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List of surviving Boeing B-29 Superfortresses
B29 March AFB 01.jpg
B-29A 44-61669 49 Three Feathers at the March Field Air Museum, California

List of surviving Boeing B-29 Superfortresses highlights the history of many well known flying and static display B-29s in the United States. A list is also provided of other B-29s on display around the world; including location, model and serial numbers, brief history, nicknames/markings, and conditions.

Background

In September 1945, immediately after the surrender of Japan, all contracts for further production of the B-29 were terminated after 3,970 aircraft (2,766 by Boeing Aircraft, 668 by Bell Aircraft and 536 by Glenn L. Martin Co.) were accepted by the USAAF. Uncompleted airframes at the Boeing Plant in Wichita, Kansas plant were stripped of all government furnished equipment and scrapped on the flightline.[1]

A vast majority all of the B-29s were stored by a new process of cocooning. However, this process trapped heat and moisture, resulting in numerous airframes being damaged by this process (primarily the avionics and instruments). Between 1946 and 1949, many early and high-time combat veteran aircraft were sold or scrapped. None were released to civilian use.

B-50 was introduced

While the B-29 was still considered useful in the post World War II inventory, the numerous problems with development, (i.e. including the freezing of the design in 1942) and the fear that the postwar US Congress would not fund the purchase of a design that still had significant quantity in storage, led to the radically redeveloped B-29D being redesignated the B-50A. While the B-50A looked similar to the B-29, Boeing had redeveloped the airframe with a new stronger alloy skin, redesigned main spar, taller vertical stabilizer and improved engine cowlings. Additionally, the engines were changed to the R-4360, which produced higher power, had better cooling and were less prone to failure.

Korean War and super bomber designs

In 1947, with the advent of the USAF, the B-29 was redesignated as a medium bomber. With the new heavy bombers in production Convair B-36 Peacemaker and Northrop YB-49 and the planned production of both the Boeing B-47 Stratojet and the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress becoming a reality, the Superfortress was quickly starting to become eclipsed by technology. It was only the advent of the Korean War in 1950 which slowed down the retirement of the B-29. Once again, the Superfortress was pressed into combat; while for the first 6 months the B-29 was able to hold its own, the introduction of jet fighters such as the MiG-15 ended its usefulness; the B-29 was too slow and its defenses were inadequate against fast-moving jets. By 1953, except for some RB-29s, B-29s were withdrawn from combat. The remaining B-29s in service were then redesignated as Training (TB-29), Photo Recon (RB-29/F-13), Air-Sea Rescue (SB-29) and refueling/tanker (KB-29M) aircraft. The last USAF flight was in September 1960.

Loaned to the UK

As a stop-gap measure between the Lancaster and Lincoln propeller-driven heavy bombers and new jet V bombers, the Royal Air Force operated 88 leased B-29s in the early 1950s. These received the service name Washington Bomber Mark I. The Washingtons were largely replaced in service by English Electric Canberra bombers by 1955, the last leaving service in late 1958 when they were retired and returned to the United States. Several Washingtons were given to Australia, but within one year they were retired and scrapped.

NACA and the X-planes

The B-29 did enjoy limited success postwar as a flying testbed, being used with NACA to carry the early rocket aircraft (X-1, X-1A, D-558-2 and other test aircraft), prototype jet engine testing, electronic test ships and High Altitude Atmospheric tests..

The majority of the surviving B-29 came from airframes that had either been designated (with the US Navy at NAWS China Lake), initially, as target-tow aircraft, then unmanned target aircraft, finally as a ground target (the last B-29 destroyed was in 1981 more than six years after a ban had been placed on further using these aircraft as targets). Furthermore, B-29s were used at Aberdeen Proving Grounds as ground targets and survivability studies.

Museum acquisitions of B-29s

In 1966, the then fledgling Commemorative Air Force, in their quest to gather an example of all the remaining World War II bombers attempted to track down a B-29. At this time, except for two noted museum aircraft, the B-29 was considered an almost extinct aircraft. Rumors of B-29s existing at Aberdeen revealed several airframes, but due to the closeness of ocean air these aircraft were corroded close to the point of unrestorability. In 1970 came the discovery of the US Navy fleet of aircraft at NAS China Lake – these aircraft being used/stored in the desert air were in much better shape. After a year of negotiation, the CAF was able to obtain their B-29 (Fifi). These same negotiations also allowed the Imperial War Museum to obtain an example as well (It's Hawg Wild). During the early 1970s, NASA (the redesigned NACA) sold their P2B-1S (Fertile Myrtle) and for numerous years this aircraft flew under civil registration until it was grounded by spar corrosion.

