in the Korean War
An Aerial Photographers Point of View
by Wayland Mayo
INTRODUCTION TO THE B AND RB-29
The B-29, with its awesome destructive power,
is legendary. We all consider the atomic drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
as being the most devastating of all. However, the incendiary attacks
on Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka actually caused greater damage than both
atomic attacks. The M-69, M-47, and M-15 magnesium thermite incendiaries
would have eventually leveled every city in Japan. Targets in Korea
were far more difficult to hit due to the dispersion of enemy troops.
Bridges were difficult to hit, with most bomb runs straddling the bridge.
Airfields that were hit one day were repaired for use the next day.
We did not possess the smart bomb that is so effective today.
So we pretty well know about the B-29 accomplishments, but what about
the RB-29. This story contains my personal observation and evaluation
of the RB-29. We will begin with a look at production problems with
the B-29, along with some technical specifications. Then we will take
a look at the purpose of the RB, and the camera configuration.
The first production B-29 rolled off the assembly
line at the Boeing plant in Wichita in 1943. Numerous problems almost
kept it from ever being produced. The R-3350 engine malfunctioned
repeatedly, mostly from overheating and fires. The overheating was
occurring around the exhaust valves of the rear row of the 18 cylinder
engine, causing complete engine failure.
Ctsy Aero Publishers, Inc. (Boeing 62450/BW11392)
The pressurization system was unique in that the front
compartment and the rear compartment were both pressurized. Since the
two compartments were separated
The first B-29s produced had twelve 50 caliber
machine guns, plus a 20 mm cannon mounted in the tail. The cannon was
later discontinued and only a few were produced. The gunnery system
had a central fire control which used an automatic computer to correct
for airspeed, range, altitude, and temperature. It was sophisticated,
even by todays standards. This system allowed any gunner, except the
tail gunner, to take over more than one power driven turret. Gunners
did not have actual contact with the guns, as they were fired from remote
stations using a sighting device.
head gunner, or central fire control man, sat in an elevated revolving
barber chair. He could look out the top of the aircraft and
had primary control over the upper forward and upper aft turrets. The
gunners compartment was just aft of the rear bomb bay. The left and right
gunners looked out a Plexiglas dome on each side of the aircraft. The
CFC man sat in the middle of the section and also had a dome on top of
the aircraft. The sighting device was unique in that the gunner did not
have to take a lead on the target.
Ctsy. Aero Publishers, Inc.
of speed or direction of flight the sight automatically calculated the lead,
so the gunner could keep his sight fixed on the target at all times. Beside
being gunners, they also acted as scanners, relaying information to the
pilot as to the position of the gear, flaps, oil leaks, or any other problems.
End of Chapter 01 Go to Chapter 02