The B-29 heavy bomber set new standards in performance, armament and range for this class of aircraft. The B-29A bomber first flew in 1943. During WWII it was used only in the Pacific against the Japanese, first firebombing cities and then finally dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the war it became the main means of intended delivery for nuclear bombs. The USSR copied it as the Tu-4. It was last used operationally in the Korean War conducting strategic bombing of bridges, power plants, factories, etc. There were five other variants, the KB-29 was the tanker version, the SB-29 the search & rescue version, carrying a lifeboat; the DB-29 was a drone controller; the TB-29 a trainer; and the RB-29 a reconaissance aircraft. Some B-29s were also used as launch aircraft for research aircraft like the Bell X-1 and X-2. A total of 3,970 were built. It lead on to the development of the more powerful B-50 strategic bomber. The one shown above was named for the WWII war correspondent Ernie Pyle who died on assignment with the U.S. Marine Corp.
The B-29A carried a crew of 10, two pilots, navigator, two top gunners front and rear, a tail gunner, two belly gunners front and rear, bomb aimer and radioman. It was powered by four 1600kW Wright R-3350-23 turbofan engines. Its maximum speed was 357 mph (575km/h), with a ceiling of 31,856 ft (9710 m) with a fully pressurized fusilage. Range was 3250 mi (5230 km). Armament consisted of a 20mm cannon in the tail, and twelve .50 cal. machine guns, four each in the top turrets and two each in the belly turrets, which were remotely controlled. It carried up to 20,000 lb (9072 kg) of bombs.
Canadian Aces Home Page
The Smithsonian Institution
The Military Aircraft Database by Emmanuel Gustin.