B-29s SET SPEED, ALTITUDE, DISTANCE RECORDS
A few weeks after the war ended, 20th Air Force received orders to make a non-stop flight with three B-29s from Japan to Washington. Four B-29s were selected, stripped of all armament, polished and waxed. Their group markings were completely removed and the 20th Air Force insignia painted on their tails. One aircraft was a stand-by, and the others were numbered 1, 2, and 3. Each was commanded by a General and crewed by veterans. This is the lead plane, commanded by General Barney Giles; General Curtis LeMay was in #2; General “Rosie” O’Donnell flew #3. A fuel shortage in Giles airplane caused all three to land at Chicago.
Each airplane carried a twelve man crew and 10,000 gallons of fuel, and while the flight had to stop over at Chicago before reaching their goal, the planes had carried out the first non-stop flight from Japan to the United States. Within three weeks, General Frank Armstrong in FLUFFY FUZ IV led four B-29s from Japan to Washington in 27 hours. The climax from of the distance flights came on November 20, 1945, when Colonel “Bill” Irvine set a new world nonstop record by flying the B-29B DREAMBOAT from Guam to Washington, a distance of 8,198 miles. Their B-29 had been lightened down to 66,000 pounds empty weight, but gross weight at takeoff from Guam was 151,000 pounds – the fuel-laden B-29 was indicating 145 miles an hour before the runway ended and she took to the air. Soon after, Irvine flew the airplane from Burbank to New York to set a new transcontinental record, averaging 451.9 miles per hour. Irvine flew THE CHALLENGER from Long Beach to Oahu, then in March 1946 took FLUFFY FUZ V from Honolulu to Manila nonstop. Irvine said the record, 21 hours and 49 minutes, was “accidental”, as it was a routine flight.
Back on Guam, Irvine directed ground operations for the “Marathon Project” during May 1946, and the following records were achieved: THE CHALLENGER was flown to 41,561 feet true altitude with a 10,000kg load, and to 39,500 feet with 15,000kg. A B-29 named QUEEN OF THE NECHES, 44-84065, carried 2,000kg to 46,522 feet on May 13, then on the following day took 5,000kg to 45,252 feet. FLUFFY FUZ IV made 47,910 feet carrying 1,000kg. In October Irvine was breaking records again. With modified PACUSAN DREAMBOAT, grossing 149,000 pounds and carrying 13,400 gallons of fuel, Irvine took off from Honolulu and flew 10,000 over the Arctic to Cairo, Egypt in 39 hours and 36 minutes.
The B-29B PACUSAN DREAMBOAT, 44-84061, was involved in several record flights. Virtually a flying gas tank, this airplane, commanded by Colonel “Bill” Irvine, flew nonstop from Honolulu to Cairo in thirty-nine hours. They took off from Hawaii with a gross weight of 149,000 pounds, including 13,400 gallons of gasoline.
The CHALLENGER, 42-63731, was involved in the “Marathon Project”. In May, 1946, this B-29B carried a 10,999kg load to a true altitude of 41,561 feet.
Statistics from Boeing
Research By Website Historian Wayland Mayo