Flying Laboratory Program was approved.

“The missions weren’t classified,” Edwards said, “but what they were going to do with the research was. High-energy particle physics research clearly dominated the B-29 flights, but a wide variety of other upper atmospheric research experiments were interspersed between the cosmic ray studies. The program was really important.”

“It had a protocol that day,” she said. “It had to start at a low altitude and ascend 500 feet a minute and collect readings. At 30,000 feet, it descended at 500 feet a minute. It was a protocol they had done multiple times before.”

The Crash

At 9:51 a.m. July 21, 1948, a B-29 Superfortress, weighing in at 104,556 pounds, took off from China Lake, California. It traveled to a test area near Lake Mead to conduct high-altitude atmospheric research.

After the last measurements were taken, the pilot took the plane a little lower. Both the pilot and co-pilot thought they were around 400 feet above the lake’s surface, but the altimeter was reportedly off. Around 12:30 p.m. traveling at 230 miles per hour, the B-29 struck the water.

Capt. Robert M. Madison, 1st Lt. Paul M. Hesler, Staff Sgt. David D. Burns and John W. Simeroth escaped and climbed along the spine of the plane and inflated two life rafts. Narednik Frank A. Rico was still inside. Madison and Simeroth pulled him from the back of the plane out through the co-pilot’s window.

They all climbed aboard the life rafts and watched the plane slip below the surface of the lake.

After two hours in the water, Edwards said the crew was able to signal a civilian aircraft flying overhead. Its pilot saw the rafts and reported it. The National Park Service dispatched rescue crews.

By 6:15 p.m., all men were off the water and in Boulder City.

The Discovery

Fo r decades, finding the plane proved to be quite a challenge. The National Park Service knew the general area where the plane crashed, but it rested a couple hundred feet underwater.

In 2000, a private dive team discovered the wreck, using a side-scan sonar - a device that is prohibited in the park without a permit. The group dove on the plane in 2001 and illegally removed artifacts from the site.

With the location of the plane in a national park it was now a national cultural resource that required protection by law. Therefore, the artifacts were returned to the park service.

The exact location was still unclear to the park service until 2002 when Mark Sappington, a park employee, worked with the Bureau of Reclamation to reprocess existing map data of the area when an outline of a plane appeared.

Fifty-five years after it crashed, the park service dropped an underwater camera at the mapped location and found the plane. It was found that there were ropes and lights from previous un-authorized dives and parts of the aircraft were missing due to looting.

In 2003, the park sponsored a team of technical divers to survey the wreckage. Since the aircraft was now at almost 300 feet below the surface (water levels fluctuated year to year) and that required special diving equipment and back-up systems.

During a special event to commemorate the Lake Mead B-29, Submerged Resources Center Chief Dave Conlin recalled that first dive.

He said his crew had to undergo new training and obtain new equipment for a dive this complex. It involved breathing a mixed air that included helium.

“The first time I dove on that plane, I was terrified. We went down and down and down and down and suddenly, there was a plane,” he said. “The lights went on, and it looked like a spaceship. It was in incredible condition.”

At the end of the dive, his team had a map of the area and a better idea of what happened when the plane crashed.

The number two engine hit the water and flipped up under the wing and hit the tail. Then, the number three and four engines hit the water. The number one engine caught fire, and the tail cone broke off.

Conlin said all of the crew members escaped the B-29 before it sunk and hit the bottom nose first.

Protecting the B-29

Following the crash, the plane was recommended for salvage, but the recommendation was canceled Feb. 18, 1949. As an agency dedicated to the preservation of America’s resources, the National Park Service now serves as the custodian of the Lake Mead B-29.

Because the Lake Mead B-29 is such a unique, significant resource, the National Park Service balances recreational access with protection.

Over the next 100 years, the park wants new visitors to be able to experience this moment in history.

Diving on the B-29

2002: Due to the damage and looting discovered at the site diving on the B-29 was banned.

2007-2008: After National Park Service divers conducted a thorough assessment of the plane and crash site, it was opened to limited permitted diving. Commercial tours were provided by Scuba Training and Technology Inc. and Xtreme Scuba.

2009-2014: The B-29 site was closed for public diving while the park service assessed the plane's conditions and reviewed the terms of the permit to help make it more economically viable for businesses.

2015-2017: Commercial tours were provided by Scuba Training and Technology Inc.

2018-2020: The park took a pause in permitted diving to further assess the plane's condition.

2020-2022: Commercial tours are now available through Las Vegas Scuba, LLC and Scuba Training and Technology Inc. Water levels fluctuate at Lake Mead, but the plane usually rests at depths that place it in a technical dive category.

There are many other diving experiences open to the public at Lake Mead, including an aggregate plant and other submerged planes, boats and vehicles.


T Square 45: A B-29 Bomber Returns to its Former Glory

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress T Square 54 shines on static display at Seattle’s Museum of Flight.

The Seattle Museum of Flight’s meticulous B-29 restoration has returned most of the veteran bomber’s controls to working order.

