Superfortress file photo

B-29 Superfortress

CountryUnited States
ManufacturerBoeing
Primary RoleHeavy Bomber
Maiden Flight21 September 1942

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

The B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers were some of the largest aircraft in service during WW2. Equipped with four engines, they were not only powerful but also very advanced in design. They were equipped with fully pressurized fuselage, central fire control systems, and remotely controlled machine gun turrets. Aircraft this size and complexity were not easy to build, however. Four plants across the United States manufactured various components of the bombers, and sometimes bombers coming out of the factories were sent directly to depots for immediate modifications because of a recent design change. Although the complexity of the design caused a lot of production headaches, the issue that gave the design the biggest problem was the reliability of the Wright R-3350 engines. The engine constantly overheated and burned under stress, particularly during takeoffs, due to insufficient air flow. The problem was never completely resolved before the end of WW2.

In general, B-29 pilots like the flight characteristics of the bombers starting in the earlier models. The unboosted controls were heavy and requested strength to operate, but advanced instrumentation made flying and navigation easy. In fact, a B-29 pilot could fly entirely on instrumentation should the pilot choose to do so. In flight, the pilots called for engine and flap settings reminiscent of how a sea captain would call for engine and rudder settings.

In combat, although Superfortress bombers were not as heavily armored as other Allied bombers, they possessed one defense that no others could compete with. They were capable of flying at the altitude of 10,200m, just above the service ceiling of most Japanese fighters and just beyond the range of most anti-aircraft weapons. Their fast airspeed also made them difficult to intercept by fighters that could fly that high.

The B-29 bombers were initially based in India (starting Apr 1944) and China (starting Jun 1944), attacking Japanese targets in Thailand and the Pacific rim. On 15 Jun 1944, 47 B-29 bombers took off from Chengdu, China and attacked the Imperial Iron and Steel Works at Yawata, Japan, marking the first attack on the Japanese Home Islands since the Doolittle Raid in Apr 1942; one bomber was lost during this mission. A total of 12 such similar bombing missions from India or China on Japan took place before they were transferred to the newly captured/constructed airfields in the Mariana Islands. The first bombing mission from the Marianas took place on 28 Oct 1944 (against Truk), and within a month missions were launched for major Japanese cities such as the capital Tokyo. These firebombing raids by Superfortress bombers devastated the war making capabilities of Japan and demoralized the Japanese population. Among the last WW2 combat missions that employed B-29 bombers were the 6 Aug 1945 atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima by Enola Gay and the 9 Aug 1945 atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki by Bockscar.

In WW2, B-29 bombers were used exclusively by the United States Army Air Force in the Pacific Theater.

After the war, B-29 Superfortress bombers remained in service with the newly created United States Air Force through subsequent conflicts such as the Korean War. In that conflict, the changing nature of war reduced the number of strategic targets for B-29 bombers to strike and Soviet fighter innovations (namely, the MiG-15 jet fighter designed specifically to combat B-29 bombers) restricted the usefulness of these bombers. The US Navy also employed four of them, but they were restricted to long range search missions only. Aboard, 87 B-29 bombers were lent to the British Royal Air Force to serve as longer range nuclear-capable bombers between 1950 and 1955; two of them made their way to the Royal Australian Air Force for research between 1952 and 1956. Russia and Communist China also had a small number in service. These Russian variants were built after reverse engineering several captured early model B-29 bombers; they served under the designation Tu-4. After the arrival of the B-36 bomber, B-29 bombers were slowly relieved of front line heavy bomber duties. They were removed from duty in the 1960s. During the active production period of the B-29 design, 3,970 were built.

Source: Wikipedia.

B-29 Superfortress Timeline

6 Sep 1940 US military issued contracts for the construction of B-29 and B-32 prototype bombers.
18 Feb 1943 During a test flight from Renton near Seattle, Washington, United States a serious engine fire developed in the second XB-29 prototype aircraft. Test pilot Eddie Allen tried desperately to get back to the airfield but the huge bomber crashed into a packing plant killing the entire crew and a number of civilian workers in the building.