Since the early 1970s, numerous aircraft have been removed from Aberdeen Proving Grounds as well as NAS China Lake for museum displays – the last B-29 removed from China Lake is currently being restored to flying condition (Doc). There are still two partial airframes and one wreck at the NAS China Lake site. Several other aircraft were noted as late as 1980 but these aircraft have disappeared – four having been used in the Disney Picture Last Flight of Noah’s Ark, in which two of the airframes were destroyed during production. Additional aircraft have been discovered at both post-war crash sites and near World War II Pacific airfields. At least four B-29 wrecks on Guam and several on Saipan are known to exist. There is a search for the first B-29 to bomb Japan, Dauntless Dottie[2] which crashed into the Pacific Ocean on take-off during her return flight to the United States. If the airplane is found there are plans to recover and restore it for display. In 1995 an attempt to recover the Kee Bird, which had crashed in 1947 in northern Greenland, resulted in the complete destruction of the plane by fire.[3]

Notable individual aircraft

B-29 44-27297 Bockscar at the USAF Museum

Bockscar

Bockscar, serial number 44-27297, was a "Silverplate" (atomic bomb carrier) conversion with the 393d Bomb Squadron, 509th Composite Group. On 9 August 1945 it dropped the "Fat Man" plutonium atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Bocks Car was stored for many years and then was finally flown on 26 September 1961 to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. It is the featured exhibit upon entry into the Museum's Air Power gallery.[4]

Doc

Serial number 44-69972 served in the Korean War as a radar trainer. It was later sent to the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake for use as a ballistic missile target. The airframe was acquired by the United States Aviation Museum for restoration to flight status. After a great deal of work at the Boeing plant in Wichita, Kansas where it was originally built, the aircraft was moved in March 2007 to the Kansas Aviation Museum. In February 2013, the aircraft was acquired by the non-profit organization "Doc's Friends," and the restoration to flight status is still underway.

Enola Gay

B-29 44-86292 Enola Gay at the NASM

Enola Gay, serial number 44-86292, was another "Silverplate" conversion for the 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Composite Group. On 6 August 1945 it dropped the "Little Boy" uranium atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. For many years it was in storage at Paul Garber facility at National Air and Space Museum (NASM), Washington, D.C. It was recently re-assembled after a lengthy restoration and is currently displayed at the Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport.

Fertile Myrtle

P2B-1S 84029 Fertile Myrtle's forward fuselage now on display at Fantasy of Flight

Bureau number 84029 (Navy P2B-1S), formerly a USAF B-29 45-21787, was later used to carry the Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket research aircraft. It was donated to an aviation museum in Oakland, California in 1984, and then later sold to Kermit Weeks' Fantasy of Flight museum in Polk City, Florida. It is on the US Civil register as N29KW. It was used in the flying sequences of the 1980 Walt Disney movie The Last Flight of Noah's Ark. The forward fuselage has been restored and is on static display at Fantasy of Flight along with the remainder of the unrestored fuselage on the attraction's new storage facility tour.

Fifi

B-29 44-62070 Fifi of the Commemorative Air Force

Fifi, serial number 44-62070, belongs to the Commemorative Air Force and is the only airworthy B-29 in the world at present. Fifi was grounded in 2006 because of problems with all four engines. In 2008, the Commemorative Air Force and the Cavanaugh Flight Museum announced that Fifi would be re-engined,[5] and returned to flight status. On 15 July 2010 talks with the FAA to sign Fifi's Airworthiness Certificate were completed. Fifi took flight in early August 2010 with its new engines and was flown in the CAF AIRSHO air show in October 2010 and is currently available for rides at select airshows.[6][7][8]

Hagarty's Hag

Serial number 44-86408 was delivered to USAAF the day the Enola Gay dropped the first atomic weapon on Hiroshima, Japan. It was later used to collect radioactive samples during postwar atomic tests, and is now on display at Hill Air Force Base Museum, Utah.

Miss Marilyn Gay

Serial number 44-70113 flew with the 883rd Bomb Squadron of the 500th Bomb Group in the 73rd Bomb Wing of the 20th Air Force, and flew 27 bombing missions before the end of World War II. This B-29 is credited with shooting down a confirmed 3 japanese fighter planes, with 3 more probable fighter kills. After the end of the war, this B-29 was renamed Hoof Hearted, and served over in Great Britain before it was decommissioned in 1956 and sent to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. In 1973, the B-29 was recovered by the now defunct Florence Air & Missile Museum in Florence, South Carolina for restoration. In 1994, the Marietta B-29 Association sponsored restoration and put it on display at Dobbins ARB, Georgia as Sweet Eloise.

Peachy

B-29A 44-62022 Peachy at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum

Serial number 44-62022 is currently on display inside the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum and is named in honor of all the crews who fought in the Pacific Theater. A B-29 by that name was piloted by a native of Pueblo, Lt. Robert T. Haver, who gave it his pet name for a younger sister. The original Peachy flew 35 combat missions into enemy territory from Tinian Island in the Marianas islands chain in the central Pacific. This aircraft was donated to the museum in 1976 by the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, CA and in 2005 it was moved indoors.