Given its location on historic Boeing Field, it’s not surprising that Seattle’s Museum of Flight exhibits a wide variety of Boeing aircraft. Among its latest restorations is another Boeing product, a combat-veteran B-29 Superfortress. The shiny new bomber, serial no. 44-69729, rolled out of the Boeing plant in Wichita, Kan., on New Year’s Day 1945. Accepted by the U.S. Army Air Forces on January 4, the new Superfortress had its “address” prominently displayed on the broad, tall vertical stabilizer: a black “T” for the 498th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) above a square for the 73rd Bomb Wing and the number 54 as the 54th aircraft assigned to the 875th Squadron.

T Square 54’s first mission, on the night of March 9-10, was a low-level incendiary raid on Tokyo that burned 16 square miles of the city and marked a change in tactics for the Twentieth Air Force bombers. Over the next several weeks T54 flew missions over Osaka, Kobe and Nagoya to mark targets in advance of the main bomber stream and participated in attacks. During a May 23 night raid, an anti-aircraft shell set the no. 1 engine on fire, but the B-29 made it back on the other three. On August 8, while the radioactive fires were still burning in Hiroshima, T54 flew its 37th and final mission to industrial targets in Yawata.


T Square 54 drops its payload during one of 37 combat missions it flew over Japan in 1945. (The Museum of Flight)

During the Cold War the veteran bomber was sent back to Boeing’s Wichita plant for conversion as a KB-29 aerial tanker. At Biggs Air Force Base in Texas, no. 729 was part of Strategic Air Command’s 95th Bomb Wing, flying missions to the UK. In 1956, after 11 years of service, it was finally retired from the Air Force and given to the Navy.

Transported to the Weap­ons Testing Center at Naval Air Station China Lake, high in the California desert, 729 joined several other B-29s as bombing targets for naval aviators. They had little luck in hitting the old veteran. In the 1970s the Air Force, realizing there were few Superfortresses left, ordered a stop to using them as targets. By the early 1980s 729 was among the last salvageable wartime B-29s left. In 1986 the dilapidated bomber was trucked in pieces to Lowry Air Force Base in Colorado, where it underwent its first restoration.

In 1993, with Lowry designated for closure, the Museum of Flight began negotiations aimed at restoring 729 to its original appearance. Retired AT&T engineer Dale Thompson eventually oversaw the project.

Thompson said the bomber was in bad shape when Lowry first received it. “The aluminum skin was very weathered, some of the windows were broken, so the desert dust had blown in and covered everything,” he noted. “The tires were all flat and cracked. The engines were frozen, with pools of solid oil in the nacelles. All the wiring and cabling was gone or degraded. The wartime bombing equipment was gone, replaced by the air tanker gear. The control surfaces are fabric over an aluminum frame, and after all those years sitting in the sun at China Lake they were nothing more than shreds.”


A view of the command pilot’s position and working Norden bombsight. (The Museum of Flight)

Lowry restored the exterior and repaired the damage, but what Thompson and his team faced was far more daunting. The Superfortress was in effect a huge metal jigsaw puzzle with dozens of missing pieces, some of which no longer existed. Rare wartime armament, radar, navigation, communications and bombing equipment had to be found or machined from original 1944 specifications. All four engines had to be stripped down and rebuilt, along with the hydraulics, instruments, flight controls, and oxygen and interphone systems.

Several hundred volunteers gave their time to the old bomber. “We had ex-USAF personnel, people who worked at Boeing and a lot of folks who just offered their time and effort,” reported Thompson. Boeing opened their archives to the project, allowing the team to copy any drawings, diagrams and photos they needed.

“The cockpit is about 90 percent complete,” said Thompson. “During the war the inner skin was just bare aluminum, but at all the crew stations it was insulated and covered with cotton fabric. All the cotton fabric is in place now. The tunnel through the bomb bay is lined too. We have the Norden bombsight and it actually works. We had it running and even an hour after it was turned off, the gyros were still spinning. Beautiful machinery. It looks brand-new.


A look at the flight engineer’s station, which is situated just aft of the copilot facing backward. (The Museum of Flight)

“We had machinists who custom-made parts from original Boeing drawings. Syd Baker built bomb racks from scratch in his garage. All the instrument panels and labels are there, and their surfaces have been done with the proper black finish. It looks absolutely new.

“The control cabling has been replaced,” continued Thompson. “The pulleys and guides are perfect and they operate the control surfaces. The command radios do work. Some licensed ham operators were on the team. We had two wartime pilots in the B-17 and B-29 and told them to talk and simulate a mission. They were so happy to use those radios again.”

Thompson said the team worked a deal with Travis Air Force Base to wrangle up some critical parts. “It’s the only B-29 in the world where all five turrets work,” he proudly noted. “We invited a B-29 gunner to come on board. He settled into his old seat at the gunsight and said, ‘I wish I could fire these babies again.’ So I told him, ‘Go ahead. It works.’ This guy takes the handgrips and twists it around. The turret turns and the guns elevate. He was overjoyed, just like a kid. Then I told him to fire the guns. He did, and this chattering roar made him jump,” Thompson laughed. “We had this recorded sound of the .50s firing when he pulled the trigger. He was smiling from ear to ear.”

Today the revitalized veteran bomber is on display in the museum’s Aviation Pavilion. You can take a 360-degree virtual tour of the B-29’s immaculate interior at museumofflight.org.

This article appeared in the January 2021 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe click here!


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