SPECIFICATIONS

B-29
MachineryFour Wright $-3350-23 turbosupercharged radial engines rated at 2,200hp each
Armament12x12.7mm M2 Browning machine guns in remote controlled turrets, 9,000kg of bombs for standard missions
Span43.06 m
Length30.18 m
Height8.45 m
Wing Area161.30 m
Weight, Empty33,800 kg
Weight, Loaded54,000 kg
Weight, Maximum60,560 kg
Speed, Maximum574 km/h
Speed, Cruising350 km/h
Rate of Climb4.50 m/s
Service Ceiling10,200 m
Range, Normal5,230 km
Range, Maximum9,000 km

Photographs

XB-29 prototype aircraft 41-002, the first B-29 aircraft made, circa 1942Olive-drab painted B-29 bombers, late 1943Superfortress bomber in flight, late 1943Interior of the rear pressurized cabin of a B-29 bomber, Jun 1944
See all 102 photographs of B-29 Superfortress Heavy Bomber



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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Nils Lindquist says:
    12 Apr 2007 08:57:22 AM

    Bolo Airstrip, for B-29s, was completed by the 87th Seabees on Okinaws before the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan but were never used. It would have cut the travel time almost in half.
  2. Anonymous says:
    18 Apr 2007 02:49:50 PM

    Wow...there would have been a lot less B-29s ditching at sea, as well...wonder why it wasnt used?
  3. Hobilar says:
    27 Sep 2007 05:12:38 AM

    Components for the B-29 were made at over sixty new factories (a new Cleveland facility operated by the Fisher Body Division of General Motors for instance producing the giant nacelles-each as big as a P-47). Final assembly was organised at three of the biggest aircraft facilities in the world-Boeing at Wichita, Martin at Omaha, and Bell Aviation at Marietta. Later a fourth facility was establised at Boeing Renton. As nobody in uniform could fully comprehend the full compexity of the B-29 the finished aircraft were then sent to a modificatiom centre at Salina, Kansas. Here, from the first 175 machines received over 9,900 faults were detected. The Air Force were furious, for these aircraft were urgently required to equip the new 20th Bomb Wing. In a massive effort a task force of 600 men was created to get these aircraft prepared and ready for delivery to the waiting Squadrons. This effort would go down in the History of Aviation as the, so called, Battle of Kansa.

  4. John Pounds Son says:
    28 Mar 2009 02:42:26 PM

    To Whom it May Concern, I'm looking for a B-29 Bomber called the Lady LU.
    It was with the 315th Bomb Wing 16th Bomb Group. A/C Major Bernard J.
    Mallory. His daughter and I are searching for the Serial Number for this plane and what happen to it. Started 1943-1945, Guam, May 27, 1945. It has
    a Diamond B on its tail. There are three Four-leaf Clovers and the head of
    a lady on the middle Clover.
    I have a second question for you. My fathers B-29 was called the Spanish Forks, UT aka "Heavenly Body" "K"-35. It was also on Guam 1944-1945.A/C
    Huff. MY Father's name was FE Robert D. Pounds was with the 330th Bomb Group/458 BS. My father retired as a Major from the Air Force. He died at
    the age of 72 years old. I pro missed that I would track down the plane
    and get a few pictures of it. One of the pictures will be placed on his tombstone.
    If you could come up with any information about either plane it would be very grateful to both my friend and me. If nothing else could you point us
    in the right direction.

    Thank you,
    Sincerely
    John Pounds Son
  5. Anonymous says:
    17 Jun 2009 08:29:30 AM

    I am listing a photo of the Heavenly Body's nose art on ebay for a consignor. Should be up today, Wednesday, June 17th.
  6. J.Pounds says:
    5 Aug 2009 06:04:02 PM

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    My name is John Pounds son of Major Robert D. Pounds of the 314th Wing 330th Bomb Group 458th Bomb Sq. Im looking for a B-29 Bomber that was stationed on Guam during the Second World War.

    The plane was called the City of Spanish Forks, UT aka Heavenly Body K-35 SN 44-69997 A/C Foster B. Huff. The Crew 811 and completed 21 missions over Japan.

    My father passed away on March 12,1995. But before he died I promised I would find a picture of the Crew 811 and a picture of the Spanish Forks. Then, I would place them at his grave site. If you had any information about this plane while it was with the 313 Wing 505 Bomb Group after the war. I would be very grateful.

