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World War II: The Legacy of the B-29 'Superfortress' Bomber

The plane would become the long range, heavy bombing workhorse of the Pacific theater of World War II.

On September 21, 1942, the maiden flight of the Boeing B-29 "Superfortress" took place.

The plane was the successor of Boeing's ultra-tough B-17 "Flying Fortress," and the predecessor to the B-52 "Stratofortress," which is still in use today.

The plane would become the long range, heavy bombing workhorse of the Pacific theater of World War II, where it achieved fame and infamy for dropping Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Relive the legacy of this iconic bomber in the slides below.

The B-29 was very advanced for its time, featuring a pressurized cabin, tricycle dual-wheeled landing gear, and remote controlled gun turrets.

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Only the front and back compartments were pressurized, meaning that the crew had to crawl over the bomb bay via a narrow 35-foot tunnel.

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At the time, it was the heaviest production plane in the world, weighing in at 105,000 pounds with an optional 20,000 pounds of bombs.

At the time, it was the heaviest production plane in the world, weighing in at 105,000 pounds with an optional 20,000 pounds of bombs.
A B-29 from the 468th Bombardment group attacking Hatto, Formosa on 18 October 1944 with high-explosive bombs. Overshot runway due to prop failure Jun 17, 1945 at West Field, Tinian.US Army Air Forces Birdsall, Stephen via Wikimedia Commons

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In addition to bombs, the B-29 was armed with 12 remotely controlled .50 caliber Browning machine guns and a 20 millimeter cannon at the tail gun.

In addition to bombs, the B-29 was armed with 12 remotely controlled .50 caliber Browning machine guns and a 20 millimeter cannon at the tail gun.
Kenneth W. Roberts, of Weitchpee, Calif., assigned to the Japan-based 98th Bomb Wing, checks his trio of .50 caliber tail-stingers before another mission over North Korea in his U.S. Air Force B-29 "Superfortress".US National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons

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Here is rare color footage of a formation of B-29s dropping bombs.

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And watch the .50 caliber Browning machine guns take out a Japanese Zero.

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Famously, the Enola Gay bombed Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Three days later, another B-29, the Bockscar, bombed Nagasaki.

Famously, the Enola Gay bombed Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Three days later, another B-29, the Bockscar, bombed Nagasaki.
The crew of the Enola Gay stands outside the plane.US Department of Energy

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After World War II, the B-29 went on to face jet-powered fighters in the Korean war.

After World War II, the B-29 went on to face jet-powered fighters in the Korean war.
A US F-84E refueling from a B-29 Superfortress over Korea.US Air Force via Wikimedia Commons

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Of about 4,000 B-29s produced, only one, the Fifi, remains airworthy. It is owned and maintained by is owned by the Commemorative Air Force, based at Addison, Texas.

Of about 4,000 B-29s produced, only one, the Fifi, remains airworthy. It is owned and maintained by is owned by the Commemorative Air Force, based at Addison, Texas.
The last flying B-29 at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.Ilikerio via Wikimedia Commons

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