The outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 made it essential that USAAC planners should at least talk about long-range bomber projects, and the initial identification of such was VHB (very heavy bomber). When it seemed likely that such an aircraft might have to be deployed over the vast reaches of the Pacific Ocean the identification VLR (very long-range) seemed more apt, and it was the VLR project which General Henry H. ('Hap') Arnold, head of the USAAC, got under way at the beginning of 1940.
Requests for proposals were sent to five US aircraft manufacturers on 29 January 1940: in due course design studies were submitted by Boeing, Consolidated, Douglas and Lockheed, these being allocated the respective designations XB-29, XB-32, XB-31 and XB-30. Douglas and Lockheed subsequently withdrew from the competition, and on 6 September 1940 contracts were awarded to Boeing and Consolidated (later Convair) for the construction and development of two (later three) prototypes of their respective designs. Convair's XB-32 Dominator was the first to fly, on 7 September 1942, but extensive development delayed its entry into service.
Boeing, because of the company's foresight, was much further along the design road in 1940, and being able to convince the USAAC that it would have production aircraft available within two or three years, had received orders for more than 1,500 before a prototype was flown. The reason for the advanced design state of Boeing's proposal was due to the fact that as early as 1938 the company had offered to the USAAC its ideas for an improved B-17, with a pressurised cabin to make high-altitude operations less demanding on the crew. While there was then no requirement for such an aircraft, the US Army encouraged Boeing to keep the design updated to meet the changing conditions of war. This was reflected by designs identified as Models 316, 322, 333, 334 and 341. The design for the XB-29 was a development of the Model 341, designated Model 345, and the first of the prototypes made its maiden flight on 21 September 1942.
The USAAC's specification had called for a speed of 644km/h, so the XB-29 had a high aspect ratio cantilever monoplane wing mid-set on the circular-section fuselage. Because such a wing would entail a high landing speed, the wide-span trailing-edge flaps were of the Fowler type which effectively increased wing area by almost 20%, thus allowing a landing to be made at lower speed. Electrically retractable tricycle landing gear was provided and, as originally proposed by Boeing, pressurised accommodation was included for the flight crew. In addition, a second pressurised compartment just aft of the wing gave accommodation to crew members who, in the third XB-29 and production aircraft, sighted defensive gun turrets from adjacent blister windows. The crew and aft compartments were connected by a crawl-tunnel which passed over the fore and aft bomb bays. The tail gunner was accommodated in a pressurised compartment, but this was isolated from the other crew positions. The powerplant consisted of four Wright R-3350 Cyclone twin-row radial engines, each with two General Electric turbochargers mounted one in each side of the engine nacelle.
Prototype production was followed by 14 YB-29 service test aircraft, the first of these flying on 26 June 1943. Deliveries of YB-29s began almost immediately to the 58th Very Heavy Bombardment Wing (VHBW), a unit which had been established on 1 June in advance of the first flight. B-29 production was the most diverse aircraft manufacturing project undertaken in the USA during World War II, with literally thousands of sub-contractors supplying components or assemblies to the four main production plants: Boeing at Renton and Wichita; Bell at Marietta, Georgia; and Martin at Omaha, Nebraska.
B-29 production totalled 1,644 from Boeing's Wichita plant, with 668 built by Bell and 536 by Martin. The Renton plant produced only the B-29A variant, with slightly increased span and changes in fuel capacity and armament: production continued until May 1946 and totalled 1,122 aircraft.
The designation B-29B related to 311 of the aircraft built by Bell. These were reduced in weight by removal of all
defensive armament except for the tail guns, which were then unmanned, being aimed and fired automatically by an AN/APG-15B radar fire-control system. The production total of nearly 4,000 B-29s of all versions must be regarded as very large, having regard to their size and cost, and it is not surprising that they saw a wide variety of employment in the post-war years, operating under several designations. A number of B-29s were used operationally during the Korean War.
