THE BOEING B-29 SUPERFORTRESS
The B-29 was the world's protector. Seattle Boeing designed it. Wichita Boeing helped build it.
The Army Air Corps flew it and the world was saved.
~ Kermit K. Thompson, Boeing Engineering Service Manager, 1936-1945
(from a 2001 interview for the documentary "Bombers on the Prairie: The B-29 in Kansas")
The following information is applicable to all 1,620 B-29s built by the Boeing Airplane Company at their Wichita, Kansas plant between September 1943 and October 1945; to 357 B-29s built by the Bell Aircraft Corporation at Atlanta (Marietta), Georgia, between February 1944 and January 1945; and to the 536 B-29s assembled by Glenn L. Martin Company at Omaha, Nebraska, between January 1944 and September 1945.
Span: 141 ft., 2 in.
Length: 99 ft.
Height: 27 ft., 9 in. (tail fin)
Wing Area: 1,736 sq. ft.
Empty: 70,140 lbs.
Loaded: 135,000 lbs. with 12,000 lb. bomb load
Powerpack Four Wright R03559-23 Cyclone 18-cylinder radials each with a pair of General Electric B-11 Superchargers to give 2,200 brake horsepower at takeoff.
Propellers: Four-blade Hamilton Standard Hydromatics (16 ft., 7 in. in diameter) with constant-speed governors and hydraulic operations for pitch change and feathering. Engine gear ratio was 0.35 (that is, the propeller turned at just over one-third of the engine revolutions, so at 2,800 engine r.p.m. the propeller was turning at 980 r.p.m.
Maximum Range: 3,250 miles at 25,000 ft., with full fuel and 5,000 lb. bomb load (this was raised to 4,100 miles under the same load conditions by the addition of auxiliary fuel tanks in the bomb bays of later models).
Practical Operational Radius: 1,600 miles, rising to 1,800 miles after engine and fuel improvements.
Maximum Ferry Range: 5,600 miles, rising to 6,000 miles after improvements.
Maximum Speed: 375 m.p.h. at 25,000 ft. (although speeds in excess of 450 m.p.h. were recorded in the jet stream over Japan in 1944-45).
Normal Cruising Speed: 200-250 m.p.h.
Fuel-load Capacity: 8,198 U.S. gallons on early models, carried in four wing-tanks. Increased to 9,548 U.S. gallons after the installation of extra tanks in the wing center section on Boeing production block 25, Bell incorporated the same on block 5, all Martin B-29s had them standard fit. Under operational conditions a B-29 would carry 6,988 U.S. gallons only if the semi-permanent fuel tanks in one of the two bomb bays were taken out.
Rate of Climb: 38 minutes to 25,000 ft. at 110,000 lbs. gross weight.
Service Ceiling: 31,850 ft.
Bomb Load: 5,000 lbs. over 1,600 mile radius at high altitude; 12,000 lbs. over 1,600 mile radius at medium altitude; 20,000 lbs. maximum over short distances at low altitude. High explosive and incendiary bombs carried, either exclusively or mixed, depending on type of raid.
Armament: Ten 0.5 in. (50 Caliber) machine guns and one 20 mm. cannon and two 0.5 in. in the tail, two 0.5 in. in each of the four remotely-controlled power turrets.
Eleven-Man Crew comprising:
Aircraft Commander (sometimes termed the Command Pilot)
Pilot (sometimes termed the Co-Pilot)
Central Fire Control Gunner
Left Side Gunner
Right Side Gunner
The first six were housed in the forward pressurized cabin, connected by a 34 in. diameter tube to the next four in the mid-fuselage pressurized area. The tail gunner, in his own completely separate pressurized turret, was in the rear. The Aircraft Commander, Pilot, Bombardier, Navigator and Flight Engineer were all officers, the remainder enlisted men. The post of Flight Engineer was gradually opened to suitable qualified enlisted men as World War II progressed.
For more information about the story of the B-29 Superfortress in Kansas, we suggest you visit: Bombers on the Prairie: The B-29 in Kansas, the website for a Kansas-produced documentary on this topic.
Contact: B-29 Memorial