Fifteen Fast Facts – B-29 Superfortress

B-29.

Quickfire, 15 B-29 Superfortress facts – do you know them?

1) There were 3,970 B-29s produced between 1943 and 1946.

2) The B-29 was one of the first military aircraft to have a pressurized cabin.

3) To handle pressurization, the fuselage was designed as a cylinder.

4) The B-29 was capable of flight at altitudes up to 31,850 feet at speeds of up to 350 mph, out of range of Japanese fighters and anti-aircaft guns.

5) B-29 Superfortresses were only used in the Pacific Theater of WWII.

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Air crew preparing a B-29 Superfortress bomber for a mission, Saipan, Mariana Islands, 1944-1945; note another B-29 in flight overhead.

6) The B-29 ‘Enola Gay’ dropped the first atomic bomb in combat on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6th, 1945.

7) B-29 ‘Bockscar’ dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki,  on August 9th.  To this day, they are the only two atomic weapons used in combat.

8) The B-29 had a ‘Central Fire System’ that included 2 remotely controlled turrets with .50 caliber machine guns each.

9) The guns were aimed electronically from the nose, mid-fuselage, and the tail.

10) The gun system also used 5 analog computers to help operators aim, compensating for airspeed, gravity, temperature and humidity.

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A 307th Bomb Group B-29 bombing a target in Korea, c. 1951.

11) After making bombing runs over Japan, five B-29s made emergency landings in the Soviet Union . The US asked the Soviets to return the aircraft, but they refused to do so.

12) Three of the five B-29s, which were repairable, were flown to the Tupelov design bureau in Moscow. The bombers were then reverse-engineered and turned into the Tu-4. A total of 847 Tu-4s were produced by the Soviet Union.

13) The B-29 was produced for another year after the end of WWII. The development of fighter jets made B-29 obsolete, and it was replaced by the much larger Convair B-36.

14) The B-29 saw extensive combat in the Korean war and dropped 200.000 tons of bombs in 20,000 sorties.

15) The B-29 was credited with shooting down 27 enemy aircraft during the Korean War.

Interior photo of the rear pressurized cabin of the B-29 Superfortress, June 1944.
Interior photo of the rear pressurized cabin of the B-29 Superfortress, June 1944.