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Watch: The B-29 May Have Been The Arsenal of Democracy’s Greatest Achievement

The Superfortress Brought The War Back To Japan, But It Took A Herculean Effort To Get It Done

Official US Air Force Photograph

When the United States was at war with Japan the propaganda films of the time were often shown in movie theaters to audiences who had husbands, sons, nephews, and cousins- some their entire families, waging that war. The film “The Birth of the B-29” was produced in 1945 and labeled “War Film 30” by the US War Department. Millions saw it during wartime. Starring the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber and a supporting cast of the thousands who designed and built them, the film reveals the massive effort necessary to bring the most advanced bomber in the arsenal into service. The film was uploaded to YouTube by PeriscopeFilm.

Launching the B-29 was a massive undertaking

B-29s were assembled in no less than four main factories and hundreds of sub-assembly facilities. Boeing built B-29s at their primary facility in Renton, Washington and at a second factory in Wichita, Kansas. Bell built B-29s at their facility in Marietta, Georgia, and Martin built Superfortresses at their facility in Omaha, Nebraska. Between them these main assembly plants built 3,970 of the bombers.

Official US Air Force Photograph

B-29s were also experimentally converted to use Allison V-3420-17 liquid-cooled W24 (twin-V12, common crankcase) inline engines (XB-39), and Pratt & Whitney R-4360-33 radial engines (XB-44), which became the basis for the B-50. In the early days of aerial refueling the KB-29M (drogue) and KB-29P (rigid boom) tankers passed some of the first gas to Strategic Air Command (SAC) bombers. SB-29 Super Dumbos flew air rescue missions with underslung radar and air-droppable lifeboats.

Official US Air Force Photograph

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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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