|A three-view drawing (1000 x 825)|
| ENGINE||4 x Wright R-3350-23-23A/-41 Cyclone 18, 1641kW|
| Take-off weight||56245 kg||124000 lb|
| Empty weight||31815 kg||70140 lb|
| Wingspan||43.05 m||141 ft 3 in|
| Length||30.18 m||99 ft 0 in|
| Height||9.02 m||30 ft 7 in|
| Wing area||161.27 m2||1735.89 sq ft|
| Max. speed||576 km/h||358 mph|
| Cruise speed||370 km/h||230 mph|
| Ceiling||9710 m||31850 ft|
| Range w/max.fuel||5230 km||3250 miles|
| Range w/max.payload||2880 km||1790 miles|
| ARMAMENT||11 x 12.7mm machine-guns, 9000kg of bombs|
|Robert Murphy (Bob), 08.03.2011|
This is kind of a follow-up on the comments by Carl Erickson's, that I too went through combat crew training, assigned as the tail gunner, at Randolph AFB in Texas and our B29 crew was sent to the 580th AR Wing (580th AR Squadron) at Mt Home AFB in Idaho. Unfortunately, in September,1953,the crew crashed while flying take-off and landings, with no surviors. Subsequently I was assigned to another crew and the unit was sent to Tripoli. Hey, we were the first of the 580th. There is an Association of the 580th, 581st and the 582 that is active now. If you are interest contact Carl H. Bernhardt, 424 Cedar Lane, Cheshire, Connecticut 06410. About the B29, I think that it was the smoothest flying airplane in the air, except for take-offs and landings....
|David Earl, 14.02.2011|
This plane is a beast. The biggest propeller driven plane ever in warfare, it pulled the fire bombings, the A bombs Fat Man and Little Boy. Heck, its more closely related to our current B-52's than the rather crappy B-17's at the time. One of my favorite planes ever.
|Budd Hawk, 24.01.2011|
My dad(William R Hawk Jr.) was the navigator on B-29
44-87599 when it was picked up at Wichita and remained with its crew until he was discharged in 1945. I have pictures of it in it's original configuration and the crew taken in 1945 at Chatham Field,GA as well as a picture in the P2B-1S configuration after it was turned over to the Navy.I also have a copy of the complete history of the aircraft via the Individual Aircraft Record Card. I searched for over twenty years trying to determine it's fate but have not been successful.Theory is it ended its life at China Lake Any recent info on the aircraft would be appreciated. Such a beautiful bird!
|Larry Noska, 17.01.2011|
I was station at China Lake Ca. 1962 to 1966. There were several B-29's parked in a grave yard for them at that time. I spent lots of time exploring the B-29's for parts. I was in impressed with the flight engineer ststion,he had his hands full.
|Don Bluhm, 29.11.2010|
we graduated as flight engineers at Hondo Texas july 45 after a year trainning. The dropping of the h bomb stopped all classes and 29 flights to saipan. the 17 and 24's were large but the 29 was the most advanced with computers and the engineers had to tell the pilot what settings to fly at so we had enough fuel to get back . the h bomb saved thousands of lives ====thanks Harry TRUMAN
|Gerald L. Hendrix, 28.11.2010|
My Boeing B-29`s Were all KB-29P air refueling, boom type Tankers. I was a scanner/Boom operator with the 91st ARS, the 100th ARS & the 508 th ARS.We refuled the RB-45 aircraft
of the 91 photo recon. the 509th RB50`s & the F-84G & F type
Models.Took part in "Fox Peter #1 deploying the F-84`s to
Korea..We were the real pioneers of the flying boom era.I
served from 1951 to March of 1955,..great airlpane, been over the North pole in her once or twice..They took the sighting blisters off the sides of the aircraft due to the weight & swing moment of the boom, Added one blister to the tail, & that was a beautiful view of the aircraft we were refueling..Proud to serve
|Hugo Schmidt, 22.11.2010|
Was co-pilot on B-29 tail #2099, Kadena AFB, Okinawa. 20th AF. 19th Bomb Wing, 93rd Bomb Squadron. Jan '53 to July 53. Flew 28 missions to No. Korea. Our last scheduled mission was the last of the War Then to Mtn Home AFB, Idaho where conversion to B-47s was taking place.
|Peter Gough, 21.11.2010|
I was on # 57 Squadron at RAF Coningsby Lincolnshire in Britain in 1952. We had B-29's as did RAF squadrons at Marham Norfolk and elsewhere. (The Brit designation of the B-29 was "Washington") The engines were a weak link (constant mag drops and oil leaks) but once in the air were a fantastic plane.
After the cold and unpressurized Lincoln and Lancater the B-29 was a gem.
|Zachary F, 21.11.2010|
Its a shame that the local wal-mart wont carry a poster of these heros,a photo of the crew and the planes they flew.I have talked to Charles Chauncey the pilot of Goin Jessie and had a chance to thank him for his service.To me, all of the men who went up in the planes and worked on the ground are heros.