Sentimental Journey

Serial number 44-70016 originally flew with the 330th Bomb Group, 20th Air Force from Guam, now displayed inside Hangar 4 at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.

T-Square-54

Serial number 44-69729 (No. 54) was assigned to the 875th Bomb Squadron, 498th Bomb Group, 73d Bomb Wing and completed 37 bombing missions before it was converted to a KB-29 aerial refueling tanker in June 1949. In 1986 it was removed from the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake and transported to the Lowry Heritage Museum at Lowry Air Force Base;[9] now Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum. No. 54 went through its initial level of restoration in 1987 with museum volunteers and was readied for Lowry AFB's 50th anniversary and the 40th anniversary of the USAF on 2 October 1987. It was restored to its 1944 markings with the "T Square 54" on its vertical stabilizer. In 1995 the USAF Museum transferred T-Sq-54 to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. After another level of restoration and change in its markings, it was displayed again 1996.

B-29A 44-61671, a former "Super Dumbo", painted as The Great Artiste for static display at Whiteman Air Force Base

B-29 survivors

South Korea

B-29
  • 45-21739 Unification Kia - indoors at the KAI Aerospace Museum in Sachon.[10]

United Kingdom

B-29A

United States

Airworthy
B-29A
  • 44-62070 Fifi - Commemorative Air Force (B-24/B-29 Squadron) in Addison, Texas.[12] Fifi was returned to airworthy status in August 2010 and flew for the first time since 2006.[13]
On display (complete airframes)
B-29
B-29A

B-29A 44-70064 Raz'n Hell at the Castle Air Museum, California

  • 42-93967 City Of Lansford - outdoors at the Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park in Cordele, Georgia.[25]
  • 44-61535 Raz'n Hell - outdoors at the Castle Air Museum at the former Castle AFB in Atwater, California. It is actually a composite of three B-29s : 44-61535 - tail, 44-84084 - wings, 44-70064 fuselage.[26]
  • 44-61669 Flagship 500 - outdoors at March Field Air Museum at March ARB in Riverside, California.[27]
  • 44-61671 The Great Artiste - originally modified to be an SB-29 "Super Dumbo", now marked to replicate the Silverplate airframe 44-27393, is on static display at the "Spirit Gate" of Whiteman AFB in Knob Noster, Missouri.[28]
  • 44-61975 Jack's Hack - indoors at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.[29]
  • 44-62022 Peachy - indoors at Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum in Pueblo, Colorado.[30]
  • 44-62220 Joltin Josie - outdoors at the USAF History & Traditions Museum on the grounds of Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas.[31]
B-29B
  • 44-84053 Big Red - indoors at the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB in Warner Robins, Georgia.[32]
On display (partial airframes)
B-29
  • 42-65401 (nose section only) - Stockton Field Aviation Museum in Stockton, California. Privately owned by Nick Veronico.[33]
B-29A
Under restoration or in storage (complete airframes)
B-29
  • 44-69729 T Square 54 - shrink-wrapped and stored outdoors with the outer wing panels removed at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. Facilities to store the aircraft indoors with the Museum's B-17 are in the final planning stages.[35]
  • 44-69972 Doc - being restored to active flying status. After a three year absence due to lack of funds, restoration has resumed in February 2013 in the Kansas Air Guard Hangar across from the Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita, Kansas; no longer available to the public.[36]
  • 44-70049 - in storage for Kermit Weeks at Borrego Springs, California. One of 4 B-29's obtained by Disney from China Lake for use in the movie The Last Flight of Noah's Ark.[37]
P2B-1S
  • 45-21787 Fertile Myrtle - Nose Section is on display at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida. The rest of the aircraft is in storage at Aero Trader in Ocotillo Wells, California. This aircraft was used for the flight sequences in the Disney movie The Last Flight of Noah's Ark and the movie The Right Stuff.[38]
Under restoration or in storage (partial airframes)
B-29
  • 42-24791 The Big Time Operator (nose section only) - in storage at the Edward F. Beale Museum in Marysville, CA.[39]
  • 44-69957 (wreckage) - in storage at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California. Took a direct hit from weapons testing. The nose was used in the restoration of 'Doc'.[40]
  • 44-70102 Here's Hopin - in storage at the Naval Museum of Armament & Technology in Ridgecrest, California.[41]
  • 44-84084 - in storage for Kermit Weeks at Borrego Springs, California. One of 4 B-29's obtained by Disney from China Lake for use in the movie The Last Flight of Noah's Ark (see 44-70049 above for the other surviving example). The wings were installed on 44-61535. The other two Disney B-29s were destroyed (44-62112 and 44-62222).[42]
B-29A
Wrecks
B-29
  • 42-65287 - in the ocean off the coast of Aquadilla, Puerto Rico, near the former Ramey AFB.[45]
  • 45-21768 Kee Bird - burned after an attempted recovery. Currently sitting on the bottom of a lake in Greenland.[46]
  • 45-21847 Beetle Bomb - ditched in Lake Mead near Las Vegas, Nevada in 1948 and discovered intact in 2002.[47]
B-29B
  • 44-83905 Lady Of The Lake - submerged in a lake near Eielson AFB, south of Fairbanks, Alaska, where it was placed after being retired for use in training exercises.[48][49]

