The B-29

Sometime in the early morning hours of 1944, another B-29 is born at Wichita, Kansas

In 1942, the B-29 looked like something straight out of the pages of Tom Swift. On paper, the B-29 was a technological marvel:

  • The B-29 could fly farther and carry more bombs than any other U.S. bomber.
  • The B-29 was so aerodynamically clean that merely lowering the wheels doubled the drag.
  • The B-29 was completely pressurized, so that the crew did not have to wear oxygen masks.
  • The B-29 was capable of operating at altitudes of 30,000-40,000 ft.
  • The fire control system allowed coordinated defense against enemy fighters.
  • The "plexiglass cockpit" provided the pilots with excellent visibility.

The Army designed the B-29 to fulfill the American philosophy, developed in Europe, of using high altitude daylight precision bombing. However, the jet stream over Japan limited the effectiveness of this tactic. Consequently, the B-29 was used in missions for which she was not intended, including low altitude night area bombing and low altitude mining operations. That she eventually succeeded at all of these things is a testament to the aircraft and to the tenacity of the men and women who designed, built, fixed and flew her.