For this plane, i do not care, for my is the simbol of mass destruction and a coward attack at the end of the war, when everywhere in the world almost was over. Pearl Harbor is a piece a cake, if you compared with this crime to the humanity.
Hello Duane. Just reading about all the various types of planes in WWII and letters from the men that flew these planes. Saw your letter here and noticed the European theatre of war.
I was just a youngster in those days. ( My next birthday I will hit 80 ) but my next door neighbor flew missions over Europe. If I remember correctly he was a bombardier and I would write to him as a youngster and he wrote back. V-mail, I am sure you recall that. But the only thing he could say was, "Hi Joe. Not much I can say here is that we get up every morning go over, drop, them and come back. Next day the same thing." I do remember him being stationed somewhere in England. He passed away within the past year.
God bless you guys for the tremendous job that was done. Many thanks. Joe in Ohio
|PAUL KROESEN, 05.11.2010|
I WAS AIRPLANE COMMANDER OUT OF SAIPAN--73RD BOMB GROUP AND FLEW 13 MISSIONS IN '45 PLUS POW MISSIONS TO JAPAN. TOTAL 3000 HOURS PILOT TIME AND NEVER FLEW A PLANE BETTER THAN THE B-29 ALTHOUGH THE B-17 WAS EASIER. I'M 94 NOW AND THINK MY CREW ARE ALL GONE.
|Gordon McCoun, 18.10.2010|
My father was bombardier on the Jolly Roger based (I think) in Tinian. She crashed landed in the ocean and there are videos of the landing. If anyone has a recollection of that or knows how to get a copy of the video, I would be grateful.
|Sue Chilipka Franzmathes, 11.10.2010|
My Dad, Julius J. "Chip" Chilipka, was the Bombadier on the Goin' Jessie, alongside Chuck Chauncey and Jack Cramer. The Jessie's flight and maintenace crews were all heroes! I just wish we knew what happened to The Jessie after WWII. If anyone knows, please contact me. Thank you.
|Dude Engel, 06.10.2010|
I served as a Bombardier but never got overseas. Had our crew together when the big one was dropped on Hiroshima. The B-29 was a great plane, but those first engines used were troublesome. Had number 4 engine catch fire on take off but safely aborted take off thanks to a very long runway at McDill
air base. Later models of the 29 had Pratt & Whitney engines, which were much less troublesome.
|Jim Skinner, 02.10.2010|
I was assigned to the 5040th Radar Evaluation Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, AK where we had 1 TB-29, 1 B-57 and a T-33. I was a radio operator on the last operational TB-29 in the Air Force. Our job was to try and sneak into Alaska and we used chaff dispensers and other radar jamming equipment to train the ground radar crews. I personally like flying on it but the engineers were a little leery. Enjoyed actually flying it when they would let me.
|Dana Simmons, 27.09.2010|
What amazing articles and comments. I am hoping someone on this site can assist me in obtaining a copy of the roster for soldiers/gunners who attended school at the Harlingen Air Force Base Gunnery School in August 1944? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
|Earl Erickson, 19.09.2010|
I went to texas for school for b29s in 53 and was sent to england with the 582nd air resupply we did covert operations in europe.we had 12 b29s 4 C119 5 SA16s.we had 2 sister flights,581st in korea,580th in triple,the 29s were alot of maintenance but a great ship 763-234-6501
|DUANE R. RATCLIFF, 10.09.2010|
I WAS ASSIT.CREW CHIEF,FLT ENG 352ND BSQDN 301ST BM WING STA SALINA KS 1949 & BARKADALE AFB SHREVEPORT LA.UNTIL JUL 54 CONVERTED TO B-47E JET BMER 1953 STILL HAVE NAMES AND TAIL NO,S OF ACFT, NAMES OF PERSONEL WE WERE THE BOX A ON VER. FIN WE WERE A BM CARRIERS WE COVERED EUROPE FROM ENGLAND. OUR HNGER NO WAS 12 BAFB ONCE AIRBORNE SHE WAS GREAT EXCEPT FOR 3350'S THE B-50 WA SUPER WITH 4360'S ENG'S BOEING WICHITA IS RESTOREING B-29 NAMED DOC TO FLY 316-682-6488
|Chip Chaffin, 28.08.2010|
My grandfather helped build the B-29 at the Marietta Georgia plant. His job was mounting the machine-guns.
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?