Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay” (view into nose cockpit)
Boeing’s B-29 Superfortress was the most sophisticated propeller-driven bomber of World War II and the 1st bomber to home its crew in pressurized compartments. Even though created to fight in the European theater, the B-29 discovered its niche on the other side of the globe. In the Pacific, B-29s delivered a assortment of aerial weapons: conventional bombs, incendiary bombs, mines, and two nuclear weapons.
On August six, 1945, this Martin-built B-29-45-MO dropped the initial atomic weapon utilised in combat on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, Bockscar (on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum near Dayton, Ohio) dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Enola Gay flew as the advance weather reconnaissance aircraft that day. A third B-29, The Wonderful Artiste, flew as an observation aircraft on each missions.
Transferred from the United States Air Force.
Nation of Origin:
United States of America
General: 900 x 3020cm, 32580kg, 4300cm (29ft 6 5/16in. x 99ft 1in., 71825.9lb., 141ft 15/16in.)
Polished general aluminum finish
4-engine heavy bomber with semi-monoqoque fuselage and higher-aspect ratio wings. Polished aluminum finish general, common late-Globe War II Army Air Forces insignia on wings and aft fuselage and serial number on vertical fin 509th Composite Group markings painted in black "Enola Gay" in black, block letters on reduce left nose.
Boeing’s B-29 Superfortress was the most sophisticated, propeller-driven, bomber to fly during Globe War II, and the initial bomber to home its crew in pressurized compartments. Boeing installed very advanced armament, propulsion, and avionics systems into the Superfortress. For the duration of the war in the Pacific Theater, the B-29 delivered the first nuclear weapons utilised in combat. On August 6, 1945, Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., in command of the Superfortress Enola Gay, dropped a highly enriched uranium, explosion-variety, "gun-fired," atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. 3 days later, Significant Charles W. Sweeney piloted the B-29 Bockscar and dropped a very enriched plutonium, implosion-kind atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Enola Gay flew as the advance climate reconnaissance aircraft that day. On August 14, 1945, the Japanese accepted Allied terms for unconditional surrender.
In the late 1930s, U. S. Army Air Corps leaders recognized the need to have for very long-variety bombers that exceeded the functionality of the B-17 Flying Fortress. Several years of preliminary research paralleled a continuous fight against those who saw limited utility in developing such an pricey and unproven aircraft but the Air Corps issued a requirement for the new bomber in February 1940. It described an airplane that could carry a maximum bomb load of 909 kg (2,000 lb) at a speed of 644 kph (400 mph) a distance of at least eight,050 km (5,000 miles). Boeing, Consolidated, Douglas, and Lockheed responded with design and style proposals. The Army was impressed with the Boeing design and issued a contract for two flyable prototypes in September 1940. In April 1941, the Army issued one more contract for 250 aircraft plus spare components equivalent to one more 25 bombers, eight months ahead of Pearl Harbor and nearly a year-and-a-half ahead of the very first Superfortress would fly.
Among the design’s innovations was a lengthy, narrow, higher-aspect ratio wing equipped with huge Fowler-variety flaps. This wing design permitted the B-29 to fly very fast at higher altitudes but maintained comfy handling characteristics during takeoff and landing. A lot more revolutionary was the size and sophistication of the pressurized sections of the fuselage: the flight deck forward of the wing, the gunner’s compartment aft of the wing, and the tail gunner’s station. For the crew, flying at extreme altitudes became considerably a lot more comfortable as pressure and temperature could be regulated. To shield the Superfortress, Boeing made a remote-controlled, defensive weapons technique. Engineers placed 5 gun turrets on the fuselage: a turret above and behind the cockpit that housed two .50 caliber machine guns (four guns in later versions), and one more turret aft near the vertical tail equipped with two machine guns plus two far more turrets beneath the fuselage, every single equipped with two .50 caliber guns. One of these turrets fired from behind the nose gear and the other hung additional back close to the tail. An additional two .50 caliber machine guns and a 20-mm cannon (in early versions of the B-29) had been fitted in the tail beneath the rudder. Gunners operated these turrets by remote manage–a true innovation. They aimed the guns making use of computerized sights, and every gunner could take manage of two or much more turrets to concentrate firepower on a single target.
Boeing also equipped the B-29 with sophisticated radar equipment and avionics. Based on the variety of mission, a B-29 carried the AN/APQ-13 or AN/APQ-7 Eagle radar technique to aid bombing and navigation. These systems had been precise enough to permit bombing by way of cloud layers that entirely obscured the target. The B-29B was equipped with the AN/APG-15B airborne radar gun sighting program mounted in the tail, insuring accurate defense against enemy fighters attacking at evening. B-29s also routinely carried as a lot of as twenty different varieties of radios and navigation devices.
