The Life and Death of Tiger Lil
by Wayland Mayo

Author’s Introduction — Chapter 1

Page 1 of 2 Pages

This story covers the history of a famous airplane from the original
manufacture date to its final tragic end.

A Superfortress Is Born

On a very cold January day in 1944 near Seattle, A beautiful silver bullet rolled off the assembly line at the Boeing-Renton plant. This gleaming aircraft was a B-29A, powered by four R-3350-57 engines, each developing 2200 hp. The A model, of which 1,119 were built, differed from the original B-29. The center wing section was modified, the 20mm cannon was removed from the tail, and two 50 cal. guns were added to the upper forward turret. This gave the A model 12 50 cal. guns mounted in remote controlled turrets, each gun with 1,000 rounds of ammo.

What a magnificent sight. Known as the “Superfortress,” it had a 142 foot wing span, with a maximum speed of 357 mph at 30,000 feet. Everything about this aircraft was the absolute latest in technology, as Boeing engineers had designed sophisticated systems never before seen. The front and rear crew sections were pressurized, connected by a tube which ran over the two huge bomb bays. Even the tail gunner had a separate pressurized compartment. The remote controlled gunnery system was an engineering masterpiece. This particular aircraft was delivered to the Air Force on 31 January, 1944, bearing the serial number 42-94000.

In Feb. 1944 it was flown to the Denver Modification Center where it was modified to an F-13A photographic plane. A total of 117 B-29A models were modified to carry a tri-metrogon set up consisting of three K-17B 6 inch cameras, two K-22 cameras with focal plane shutters mounted in a fixed mount, and an adjustable mount which would hold a variety of cameras.

Above: Illustrates assembly of the B-29A model. The forward pressurized section, which was occupied by two pilots, the bombardier, the flight engineer, the navigator and the radio operator, are shown ready for the assembly line.

Below: This photo illustrates the final assembly of the B-29B model at the Boeing-Renton Plant. This was a modification of the A-model in which all gun turrets and the remote controlled firing system were removed. Only the tail gun position remained. The F-13s (later known as the RB-29s) were remodeled from the B-29A configuration. Photos ctsy. Boeing Archives

Later, in 1948, the F-13A was redesignated to a RB-29A. After modification to F-13A in Denver, 42-94000, normally referred to as 4000, was assigned to the Second Air Force in Herrington, Kansas.

End of Page 1 of 2 Pages, Chapter 1 — Go to Page 2

Cover PageIntro/Table of Contents

Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3

Home Page