    I am also interested in locating their missions, especially the ones that the K-35 was involved in. I am also looking the Nose Art of this plane The Heavenly Body.

    Below is a recent report that I obtained on this aircraft the Heavenly Body.
    I hope it will help you in tracking her down if you decide to help me.

    Historian Information:

    I have not been able so far to find exact missions, but I have found that plane with that serial number listed as both City of Spanish Forks, UT aka Heavenly Body. It flew with the 330th and also with the 505th. It had a Black SQ K 35 when it flew with the 330th and a Circle W when it flew with the 505th With the 505th it had no name. I found it had 21 missions but I could not find which missions with which name or with which bomb group.


    The B 29 Bomber would have been on Guam as the 330th BG, but then on Tinian with the 505th.

    I have not had much luck in finding the serial number with specific missions, but I did find evidence of 21 missions.

    Will keep looking. Have found 2 different nose arts for Heavenly Body- none for City of Spanish Forks.

    Thank you

    Sincerely,

    John Pounds


    P.S. I am very interested in the information about what this crew 811 did, plane, missions and any photos. I realize that this is a lot to ask but my father means a lot to me. He was not only my father but my best friend.

    Do you think you could help me out in my search of the Spanish Forks, UT aka Heavenly Body.
  7. SFC Kenneth Salyers says:
    16 Aug 2009 11:43:26 AM

    Seeking information on my grandfathers B-29. Any info appreiated.
    I know its name was "strap hangar" with a picture of a trolley car on the nose. he flew with 20th AF off of Tinian and he had mentioned it was "G"ulf bird...circle G on the tail.
    Pilots name Robert J. Evans.

    Anyone with any information please forward to kenneth.salyers@us.army.mil

    V/R, SFC Kenneth C. Salyers
  8. SHAKIR ALI ABBSI says:
    23 Sep 2009 11:30:23 PM

    Respected sir,
    it is requsted that my father Mr REHMAT DIN ABBASI have served in British Royal Army 1943 During Second World War he recrute from indian kashmer, please help me about find out the servce record of my father.

    thanks
    SHAKIT ALI ABBASI
  9. Anonymous says:
    18 Apr 2010 09:44:50 AM

    To Whom it May Concern,
    I'm looking for any and all information about a B-29 Bomber Plane "Lady Lu". I believe it was with the 315th or 316th BS. A friend of mine. Her dad was the A/C on this plane. her email is "Maureen Malloy"
    Thanks for your help.

    John Pounds son of Maj. Robert D. Pounds USAF (RET).

  10. Anonymous says:
    4 Jan 2011 05:33:19 PM


    FREDERICK ROEVER Major USAF (Retired) World War II B29 Pilot passed away Dec. 26, 2010. Survived by his wife, Ann son, Jim grandchildren, Christina, Jennifer, Devin, Trent, Dean and Blake. Viewing Tuesday, 1/4/11 from 5-8pm and Service on Wednesday, 1/5/11 at 10am at Acheson and Graham Garden of Prayer Mortuary with Graveside Service to follow. Arrangements under the direction of Acheson & Graham Garden of Prayer
  11. Bill says:
    2 Apr 2011 09:08:21 PM

    The United States should respect every Veteran who passes on with flags at half staff, besides Veterans Day, but then again every day the flags would be at half staff, in honor of all Veterans who pass on to that great formation in the sky.
    We as a free people should always remember the sacrifices made in war and peace and
    hope that one day no Americans will ever go off to foreign lands.

    Today another generation of Americans are in far off lands, must it always be so how many comrades have we lost this way...stop and think about what you have, what you can become and to live free, stop and think about all that you own and care for remember another generation of Americans are paying the check.