The initial XB-29 took off at Boeing Field in Seattle on September 21, 1942. By the end of the year the second aircraft was ready for flight. Fourteen service-test YB-29s followed as production started to accelerate. Creating this sophisticated bomber needed enormous logistics. Boeing built new B-29 plants at Renton, Washington, and Wichita, Kansas, although Bell constructed a new plant at Marietta, Georgia, and Martin constructed 1 in Omaha, Nebraska. Both Curtiss-Wright and the Dodge automobile business vastly expanded their manufacturing capacity to build the bomber’s potent and complicated Curtiss-Wright R-3350 turbo supercharged engines. The plan required thousands of sub-contractors but with extraordinary effort, it all came with each other, regardless of major teething problems. By April 1944, the initial operational B-29s of the newly formed 20th Air Force began to touch down on dusty airfields in India. By May, 130 B-29s have been operational. In June, 1944, much less than two years right after the initial flight of the XB-29, the U. S. Army Air Forces (AAF) flew its very first B-29 combat mission against targets in Bangkok, Thailand. This mission (longest of the war to date) referred to as for one hundred B-29s but only 80 reached the target region. The AAF lost no aircraft to enemy action but bombing final results have been mediocre. The very first bombing mission against the Japanese principal islands since Lt. Col. "Jimmy" Doolittle’s raid against Tokyo in April 1942, occurred on June 15, again with poor final results. This was also the first mission launched from airbases in China.
With the fall of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam in the Mariana Islands chain in August 1944, the AAF acquired airbases that lay many hundred miles closer to mainland Japan. Late in 1944, the AAF moved the XXI Bomber Command, flying B-29s, to the Marianas and the unit started bombing Japan in December. However, they employed high-altitude, precision, bombing techniques that yielded poor benefits. The high altitude winds had been so powerful that bombing computer systems could not compensate and the climate was so poor that rarely was visual target acquisition achievable at higher altitudes. In March 1945, Main General Curtis E. LeMay ordered the group to abandon these tactics and strike alternatively at night, from low altitude, using incendiary bombs. These firebombing raids, carried out by hundreds of B-29s, devastated considerably of Japan’s industrial and economic infrastructure. But Japan fought on. Late in 1944, AAF leaders chosen the Martin assembly line to make a squadron of B-29s codenamed SILVERPLATE. Martin modified these Superfortresses by removing all gun turrets except for the tail position, removing armor plate, installing Curtiss electric propellers, and modifying the bomb bay to accommodate either the "Fat Man" or "Little Boy" versions of the atomic bomb. The AAF assigned 15 Silverplate ships to the 509th Composite Group commanded by Colonel Paul Tibbets. As the Group Commander, Tibbets had no certain aircraft assigned to him as did the mission pilots. He was entitled to fly any aircraft at any time. He named the B-29 that he flew on six August Enola Gay after his mother. In the early morning hours, just prior to the August 6th mission, Tibbets had a young Army Air Forces maintenance man, Private Nelson Miller, paint the name just under the pilot’s window.
Enola Gay is a model B-29-45-MO, serial number 44-86292. The AAF accepted this aircraft on June 14, 1945, from the Martin plant at Omaha (Situated at what is these days Offut AFB close to Bellevue), Nebraska. Right after the war, Army Air Forces crews flew the airplane in the course of the Operation Crossroads atomic test program in the Pacific, though it dropped no nuclear devices throughout these tests, and then delivered it to Davis-Monthan Army Airfield, Arizona, for storage. Later, the U. S. Air Force flew the bomber to Park Ridge, Illinois, then transferred it to the Smithsonian Institution on July 4, 1949. Even though in Smithsonian custody, the aircraft remained stored at Pyote Air Force Base, Texas, amongst January 1952 and December 1953. The airplane’s final flight ended on December 2 when the Enola Gay touched down at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. The bomber remained at Andrews in outdoor storage until August 1960. By then, concerned about the bomber deteriorating outdoors, the Smithsonian sent collections staff to disassemble the Superfortress and move it indoors to the Paul E. Garber Facility in Suitland, Maryland.
The staff at Garber began operating to preserve and restore Enola Gay in December 1984. This was the biggest restoration project ever undertaken at the National Air and Space Museum and the specialists anticipated the perform would demand from seven to nine years to complete. The project really lasted almost two decades and, when completed, had taken roughly 300,000 function-hours to complete. The B-29 is now displayed at the National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
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