Home Base: Addison, TX
Operation: Western, Central and Eastern USA
Wing Span: 141' 3"
Length: 99' 0"
Height: 29' 7"
Max Speed: 357 mph
Gross Weight: 133,500 lbs
Power Plant: 4 x Curtiss-Wright R-3350
Horsepower: 4 x 2,200
Fuel Capacity: 9,500 gallons
Armament: up to 12 .50 caliber machine guns, up to 20,000 pounds bombs.
CAF's Boeing B-29 Superfortress "FIFI"
The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is the owner of this rare Boeing B-29 Superfortress "FIFI" which is the only flyable B-29 in the world and is operated and maintained by the B-29/B-24 Squadron and is available for airshows, flybys, warbird rides and film.
The B-29 Superfortress was built by Boeing and has been called the weapon that won the war in the Pacific. Designed to carry large bomb loads long distances, it made possible the strategic bombardment that brought Japan near to collapse. This mighty war machine was available when needed because Air Corps leaders of the 1930's pressed for the development of strategic bombers. Designed to eventually replace the B-17 and B-24, the Boeing B-29 was on the drawing boards in 1940.
By September 21, 1942, the maiden flight of the first "Superfortress" was completed. The U.S. was then fighting World War II and the planes were immediately earmarked for combat. Because of its 3,700 mile range, it was decided in 1943 that the B-29 would be used in the Pacific theater to launch attacks on Japan, rather than in Europe. The B-29 was first reported in action on June 5, 1944, in an attack on railway yards at Bangkok, Siam, and on June 15 the first raid was made in Japan from bases in China. Following that date, attacks on the Japanese mainland were steadily stepped up, mainly from bases in the Marianas and in Guam, with forces up to 450 and 500 Superfortresses.
In 1945, the B-29s launched their famous low-level incendiary missions over Japanese cities. In the first raid over Tokyo on March 10, 299 B-29s carried out the most destructive bombing raid in history when they leveled 17 square miles of the city with fire bombs. Probably the most well known flights from Tinian came on August 6, 1945 when "Enola Gay," under the command of Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, flew over Hiroshima to drop the first atom bomb. Three days later, another B-29, the "Bockscar," dropped its nuclear payload on Nagasaki. This not only signaled the end of the war, but also resulted in the greatest identification snafu of World War II. Captain Frederick C. Bock, the Bockscar pilot, switched planes and flew "The Great Artiste," an instrument plane for the raid. The Great Artiste was then credited in published accounts and communiques with the drop. It was not until a year later that the mistake was discovered and the Bockscar credited with this historic flight.
When the Confederate Air Force (now the Commemorative Air Force) began searching for a B-29 for our collection of WWII aircraft, the war had been over for 21 years. The Superforts that helped end it had long since yielded to new generations of jet-powered strategic bombers, and vanished. According to the Air Force, no B-29s remained in inventory ~ even at storage or disposal depots. But the CAF Colonels had faith and put the word out, and it paid off. In 1971, a pilot reported sighting a number of what might be B-29s on the California desert near China Lake. The CAF learned the aircraft were indeed Superforts that had been parked at a Navy weapons center for 17 years. They had been used for gunnery targets and abused by heat, sand and vandals. After much negotiation (the Air Force still owned the planes; the Navy had to agree to release one), much paperwork and a pain-staking process of elimination to find the best survivor, the CAF became the owner of B-29 SN44-62070. That was just the beginning of the task. A CAF maintenance team arrived at China Lake on 31 March, 1971. In only nine weeks, with the help of CAF volunteers, they restored all systems and replaced fuel, oil and hydraulic hoses. They restored the controls and installed instruments. They ran the engines, tested propellers and landing gear, and had new window bubbles made. (Many parts and spares also came from the other B-29s at China Lake). By 3 August, 1971, SN44-62070 was ready to fly again.
The crew took on enough fuel to fly non-stop 1,250 miles to CAF Headquarters, then in Harlingen, Texas, lifted off at 7:48 a.m. and in a six hour, 38 minute flight, brought home the last flying Superfortress without incident. The complete restoration to CAF standards of airworthiness was a long and expensive project involving more than three years of fund-raising and hard work. Late in 1974, the CAF's B-29 was christened "FIFI" and joined the other WWII fighters and bombers to preserve the memories and teach of lessons of mankind's greatest war.
Through the years, the CAF and the many volunteers kept "FIFI" in the air, and performing throughout the country. In 2006, following a series of engine failures, the B-29/B-24 Squadron made the difficult decision to ground the airplane until modified Curtiss-Wright engines could be fitted. Over the next three plus years, these new engines were built using parts from the later model engines that powered the Skyraider and Boxcar during the Vietnam War. In August 2010 "FIFI" returned to the air after the three million dollar project was completed. "FIFI" is once again ready to perform at airshows, and films throughout the Western Hemisphere. "FIFI" and Ol' 927 are now based in Addison, Texas at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum.
Commemorative Air Force - B-29/B-24 Squadron
American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum
4730 George Haddaway Way
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