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|The Aircraft :|
|Superfortress||The largest and most powerful bomber of WW II, the Boeing B-29 Super Fortress, played a major role in bringing about the defeat of Japan. In addition to accelerating Japans surrender following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs, thousands of B-29 crews flew tens of thousands of bombing missions against Japan from bases in China, India, and later in the War from recaptured islands in the Pacific. B-29s entered service in 1943 following a lengthy, problem-filled, development process of three years in response to the governments request for a long range strategic bomber. Only Boeing and Douglas (the B-32 Dominator) responded to the governments requests, and the B-32 had even greater development problems than the B-29. Powered by four giant Wright R-3350-23 radial engines generating a total horsepower of 8,924, the Super Fortresses typically carried crews of ten. They were capable of a top speed of 357-MPH, and at slower cruising speeds had a range of more than 3,200 miles. The B-29 was a large aircraft for its time with a wingspan in excess of 140 feet and a length of just under 100 feet. The Super Forts also had pressurized forward and aft hulls, which made the long distance missions a bit more comfortable for the flight crews. B-29s typically carried defensive armament which included ten machine guns and a single tail-mounted canon. Because of the pressurized hull, the guns were operated by remote control. The first operational B-29 wing was the 58th which flew out of the China-Burma-India theater. On March 9, 1945 General Curtis LeMay ordered an unusual low altitude attack on Tokyo by hundreds of B-29s carrying incendiary bombs. Five such low level missions were scheduled over a ten-day period, and the combined destruction of these missions exceeded that of either of the atomic bomb missions. B-29s were also effectively used to mine Japanese ports and shipping lanes.|
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