Dustoff: The Memoir of an Army Aviator

By Michael J. Novosel | Go to book overview

4
The B-29 Superfortress

The Army Air Forces pilot accepted into the B-29 program had to be a top-notch military aviator. To qualify for training as a B-29 aircraft commander, he had to have a minimum of five hundred hours in a four-engine bomber, either the B-17 or the B-24, and at least fifteen hundred hours of flying time. I easily met those qualifications; I had more than two thousand hours, including eight hundred as a B-24 test pilot. I felt honored to be selected. The B-29 was the top of the line -- technologically the most advanced aircraft of World War II.

Compared to the B-24, which had a 110-foot wingspan, four 1,200horsepower engines, and weighed more than 30 tons, the B-29 was a monster. It had a wingspan of 141 feet, 3 inches, and four 2,200-horsepower engines driving four-bladed propellers each 16 feet, 7 inches in diameter. It weighed more than 71 tons.

There were other refinements unique to the B-29. The crew compartments were pressurized, eliminating the need for constant use of oxygen at altitude. The defensive armament was contained in turrets remotely controlled by a sophisticated electronic system that allowed for transfer between selected gunnery stations. All stations had computing sights that were easy to operate and (properly used) produced excellent results. The B-29, with a maximum bomb load of ten tons, was capable of extremely long-range operations, making it ideally suited for the air offensive against Japan.

I was assigned to Maxwell Army Air Field at Montgomery, Alabama, for transition training. There I met my copilot and flight engineer. Unlike B-24 transition, where instruction was on an individ

-20-

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Dustoff: The Memoir of an Army Aviator
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - A World of Turmoil 1
  • 2 - 1942 Kelly Field, Texas: Early 6
  • 3 - Laredo, Texas 11
  • 4 - The B-29 Superfortress 20
  • 5 - Tinian, Clark Field, Okinawa: 1945-47 32
  • 6 - The Best of Times, the Worst of Times 43
  • 7 - You'Re in the Army Now 62
  • 8 - January 1966: the Flight Over 92
  • 9 - Vietnam: 1966. 104
  • 10 - Military Operations Increase 137
  • 11 - Beating the System and Getting Short 171
  • 12 - My Plans Go Awry 183
  • 13 - Vietnam: the Second Time Around 196
  • 14 October 1969: An - Impossible Mission 228
  • 15 - A Father and Son Combat Team 269
  • 16 - The Medal of Honor 307
  • 17 - Korea, Fort Rucker, and Switches Off 317
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