The B-29 "Superfortress" represents the state-of-the-art in bombardment technology of the 1940s. Many of today's modern military 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 No longer were the bomber crews exposed to freezing weather while attempting to fight off enemy fighters. The "Super Fortress" featured pressurized crew compartments, remotely sighted gun turrets, and sophisticated radar that enabled the B-29 to bomb through overcast. The airframe was flush riveted to reduce wind resistance. The new 2,200 H.P. Wright R-3350 Radial engines enabled the B-29 to fly farther, faster and carry a larger bomb load than any other bomber during World War II.
After the Marianas Islands were taken by U.S. forces in June of 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 1500 miles of the Japanese homeland.
The B-29 is most famous for its role in two history making missions. The first was on 6 August, 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 and ushered in the "Atomic Age". On 9 August 1945, the second atom bomb was dropped on Nagasaki by Major Charles Sweeney. On 14 August 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.
Our B-29 was built at the Glenn L. Martin Company's Omaha, Nebraska assembly line in December of 1944. After World War II, she flew with the 301st Bomb Group of the Strategic Air Command. During the Korean War, she flew with the 373rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Kindley Air Base, Bermuda. In 1956, the B-29 was transferred to the U.S. Navy's Naval Weapons Test Center at China Lake, California. Here she sat out in the desert as a stationary target. In late 1985, the B-29 was dismantled and loaded into a C-5 for the flight to the Travis Heritage Center.
Video narration by Dr. David G. Styles, PhD
Video produced by Kim Bolan
After its arrival at the museum, work began to reassemble the B-29. After the wing was mated to the fuselage, the task of stripping all of the old paint got underway. As the layers of paint were removed, the last layer of paint yielded the nose art - "Miss America '62." "Miss America '62" was a combat veteran that flew from the island of Tinian during the war with the 6th Bombardment Group, 24th Bombardment Squadron. The original crew members chose to name their bomber "Miss America '62" because all were married and 1962 would be the earliest that one of their daughters could be entered into the famous beauty contest.
"I was rather surprised to see it come back after being away from it for 40 years," said Robert Irvin. Irvin served as the Central Fire Control (CFC) gunner in the upper rear of the B-29 controlling the two top turrets. He was a member of the second crew which flew "Miss America '62" during June, July and August of 1945. He flew 12 missions on "Miss America '62" until his crew, commanded by Major James Sapp, was rotated back to the United States for command training. During his 12 missions, they bombed an aircraft plant in Esashi where they were attacked by Japanese fighters flying four abreast firing cannons head on. He was also on a number of night bombing raids, and parachute mining raids to the Inland Seas and the Tsugaru Strait. When Irvin left for the states, "Miss America '62" had flown 43 missions and had accounted for two Japanese fighters destroyed. MSgt. W. R. Patterson was "Miss America '62's" crew chief throughout her entire tour on Tinian.i
Wing Span: 141'3"
Maximum Weight: 141,000 Lbs.
Maximum Speed: 358 M.P.H. at 25,000 Ft.
Service Ceiling: 31,850 Ft.
Range: 4,100 Miles with 16,000 Lbs. of Bombs
Crew/Passengers: 10 crew
Armament: 12 x .50 Cal. Machine Guns, 20,000 Lbs. of Bombs
Information derived from “Travis Heritage Center” by Nick Veronico copyright Travis AFB Historical Society/Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum Foundation. This book is available from the Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum GIFT SHOP located in the Travis Heritage Center.