Research on the B-29 by Jason Cohn
Cover of his paper
JASON A. COHN
It is often thought that men with great vision - those with the most creativity and the wildest imaginations - always look to the future and never to the past. However, it is the past on which the foundation for the future is built, and one must understand the past in order to predict what the future might hold. Even though I aspire to become a space traveler and fly space shuttles to other worlds, I have become aware of the importance of learning about the past, particularly past airplane technology, which is the foundation for aircraft today and spacecraft of tomorrow.
The B-29 Superfortress can aptly be called the airplane that helped us attain victory in World War II, and it most certainly is one of the cornerstones of future aircraft. It is on this aircraft that I have decided I should begin my research.
In the European Theater the B-17 was "the plane" (LeMay). It could carry bombs and supplies over a large area of land. It could accomplish its missions in the day or night. Overall, it was the best plane at the time. In the Pacific Theater, the war was different. It was not fought on land but largely over islands and vast areas of water where refueling was either difficult or nonexistent. Solving this problem meant that the U.S. had to design a plane that would "go the distance," as the B-17 just was not suited for the missions required. Working with the Army Air Corps, Boeing created the B-29 with a $3,615,095 contract that was awarded to them (Marshall 13).
The B-29 was the first
plane of its kind. Having taken the stronger points of the "Flying fortress,"
the B-29 became the "Superfortress" and could do everything the B-17 could
do and much more. First, there was the cockpit. It was larger and more
"open." What that means is that there were more windows giving the crew
greater visibility (B-29 Internet). This was a great advantage to allow
a greater view of the air and to let the crew see approaching enemy aircraft.
The cockpit was also designed to be more aerodynamically efficient so
it could move through the air using a little less fuel. There was one
significant invention that made the B-29 a major success: a pressurized
cabin. This enabled the plane and its crew to fly a great deal higher
than the B-17 (Interview with Sgt. Andy Doty, retired tailgunner) and
be more comfortable during the long flights between airbase and target
and back home. It was equipped with radar and weather-observing instruments.
Another great asset was the maximum payload of the Superfortress. The
B-29 was equipped with two bomb bays, each of which had a payload of 10,000
lb. Therefore, 20,000-lb of bombs could be carried to a target many miles
Adopting the idea of a B-17 with machine guns, the B-29 was armed with an assorted array of weapons and technology so it could defend itself against attacks by enemy aircraft. Mounted on the top near the cockpit was a radio- or electronically controlled turret with four barreled .50-caliber machine guns. A similar turret was mounted on the bottom of the plane under the cockpit and another was located near the tail of the plane. The tailgunner had a .30-caliber or .50-caliber weapon depending upon the plane (Gunston 334).
Because the U.S. had rushed to get the B-29 into service, despite its many good points, it also had some drawbacks. One of its major problems was with the engines (Doty). The plane was extremely heavy. Empty, it weighed 70,140 lb. Loaded, it was designed to carry up to 135,744-lb (Marshall 141). However, the planes were often overloaded to 140,000 to 160,00 gross weight, causing the engines to overheat. Very often, the crew was assigned to sit and watch the engines during the long flights, so at the first sign of overheating or fire, counter measures could be taken (Doty). Yet, the crews flew on and completed their missions. Another factor of the overloaded B-29s was fuel. The heavy planes could barely get off the ground, and a great deal of fuel was expended. Some of the planes did not make it back to their bases and crashed at sea when they ran out of fuel (Doty). A small percentage of B-29 losses were due to such overheating and running out of fuel.
Despite these drawbacks, the use of the B-29 ultimately lead to a victorious end of World War II for the United States. Without the technology provided by Boeing and the manpower supplied by the men and women of the Air Corps (and other branches of the service), the outcome of World War II could have been vastly different, and the world might not be as we know it today. Thanks to these devoted soldiers, democracy and a free nation will live on for many years to come.
Gunston, Bill. The Illustrated Directory of Fighting Aircraft of World War II. New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1988.
He has won numerous awards and championships while training with Liz Jenner at Gateway Farm in Acampo, and he recently returned from Parker, Colorado, where he competed in the USPC National Championships on his Hanoverian mare, Royelle, garnering a prestigious team gold medal and an individual silver medal in dressage. He is very active in the United States Pony Club and will be taking his national-level C-3 rating on his thoroughbred/appaloosa mare, Danzgal, this summer, after he graduates from Lodi High School.
I would like to dedicate this report to the men and women who fought in World War II, to the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom for their families, friends countrymen at home in the United States of America.
You can reach Jason at: firstname.lastname@example.org