B-29 BOMBER—ENGINNERING MARVAL

December 29, 2011


B-29 BOMBER—ENGINNERING MARVAL

The information for this blog was taken from the following source:  “History of the 504th Bomb Group (IV) in WW II” by Mr. Fiske Hanley, Historian, 504th Bomb Group, Copyright 1992.

We have often heard that necessity is the mother of invention and during World War II our country desperately needed a long range all-weather bomber that could carry payloads from islands in the Pacific to Japan, and back.  The B-17 bomber (Flying Fortress), introduced in 1938, was used primarily during daylight hours for missions in Western Europe, specifically Germany.  It was perfectly adequate for medium range sorties but did not have the range or the carrying capacity required for the Pacific Theater.   The B-29 was a logical evolution of the four-engine B-17.   This new bomber required greater technology such as: more powerful engines, heavy armament, larger bomb loads and considerably higher altitude capabilities.  The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was to WWII as the B-52 was to Viet Nam.  The first flight was 21 September 1942 and was piloted by Boeing’s Chief Test Pilot Eddie Allen.  Even with its existing problems, the plane was an engineering marvel for its time.  The photograph below will show the configuration.

                               

 

 Now let us look at the specifications for this “flying machine”.

  • Power by four, eighteen cylinder Curtiss Wright R-3350 engines, each developing 2,200 HP. (NOTE:  The engines ran very hot and used considerably more aviation fuel than expected.  Frequent fires occurred due to the second row of nine cylinders located behind the first row of nine.)  For high altitude operation General Electric B-11 turbochargers were installed.
  • Wingspan:  141 Feet-3 Inches
  • Length:  99 Feet from nose to tail.
  • Height: 27 Feet-9 Inches
  • Design payload: 120,000 pounds, gross take-off weight.
  • Maximum Overload Weight: 135,000 pounds
  • Fuel capacity: 9,363 gallons (NOTE: For some reason a residual of 213 gallons disappeared into the structure and was not usable.)
  • 500 gallon bomb-bay fuel tanks could be carried in lieu of bombs for extra long missions and were used for day-light precision attacks.
  • Installed with AN/APQ-14 radar which proved very accurate for mine placement.  This radar was much better than the Norden Bombsight and provided all-weather capability.
  • Operational range:  With a payload of 20,000 pounds, 3,250 miles.
  • Propellers:  Hamilton Standard Hydromatic, oil operated.
  • Bomb doors were screw-jack operated.
  • Armament: Remote controlled General Electric guns consisting of 12 50-caliber and 1 20 mm cannon                                   
  • Five gun-turrets were provided
  • Crew: Twelve
  • Number built:  3,970
  • Unit costs: $639,188
  • Service ceiling: 40,000 Feet
  • Maximum speed: 350 MPH

Of course we all realize the evolution and development of aircraft (bombers and fighters) was greatly accelerated by the advent of WWII.  We actually went into WWII with some bi-wing, single seat fighters.  The B-29 indicates what Americans can do when there is a need and when we really put our minds and work ethic to it.

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