Boeing B-29B Superfortress Specifications (1950)

Boeing B-29B Superfortress Specifications (1950)

Boeing B-29B Superfortress Specifications (1950)

Mission

The main objective of the B-29B is to destruct enemy materials and facilities through aerial bombardment.

Development

The B-29B, a lightened version of the Superfortress, was exclusively manufactured by Bell-Atlanta. Production commenced with the first acceptance from Bell in January 1945 and was completed by September 1945. Instead of being ordered in a single large batch, the B-29Bs were ordered in small batches, sometimes individually, from the B-29-BA production lines. Between January and September 1945, a total of 311 B-29Bs were constructed.

Differences with B-29

The B-29B is a streamlined version of the B-29 airplane, featuring several notable modifications. These changes include a transfer type fuel system, a reduced crew of ten, the removal of all turrets and accessories except for the tail turret (which houses three .50 caliber guns and a gunner), smooth closures for all turret and sight openings, and the incorporation of radar systems for navigation, bombing through overcast conditions, and night fighter protection in the tail.

Boeing B-29B Superfortress Pacusan Dreamboat
In 1946, the renowned B-29B aircraft ‘Pacusan Dreamboat’ played a pivotal role in establishing the air route from Hawaii to Cairo through the Polar regions.(National Archives)

Distinguishing B-29Bs from the ‘ordinary’ B-29s, which were also stripped of their machine gun turrets to save weight during General LeMay’s firebombing campaign against Japan in 1945, can be challenging. However, the B-29Bs can be identified by their serial numbers and the presence of an external radar antenna located at the extreme tail.

Boeing B-29B Superfortress Pacusan Dreamboat
Another photo of Pacusan Dreamboat. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Dimensions and Weights

Boeing B-29B Superfortress Dimensions
DIMENSIONSImperial Metric
Wing
  • Span
  • 141.2 ft43 m
  • Incidence
  • Dihedral
  • 4°29'23"4°29'23"
  • Sweepback(LE)
  • 7°1'26"7°1'26"
  • Wing Area
  • 1720 ft2159.8 m2
  • Aspect Ratio
  • 11.511.5
  • Wing Section
  • Boeing 117Boeing 117
  • M.A.C.
  • 154.4147.1 m
    Length99 ft30.2 m
    Height27.8 ft8.5 m
    Tread28.5 ft8.7 m
    Prop. Grd Clearance1.3 ft0.4 m
    WEIGHTS
    Loading
  • Empty (A)
  • 68,821 lbs31.217 kg
  • Basic (A)
  • 68,821 lbs32.061 kg
    Operating
  • Design
  • 120,000 lbs54.431 kg
  • Combat (*)
  • 96,126 lbs43.602 kg
  • Max Take Off (1)
  • 137,014 lbs62.149 kg
  • Max Landing (2)
  • 135,000 lbs61.235 kg

    (A) Actual
    (*) For basic mission
    (1) Limited by performance
    (2) Limited by gear strength

    Engines

    Attribute Value
    POWER PLANT
  • No, & Model
  • (4) R-3350-57 or-57A
  • Manufacturer
  • Curtiss - Wright Corp., Wright Aeronautical Corp. Division
  • Engine Spec
  • 95-28266-5
  • Sup
  • (Dual Turbo) B-11 or B-31
  • Red, Gear Ratio
  • 0.35
    PROPELLER
  • Propeller Manufacturer
  • United Aircraft Corp., Hamilton Standard Propeller Division
  • Blade Design No.
  • 6521A-6
  • Propeller Type
  • Hydromatic
  • No. Blades
  • 4
  • Propeller Diameter
  • 16' 7" (5 m)
    ENGINE RATINGS
  • Take Off
  • 2200/2800rpm
  • Military
  • 2200/2600rpm/2500ft
  • Normal
  • 2000/2400rpm/4000ft

    Electronics

    The electronic suite of the B-29B, as of 1950, consisted of the following components:

