Boeing B-29 Superfortress

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress is an American four-engined propeller-driven heavy bomber, designed by Boeing and flown primarily by the United States during World War II and the Korean War. Named in allusion to its predecessor, the B-17 Flying Fortress, the Superfortress was designed for high-altitude strategic bombing, but also excelled in low-altitude night incendiary bombing, and in dropping naval mines to blockade Japan. B-29s dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only aircraft ever to drop nuclear weapons in combat.

B-29 Superfortress
A USAAF B-29 Superfortress
Role Strategic bomber, Heavy bomber
National origin United States
Manufacturer Boeing
First flight 21 September 1942[1]
Introduction 8 May 1944
Retired 21 June 1960
Status Retired (see Surviving aircraft)
Primary users United States Army Air Forces
United States Air Force
Royal Air Force
Produced 1943–1946[2]
Number built 3,970
Variants All models
Boeing KB-29 Superfortress
XB-39 Superfortress
Boeing XB-44 Superfortress
Boeing B-50 Superfortress
Developed into Boeing 377 Stratocruiser
Tupolev Tu-4
Boeing assembly line at Wichita, Kansas (1944)

One of the largest aircraft of World War II, the B-29 was designed with state-of-the-art technology, which included a pressurized cabin, dual-wheeled tricycle landing gear, and an analog computer-controlled fire-control system that allowed one gunner and a fire-control officer to direct four remote machine gun turrets. The $3 billion cost of design and production (equivalent to $45 billion today),[3] far exceeding the $1.9 billion cost of the Manhattan Project, made the B-29 program the most expensive of the war.[4][5] The B-29's advanced design allowed it to remain in service in various roles throughout the 1950s. The type was retired in the early 1960s, after 3,970 of them had been built. A few were also used as flying television transmitters by the Stratovision company. The Royal Air Force flew the B-29 as the Washington until 1954.

The B-29 was the progenitor of a series of Boeing-built bombers, transports, tankers, reconnaissance aircraft, and trainers. For example, the re-engined B-50 Superfortress became Lucky Lady II, the first aircraft to fly around the world non-stop, during a 94-hour flight in 1949. The Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter airlifter, which was first flown in 1944, was followed in 1947 by its commercial airliner variant, the Boeing Model 377 Stratocruiser. This bomber-to-airliner derivation was similar to the B-17/Model 307 evolution. In 1948, Boeing introduced the KB-29 tanker, followed in 1950 by the Model 377-derivative KC-97. A line of outsized-cargo variants of the Stratocruiser is the Guppy / Mini Guppy / Super Guppy, which remain in service with NASA and other operators. The Soviet Union produced 847 Tupolev Tu-4s, an unlicensed reverse-engineered copy of the B-29. Twenty B-29s remain as static displays, but only two, FIFI and Doc, still fly.[6]


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