    ** Thank you Frederick Roever, Major USAF **
  12. Gary says:
    23 Jan 2013 07:07:10 AM

    I'm trying to locate information on a B-29 that my father was assigned to in WWII. The name was the Magic City. Look for a website that I can look up the history of this plane. I have many pictures of this plane dropping it's bombs.
  13. gary says:
    24 Jan 2013 10:09:53 AM

    My fathers plane was called the Magic City 315th wing, 16th bomb Sq. He was in the Pacific during WWII. I'm looking for any information regarding his unit. Any help at all.
    Thanks
  14. Anonymous says:
    18 Feb 2013 05:10:05 PM

    How do I find out what unit my father was attached to in the Mariana Islands during WWII? He was a pilot on a B29. I don't have his DD number.
  15. Gary says:
    2 Apr 2013 07:26:45 PM

    To: John Pounds Son,
    It seems like we are looking in the same area. The 315th wing. How can I contact you
    Gary
  16. Alan Chanter says:
    28 Apr 2013 12:22:50 AM

    Doesn't Bill's (2 April 2011) wish "that one day no Americans will EVER go of to foreign lands" put you in mind of the former purpose of the Berlin Wall?
  17. Stephen Musil says:
    14 Sep 2013 07:54:47 PM

    To John Pounds Son

    My Dad Sgt.Emory Benjamin Musil was ground crew chief for the Lady Lu on Guam. I would greatly like to hear any info you have about this B29.
    Here's to these great men!
    Stephen Musil
  18. Bill says:
    25 Sep 2013 07:21:46 PM

    Alan Chanter Comment 28 Apr 2013

    IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES:

    Have you ever served in the armed forces? Do you even know what's involved serving your country. Got news for everyone its not a 9 to 5 job with week ends off.

    Went to West Berlin in April 1967 and saw that infamous wall. When I was in W. Berlin it was the only place in Western Europe the Germans bought me a beer. Also visited France and England
    and the Low Countries.

    BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS:

    Volunteered for Vietnam arrived in country 11/67
    served w/the 9th Inf. Div. in the Mekong Delta
    medivaced out to Japan in 9/68.

    Returned to Vietnam 6/69 served with I Field Forces Vietnam in the Central Highlands.
    I saw war and what it does to human beings over 40 years later those events are still with me.
    So tell me I'm not dreaming for the day, when I wish no Americans go off to foreign lands.
    Why does every generation of Americans pay the check for somebody else.

    In 1970 I returned home to an unwelcoming country an exhausted and much older 22 year old sergeant, who experienced way too much...

    I thank the editor/ww2db for allowing me to leave my comments.
  19. C. Peter Chen says:
    26 Sep 2013 06:47:13 AM

    Bill, thank you once again for your comments and, more so, for your service. Alan Chanter, a fellow WW2DB contributor, was indeed a veteran. He was with the British Army between 1967 and 1989.
  20. Bill says:
    26 Sep 2013 06:54:16 PM

    Thank you Peter Chen for your comment dated 26 Sept 2013. Alan Chanter's service to his country
    like all veterans is a deep and personal event in any man's life, be it in war or peace.

    Some comments are way two short and one has to go think about what are they talking about, or they leave little information about themselves.
    Nevertheless, I would be most interested in reading Alan's military experience. It would add to any ww2db/contributor's/veteran experiences...
  21. Christine says:
    10 May 2014 07:28:01 PM

    I'm looking for information on the B-29 that my grandfather, Lucas Dale Beaty (went by Dale), flew in WWII. We have had no luck in getting his military records from the National Archives, their response was it was likely his records were destroyed in a fire. We have a least 1 photo of his military hat that he rarely wore after the war. But nothing else.

    He was a pilot in 1945 for Boeing, where he met my grandmother. I have his employment records, from start until his death in 1966.

    From what my father was told, he flew a B-29 named Oklahoma Momma. I haven't found anything on the craft. My father was only 7 years old in 1966.

    If anyone one has anything on him or the aircraft please let me know.

    Thanks
  22. Shawn says:
    21 Jul 2014 08:39:24 AM

    They say this plane won the war. It took brave men to go on the long missions on this plane that was frequently ditched. God bless them.
  23. Anonymous says:
    15 Aug 2014 07:56:42 AM

    John Pounds posted comments years ago. Here are some links he may find useful, if the webmaster could pass them along to him.

    Thanks.

    More info on the Lady Lu (people who flew in her): https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/TexasCzechs/conversations/topics/41069?source=1&var=1 http://www.timesrecordnews.com/obituaries/emory-musil

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Related Books:
» Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan 1942-1945


B-29 Superfortress Heavy Bomber Photo Gallery
XB-29 prototype aircraft 41-002, the first B-29 aircraft made, circa 1942
See all 102 photographs of B-29 Superfortress Heavy Bomber



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