    EquipmentUS Designation
    VHF CommandAN/ARC-3
    InterphoneAN/AIC-2A
    LiaisonAN/ARC-8
    Radio CompassAN/ARN-7
    Marker BeaconRC-193A
    Homing AdapterAN/ARR-1
    LocalizerRC-103
    Glide PathAN/ARN-5A
    Radio AltimeterSCR-718C
    InterrogatorSCR-729
    RadarAN/APQ-7 or AN/APQ-23A
    LoranAN/APN-9 or AN/APN-4
    IFFSCR-695
    RavenRCM

    Crew

    Boeing B-29B Superfortress Crew and sections

    The B-29B’s crew composition was streamlined due to the changes in its defensive armament. As a result, right and left-side gunners were no longer needed, and the central fire control gunner sometimes served as an observer. Additionally, the radar operator could often take on the bombardier’s responsibilities. This allowed the aircraft to operate with a reduced crew of seven to eight members, as fewer gunners were necessary.

    However, the B-29B typically carried up to ten crew members including two scanners. The role of the scanners was to keep an eye out for both friendly and enemy aircraft in the vicinity.

    The B-29B crew list was:

    1. Pilot
    2. Co-pilot
    3. Navigator
    4. Flight engineer
    5. Bombardier
    6. Radio operator
    7. Radar operator
    8. Left scanner
    9. Right scanner
    10. Tail gunner

    Fuel system

    Boeing B-29B Superfortress Fuel system

    LocationNo. TanksGalsLiters
    Wing, outbond*226409993
    Wing, inbound*2283010713
    Wing, center*113335046
    Bomb bay225609691
    Total936335443

    (*) Self Sealing tanks

    Bombs and Guns

    Defensive armament

    The B-29B aircraft underwent modifications to its defensive armament in response to combat experiences in the Pacific, where the primary enemy fighter attacks were observed to come from the rear. As a result, all fuselage turrets, removable turret structures, related turret equipment, and armament were removed, leaving only the tail gun and sighting station. Flush covers were placed over the turret and sighting blister locations.

    The tail gun was upgraded with the addition of a third .50cal machine gun, increased ammunition provisions, and an advanced AN/APG-15B airborne radar-directed fire control system called the Airborne Radar Gun Sighting System. This innovative system was designed to detect approaching enemy aircraft, lock on to them, and automatically fire the necessary guns. It made all the necessary calculations for tracking and firing on enemy aircraft by coupling to the GE gun computer and IFF (“Ella”) units.

    To reduce weight, the armor was removed from the B-29B except for the glass in front of the airplane commander’s position and the armor and glass in the tail gunner’s position. Flak protection was also removed, except for the Dural plate situated behind the airplane commander’s position.

    No.Calibre/ Rounds eachLocation
    2.50 / 500Tail turret
    1.50 / 380Tail turret

    Bombs

    In practice, the B-29B was capable of carrying even larger payloads by operating at lower altitudes, which optimized fuel consumption. While its maximum bomb load was 20,000 lb, it could reach up to 22,800 lb when carrying a mixed incendiary load.

    No.SizeType
    44000 lbsGeneral-purpose (G.P.)
    82000 lbsGeneral-purpose (G.P.)
    121600 lbsArmor-piercing (A.P.)
    121000 lbsGeneral-purpose (G.P.)
    40500 lbsGeneral-purpose (G.P.)

    Performance

    By removing the turrets and the related General Electric computerized gun system, the B-29B Superfortress gained an increase in top speed. This made the aircraft well-suited for swift, unescorted bombing raids and reconnaissance missions that relied on hit-and-run tactics.

