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Boeing B-29 Superfortress

Origin: Boeing Airplane Company, Seattle, Renton, and Wichita; also built by Bell Aircraft, Marietta and Glenn L. Martin Company, Omaha.
Type:High-altitude heavy bomber, with crew of 10-14
Engines: Four 2,200 hp Wright R-3350-23 Duplex Cyclone 18-cylinder radials each with two exhaust-dr iven turbochargers.
Dimensions:Span 141ft 3in (43.05m); length 99ft (30.2m); height 27ft 9in (8.46 m)
Weight: Empty 74,500lb (33.795kg); loaded 135,000lb (61,240kg).
Performance: Maximum speed 357mph (575km/h) at 30,000ft (9144 m). cruising speed 290mph (467kn/h); climb to 25,000ft (7620m) in 43m; service ceiling 36,000ft (10,973m); randge with 10,000lb (4540kg) bombs 3,250 miles(5230km).
Armament: Four GE twin 0.50in turrets above and below sighted from nose or three waist sighting stations; Bell tail turret, with own gunner, with one 20mm cannon and twin 0.50in; internal bomb load up to 20,000lb (9072 kg).

Carried first two nuclear bombs.

With modifications carried two 22,000lb British bombs externally under inner wings.
History: First flight 21 September 1942.
User: US (AAF,Navy)

Development and mass production of the B-29 the Boeing model 345, was one of the biggest tasks in the history of aviation. It began with a March 1938 study for a new bomber with pressurised cabin and tricycle landing gear. This evolved into 345 and in August 1940 money was voted for two prototypes. In January 1942 the Army Air Force ordered 14 YB-29s and 500 production aircraft. By February while Boeing engineers worked night and day on the huge technical problems a production organization was setup involving Boeing, Bell, North American and Fisher (General Motors). Martin came in later and by VJ-day more than 3,000 Superforts had been delivered. This was a fantastic achievement because each represented five or six times the technical effort of any earlier bomber. In engine power, gross weight, wing loading, pressurisation, armament, airborne systems and even basic structure the B-29 set a wholly new standard.

First combat mission was flown by the 58th Bomb Wing on 5 June 1944, and by 1945 20 groups from the Marianas were sending 500 B-29s at a time to flatten and burn Japan's cities. (Three aircraft made emergency landings in Soviet territory, and Tupolev's design bureau put the designs into production as Tu-4 bomber and Tu-70 transport). The 29C had all guns except those in the tail removed, increasing speed and altitude. After the war there were 19 variants of B-29, not including the Washington B.I. supplied to help the RAF in 1950-58.

Adapted from An Illustrated Guide to Bombers of World War II

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