Related content

References

Notes

  1. Willis, David. "Boeing B-29 and B-50 Superfortress". International Air Power Review, Volume 22, 2007, pp. 136–169.
  2. ,"B-29 'Dauntless Dottie' Story". memphis-belle.com. REtrieved: 13 July 2013.
  3. "Transcript: B-29 Frozen in Time." NOVA PBS Airdate: 29 July 1997. Retrieved: 28 July 2010.
  4. United States Air Force Museum 1975, p. 47.
  5. "B-29 Press Release." Cavanagh Flight Museum, 21 January 2008. Retrieved: 14 July 2013.
  6. "Fifi status." CAF Home Page. Retrieved: 14 July 2013.
  7. ""Fifi" to Fly Soon." Permian Basin 360. Retrieved: 13 July 2013.
  8. Sanders, Peter. "Owners of the Last B-29 Hope It Doesn't Bomb in Its New Mission." Wall Street Journal, 18 October 2010. Retrieved: 27 February 2012.
  9. Mathewson, T. "Retrieved from China Lakes Naval Weapons Range." T-Square. Retrieved: 13 July 2013.
  10. "Superfortress/45-21739." John Weeks B-29 Survivors Retrieved: 24 August 2010.
  11. "Superfortress/44-61748." American Air Museum Duxford Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  12. "Superfortress/44-62070." FAA Registry. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  13. "Fifi." Commemorative Air Force. Retrieved: 13 July 2013.
  14. "Superfortress/42-65281." Jimmy Doolittle Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  15. "Superfortress/44-27297." National Museum of the USAF. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  16. "Superfortress/44-27343." John Weeks B-29 Survivors. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  17. "Superfortress/44-70016." Pima Air & Space Museum Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  18. "Superfortress/44-70113." John Weeks B-29 Survivors. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  19. "Superfortress/44-84076." Strategic Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  20. "Superfortress/44-86292." Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  21. "Superfortress/44-86408." Hill Aerospace Museum Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  22. "Superfortress/44-87627." Eighth Air Force Museum. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  23. "Superfortress/44-87779." South Dakota Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  24. "Superfortress/45-21748." National Atomic Museum. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  25. "Superfortress/42-93967." Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  26. "Superfortress/44-70064." Castle Air Museum. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  27. "Superfortress/44-61669." March Field Air Museum. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  28. "Superfortress/44-61671." The Great Artiste Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  29. "Superfortress/44-61975." New England Air Museum. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  30. "Superfortress/44-62022." Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  31. "Superfortress/44-62220." John Weeks B-29 Survivors. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  32. "Superfortress/44-84053." Museum of Aviation. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  33. "Superfortress/42-65401." Stockton Field Aviation Museum Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  34. "Superfortress/44-87657." National Museum of the USAF. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  35. "Superfortress/44-69729." Museum of Flight Retrieved: 7 April 2012.
  36. "Superfortress/44-69972." Doc's Friends Retrieved: 14 March 2013.
  37. "Superfortress/44-70049." John Weeks B-29 Survivors. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  38. "Superfortress/45-21787." FAA Registry. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  39. "Superfortress/42-24791." John Weeks B-29 Survivors. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  40. "Superfortress/44-69957." China Lake Alumni Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  41. "Superfortress/44-70102." John Weeks B-29 Survivors. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  42. "Superfortress/44-84084." John Weeks B-29 Survivors. Retrieved: 24 August 2010.
  43. "Superfortress/44-61739." John Weeks B-29 Survivors. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  44. "Superfortress/44-62134." China Lake Alumni Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  45. "Superfortress/42-65287." John Weeks B-29 Survivors. Retrieved: 24 August 2010.
  46. "Superfortress/45-21763." John Weeks B-29 Survivors. Retrieved: 24 August 2010.
  47. "Superfortress/45-21847." John Weeks B-29 Survivors. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  48. "Superfortress/44-83905." John Weeks B-29 Survivors. Retrieved: 6 June 2012.
  49. "Lady of the Lake." United States Air Force. Retrieved: 13 July 2013.

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