posted by Jiri Wagner
Designed as a replacement for the B-17 and B-24, the B-29 was considered the ultimate bomber of World War II. An extremely complex airplane, it introduced such concepts as pressurization and remotely controlled gun turrets, and its severe development troubles led to a delay in service introduction.
In December 1943, the Air Force decided not to use the B-29 in Europe but to put its great range to use in the Pacific. The first B-29 unit, the 58th Bomb Wing (VH), was established in Marietta, Ga., on June 15, 1943. The first B- 29 raid against Japan came on June 15, 1944. B-29s from the 509th Composite Group dropped the only nuclear weapons ever used in wartime.
The USSR copied it as the Tu-4 and Tu-70 (transport). The KB-29 was the tanker version of the B-29, the SB-29 the search & rescue version, carrying a lifeboat; the DB-29 was a drone controller, the TB-29 a trainer, the RB-29 a reconaissance aircraft. Some B-29s were also used as launch aircraft for research aircraft like the X-1 and X-2. After the war, B-29s were modified as the first aerial tankers in quantity. The remaining B-29s were sent into combat during the Korean War. After World War II, B-29s were used as "mother ships" for several of the Air Force's and Navy's high-speed experimental aircraft, such as the X- 1, X-2, and D-558.
In the late 1940s, a significantly modified version of the B-29 was developed and was designated B-50. One of the B-50s, nicknamed Lucky Lady II, completed the first nonstop flight around the world. Eventually, 370 B-50s were built and served as late as 1964.
|Primary function||High-altitude heavy bomber|
|Contractor||Boeing Airplane Company|
|Next builders||Bell Aircraft, Marietta, Glenn L. Martin|
|Power plant||Four Wrigth R-3350-23 Cyclone 18-cylinder twin-row radials engines|
|Thrust||4x 2,200 HP||4x 1,641 kW|
|Wingspan||141.2 ft||43.05 m|
|Length||99 ft||30.18 m|
|Height||27.8 ft||8.46 m|
|Wingarea||1,736 sq ft||161.27 sq m|
|Weight||empty||13,5011 lb||33,795 kg|
|max.||74,505 lb||61,240 kg|
|Speed||max.||357 mph||575 km/h|
|cruising||290 mph||467 km/h|
|Ceiling||36,000 ft||10,973 m|
|Range||3,250 miles||5,230 km|
|Armament||1x 20mm cannon, 12x 12.7mm machine gun; 9,072 kg bombs|
|First flight||September 21, 1942|