BIRDS FROM HELL - HISTORY OF THE B-29. by Wilbur H. Morrison. It was powered by four Wright R-3350-23 Duplex Cyclone eighteen-cylinder, air-cooled radial engines, each with two turbosuperchargers, capable of delivering 2200 horsepower at takeoff. It could reach an altitude of 20,000 feet in 38 minutes, a top speed of 375 mph at 30,000 feet, with a maximum range of 3,250 miles when carrying 5,000 pounds of bombs. Pressurized cabins, remote control armaments, 15,000 feet of wiring, the largest propellers ever installed on a production plane, and a price tag that eventually reached $1 million per plane.
The B-29 Superfortress was developed in 1940 as an eventual replacement for the B-17 and B-24. The first one built made its maiden flight on September 21, 1942. In 1943, the decision was made to base the long-range bomber solely in the Pacific Theater where it was particularly suited for the long over-water flights necessary to attack the Japanese homeland from bases in China, Saipan, Guam, and Tinian. As many as 1,000 Superfortresses bombed Tokyo at a time, destroying large parts of the city. Finally, on August 6, 1945, the B-29, Enola Gay, dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, the B-29, Bockscar, dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Shortly thereafter, Japan surrendered.
Birds From Hell presents the facts about Japan's defeat and the role that the B-29 Superfortresses played in it. It is a fascinating history of the legendary bomber told by a man who was a part of that history from the day the first Superfortress rolled off the assembly line. Wilbur Morrison, one of the nation's foremost aviation historians, reveals the truth about the air war in the Pacific during WW II and provides insight into the personalities and motives of three influential men: Generals LeMay, Montgomery, and Hansel. Includes rare U.S. Air Corps photos.
About the Author, Wilbur H. Morrison
Wilbur H. Morrison was a radio announcer and news commentator before joining the Army Air Corps and becoming a B-29 bombardier-navigator during WWII. Morrison flew five hundred combat hours during 38 missions during the war, receiving 21 awards and decorations and rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1954, he went to work for Douglas Aircraft Company where he became manager of public relations and an internationally recognized authority on aviation. He has written more than ten books including Pilots Man Your Planes: The History of Naval Aviation (Hellgate Press, 1999) and The Elephant and the Tiger: A Complete History of the Vietnam War
Click cover to enlarge