The B-29 represents the state of the art in bombardment technology of the 1940s. Many of today’s modern aircraft systems can trace their origins to the B-29. Designed as a replacement for the famous B-17 “Flying Fortress,” the B-29 incorporated many modern advances in aviation technology.
After the Marianas Islands were taken by U.S. forces in June, 1944, B-29 bases were constructed on Guam, Saipan and Tinian. These bases put the B-29 and its 20,000-pound bomb load within 1,500 miles of the Japanese homeland.
The B-29 is most famous for its role in two history-making missions.
The first was on August 6, 1945, when Colonel Paul Tibbets, piloting the B-29 ‘Enola Gay,’ dropped the ‘Little Boy’ atom bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. This single bomb killed 75,000 people in a matter of seconds.
On August 9, 1945, the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki by Major Sweeny.
On August 14, 1945, the Japanese surrendered.
Five years later in July of 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea and the B-29 was once again called upon to provide aerial bombardment support.
(The aircraft that the B-29 replaced was the B-17 ‘Flying Fortress’ that I trained on as a radio operator.)
Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.