    The basic performance of the B-29B was the following:

    Combat radius

    2122 nm

    with 10,000 lb of payload at 208 knots avg. in 20.66 hours

    Combat range

    3926 nm

    with 10,000 lb of payload at 191 knots avg. in 20.73 hours

    Combat speed

    344 kn

    at 25,000 ft alt, max power

    Maximum speed

    360 kn


    at 30,000 ft alt, max power

    Climb

    618/1820

    fpm sea level, take-off weight normal power
    /fpm sea level, combat weight max power

    Ceiling

    30,250/
    38,000 ft

    100 fpm, take-off weight, normal power
    /500 fpm, combat weight max power

    Loading and Performance

    Basic mission, Max bombs mission, High alt. mission

    ConditionsBasic missionMax Bombs Mission
    TAKE-OFF WEIGHT135,744 lb61.572 kg136,464 lb61.899 kg
  • Fuel at 6. lb/gal
  • 48,498 lb21.998 kg40,818 lb18.515 kg
  • Military load (Bombs)
  • 10,000 lb4.536 kg20,000 lb9.072 kg
  • Wing loading
  • 79.0 lb/sq ft 385,7 kg/m279.3 lb/sq ft387.,1 kg/m2
  • Stall speed (power off)
  • 102 kn189 km/h102 kn189 km/h
  • Take-off ground run at SL
  • 4,800 ft1.463 m4,860 ft1.481 m
  • Take-off to clear 50 ft
  • 7,125 ft2.172 m7,225 ft2.202 m
  • Rate-of-climb at SL (3)
  • 618 fpm188 m/min602 fpm183 m/min
  • Time: SL to 10,000 ft (3)
  • 18.5 min 18.8 min
  • Time: SL to 20,000 ft
  • 43.5 min 45.0 min
  • Service ceiling (100 fpm)
  • 30,250 ft9.220 m29,900 ft9.114 m
  • Service ceiling (one engine out)(2)
  • 26,200 ft7.986 m25,800 ft7.864 m
    COMBAT RANGE3,926 n.mi7.271 km3,076 n.mi5.697 km
  • Avg cruising speed
  • 191 kn354 km/h195 kn361 km/h
  • Cruising altitude
  • 10,000 ft3.048 m10,000 ft3.048 m
  • Total mission time
  • 20.73 hr 15.94 hr
    COMBAT RADIUS (5)2,122 n.mi3.930 km1,725 n.mi3.195 km
  • Avg cruising speed
  • 208 kn385 km/h210 kn389 km/h
  • Cruising altitude (s)
  • 10,000 ft & 25,000 ft3.048 m & 7.620 m 10,000 ft & 25,000 ft3.048 m & 7.620 m
  • Total mission time
  • 20.66 hr 16.69 hr
    COMBAT WEIGHT (6)96,126 lb43.602 kg92,353 lb41.891 kg
  • Combat altitude
  • 25,000 ft7.620 m25,000 ft7.620 m
  • Combat speed (2)
  • 344 kn637 km/h345 kn639 km/h
  • Combat climb
  • 1,480 fpm451 m/min1,610 fpm491 m/min
  • Combat ceiling (500 fpm) (2)
  • 38,000 ft11.582 m38,750 ft11.811 m
  • Service ceiling (100 fpm) (3)
  • 41,400 ft12.619 m42,300 ft12.893 m
  • Service ceiling (one engine out)(3)
  • 37,200 ft11.339 m38,100 ft11.613 m
  • Max rate-of-climb at SL(2)
  • 1,820 fpm555 m/min1,925 fpm587 m/min
  • Max speed at 10,000 ft(2)
  • 360 kn667 km/h361 kn669 km/h
    LANDING WEIGHT78,071 lb35.412 kg77,687 lb35.238 kg
  • Ground roll at SL(4)
  • 2,100 ft640 m2,090 ft637 m
  • Total from 50 ft(4)
  • 2,800 ft853 m2,790 ft850 m

    NOTES
    (1) Take-off power
    (2) Max power
    (3) Normal power
    (4) Take-off and landing distances are obtainable at sea level using normal techniques. For airport planning, distances should be increased by appropriate factors to determine runway requirements.

