Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Fifi by William 74
Fifi, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

One of the largest aircraft used during World War Two, Boeing's B-29 Superfortress was also one of the most advanced piston-engined craft of the era. In a time when pilots still had to rely on oxygen masks at altitude, and defensive gunners often stood at open windows, the B-29 had a pressurized cabin and an advanced remotely controlled armament system. The B-29 could also cruise at very high altitudes and speeds, with maximums of 40,000 feet and 350 mph, respectively. It was truly a remarkable airplane for the late 40's.

Despite teething troubles-particularly with the new Wright R-3350 engines-the B-29 managed to become a successful bomber, and was instrumental in the air war in the Pacific. It also continued in service through the 1950's, the final airframes being retired in the early 60's. The B-29 proved to be a fairly versatile airplane, being used as a testbed for new technologies, weather tracking, and possibly most famously as the mother ship for the Bell X-1 project, which culminated in Chuck Yeager's supersonic flight.

This is Fifi, which is flown at airshows by the Commemorative Air Force. Of the 3,970 B-29's built between 1943 and 1946, just twenty-six survive, and Fifi is the only one that's airworthy.

No comments:

Post a Comment