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July 18, 2016

USAF’s restored B-29 Superfortress bomber conducts first flight

The US Air Force's (USAF) B-29 Superfortress bomber aircraft has made its first flight since 1956 on 17 July, following a 16-year restoration programme.

By Srivari Aishwarya

The US Air Force's (USAF) B-29 Superfortress bomber aircraft has made its first flight since 1956 on 17 July, following a 16-year restoration programme.

Work under the refurbishment programme included the installation of modern avionics technologies while trying to maintain the aircraft's originality.

Known as Doc, the aircraft that served as a ballistic target at a navy weapons range has been stationed at the McConnell Air Force Base.

Pilots from the USAF's 22nd Air Refueling Wing flew the Boeing-built long-range heavy bomber.

The Doc restoration project was managed by Doc’s Friends, a non-profit that helped restore the B-29.

Doc Friends project manager Jim Murphy said: “The Air Force guys came over and helped us lace in the fuel cells.

"They’ve helped polish the airplane and they have helped and been assistance to us every step of the way.”

To date, Boeing built a total of 2,766 B-29s at plants in Wichita, Kansas and in Renton, Washington, US.

The B-29s were primarily used in the Pacific theatre during World War II. In 1945, the B-29 named Enola Gay dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, and a second Bockscar bomber dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

"In 1945, the B-29 named Enola Gay dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan."

After the war, B-29s were adapted for several activities such as in-flight refuelling, antisubmarine patrol, and weather reconnaissance and rescue duty.

Powered by four wright double cyclone engines, the aircraft can accommodate ten crew members.

With a range of 5,830mi, the 99ft-long bomber can travel at a top speed of 365mph.


Image: A B-29 Superfortress flies over McConnell Air Force Base. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo / Senior Airman Tara Fadenrecht.

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