Warbirds of New Smyrna Page 2
The B-25 is without question the most popular medium sized bomber of WWII; made famous in the "Doolittle Raiders." The Doolittle Raiders were under the command of Lt. Col Jimmy Doolittle. The plan was to remove all the excess weight from the Army Air Corp B-25's and launch them off the 500 foot deck of the Naval aircraft carrier Hornet. Sixteen crews launched an attack against the Japanese homeland on April 18, 1942. This was America's answer to the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. The attacks did very little damage to the Japanese factories and cities but it showed that they were vulnerable. After the attack the Japanese concentrated their forces closer to home which allowed the Americans to focus their efforts on the war in Europe.
Work continues on the engines just outside the Aero Services hanger in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The B-25 combined speed, range, agility, and most importantly survivability with up to fourteen .50 caliber machine guns, a 75mm cannon, and 3,200 lbs. of bombs.
Throw in a few flyboys in sheepskin jackets and a few grease monkeys and this scene could almost have been taken during a typical day during WWII. Can't you just imagine a small airfield with criss-crossing concrete runways where the bombers and fighters are preparing to embark on another mission?
This is a view of the mighty Wright R-2600. This engine was also used on the A-20 Havoc, TBF Avenger, Curtiss Helldiver, and made famous by powering the Boeing 314 "Clipper." Also the pitot tube and opened sextant bubble can be seen in this picture. (notice the script under the window where the co-pilots name would typically be. Also notice the script below the window on the pilots side in the second picture on this page.)
This B-25 is finished in an all metal scheme which you can definitely see in this photo of the big Hamilton Standard prop with the Florida sun reflecting off the wing.
This is a side view of the nose of the only Boeing B-29 "Superfortress" currently airworthy in the world. It is the Commemorative Air Force's B-29 "FiFi". FiFi was restored by volunteers at the Boeing Factory in Seattle, Washington in 1991. One of the more interesting features of the aircraft is the retractable tail skid due to the 99 foot length of the aircraft in case it over-rotated on takeoff. (Notice the list of movies this aircraft has been featured in just to the left of the name and the Daytona International Speedway just under and in front of the nose)
During WWII it was decided that the B-29 would be restricted to the Pacific theater. The B-17's and B-24's had a range great enough to serve in the European theater, but not the long ranges required for the Pacific operations. The Superfortress was designed to fly farther, faster, higher and with more ordinance than the Liberator or Flying Fortress. It had a range of 3,700 miles, could fly at 350mph, in excess of 33,000 feet, and had a payload of 20,000lbs of ordinance. The B-29 was designed in 1940 and first flew in 1942. From Chinese air bases the B-29's could attack the Japanese homeland. This placed pressure on Japan which made them focus their forces around the islands instead of advancing on the U.S. mainland. This allowed the U.S. to fight effectively on two fronts.
This view shows the cylinder shape of the fuselage of the B-29. The B-29's fuselage was built in this shape because it was essentially a large pressure vessel. In fact it was the first fully pressurized aircraft. It also was the first aircraft to use remote controlled computerized guns. There were nearly 4,000 B-29's built. Foreign derivatives include the Russian Tupolev Tu-4, the Chinese Kong Jing AWACs powered by four turboprop engines. American aircraft that were derived from the original design include the XB-39 powered by four Allison V-3420 engines, the B-50 powered by four Pratt & Whitney R-4360's.
The B-29s cockpit was surprisingly small and dark for such a huge aircraft. Having said that the aircraft had great visibility. Directly behind the cockpit was a lower pressure door to the twin bomb bays and above was a crawl space to get to the rear of the aircraft. The crew would put an automotive creeper in this area and pull themselves along the tunnel by a wire mounted near the ceiling. In the aft compartment were two remote gun operators and a tail gunner along with a single Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). The gunners also monitored the engines during the starting process in case of a fire. On August 6, 1945 the B-29 "Enola Gay" dropped the atomic bomb "Little Boy" on Hiroshima, Japan. On August 9, 1945 the B-29 "Bockscar" dropped the second atomic bomb, "Fat Man" was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. Each bomb had a destructive capacity of about the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT. (Notice the North American Navion outside the cockpit and across the ramp is Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach)
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© Brian Whittingham 2004