    High Alt. Mission, Ferry Range

    ConditionsHigh Alt. MissionFerry Range
    TAKE-OFF WEIGHT135,744 lb61.572 kg135,024 lb61.246 kg
  • Fuel at 6. lb/gal
  • 48,498 lb21.998 kg56,178 lb25.482 kg
  • Military load (Bombs)
  • 10,000 lb4.536 kg
  • Wing loading
  • 79.0 lb/sq ft 385,7 kg/m278.5 lb/sq ft383.2 kg/m2
  • Stall speed (power off)
  • 102 kn189 km/h102 kn189 km/h
  • Take-off ground run at SL
  • 4,800 ft1463 m4,725 ft1.440 m
  • Take-off to clear 50 ft
  • 7,125 ft2.172 m7,025 ft2.141 m
  • Rate-of-climb at SL (3)
  • 618 fpm188 m/min625 fpm191 m/min
  • Time: SL to 10,000 ft (3)
  • 18,5 min 18.2 min
  • Time: SL to 20,000 ft
  • 43,5 min 43.0 min
  • Service ceiling (100 fpm)
  • 30,250 ft9.220 m30,600 ft9.327 m
  • Service ceiling (one engine out)(2)
  • 26,200 ft7.986 m26,550 ft8.092 m
    COMBAT RANGE3,505 n.mi6.491 km4,939 n.mi9.147 km
  • Avg cruising speed
  • 267 kn494 km/h185 kn343 km/h
  • Cruising altitude
  • 25,000 ft7.620 m10,000 ft3.048 m
  • Total mission time
  • 13.27 hr 26.83 hr
    COMBAT RADIUS (5)1,959 n.mi3.628 km
  • Avg cruising speed
  • 235 kn435 km/h
  • Cruising altitude (s)
  • 25,000 ft & 30,000 ft7.620 m & 9144 m
  • Total mission time
  • 16.86 hr
    COMBAT WEIGHT (6)95,320 lb43.236 kg81,263 lb36.860 kg
  • Combat altitude
  • 30,000 ft9.144 m10,000 ft3.048 m
  • Combat speed (2)
  • 360 kn667 km/h308 kn570 km/h
  • Combat climb
  • 1,375 fpm419 m/min2,210 fpm674 m/min
  • Combat ceiling (500 fpm) (2)
  • 38,200 ft11.643 m41,450 ft12.634 m
  • Service ceiling (100 fpm) (3)
  • 41,650 ft12.695 m44,950 ft13.701 m
  • Service ceiling (one engine out)(3)
  • 37,400 ft11.400 m40,900 ft12.466 m
  • Max rate-of-climb at SL(2)
  • 1,840 fpm561 m/min2,330 fpm710 m/min
  • Max speed at 10,000 ft(2)
  • 360 kn667 km/h368 kn682 km/h
    LANDING WEIGHT78,071 lb35.412 kg81,263 lb36.860 kg
  • Ground roll at SL(4)
  • 2,100 ft640 m2,180 ft664 m
  • Total from 50 ft(4)
  • 2,800 ft853 m2,900 ft884 m

    NOTES
    (1) Take-off power
    (2) Max power
    (3) Normal power
    (4) Take-off and landing distances are obtainable at sea level using normal techniques. For airport planning, distances should be increased by appropriate factors to determine runway requirements.

    Further reading

    Bibliography

    • B-29 Superfortress: Giant Bomber of World War 2 and Korea by Graham Simons
    • Boeing B-29 Superfortress: The Ultimate Look: From Drawing Board to VJ-Day by William Wolf
    • B-29B Superfortress Standard Aircraft Characteristics 19-APR-1950, Air Materiel Command, U.S. Air Force

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    Javier Guerrero
    Javier Guerrero
    Javier is the editor @ Nuclear Companion and loves to investigate and write about the cold war.

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