How We Got the First Nuclear Bomber

Seventy-eight years ago today, on August 6, 1945, the US military dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima from the B-29 Superfortress named Enola Gay. Nagasaki was bombed three days later by another atomic weapon dropped from a Superfortress named Bockscar.

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The powerful B-29 bomber had been in the works since 1933, when American war planners contemplated a possible conflict with the Japanese Empire. No bomber at the time could fly far enough to attack Japan. Existing bombers had a range of 650 miles with a payload of 2,000 pounds. Boeing and Martin both went to work to design a plane with a much longer range. Although several were designed, bigger planes had a problem in that they couldn’t even fly 200 miles per hour, not nearly fast enough to carry out a bombing mission. Douglas and Sikorsky also got involved, but the funding for a superbomber ran out in 1938. However, Boeing believed in the research they had already done, and continued development at the company’s own expense.

When war broke out in Europe, funding was restored and four aircraft companies: Consolidated Aircraft Company, Lockheed, Douglas, and Boeing were recruited to commence developing a plane that could deliver 2,000 pounds of bombs 5,333 miles away at 400 miles per hour. Boeing had a head start, since they never stopped their program. The military was so impressed with Boeing’s B-29 design that they ordered it in 1940, even before the prototype was ready, and before the US was attacked by Japan. Read about the bomber program that began in 1933 and the many designs that were tried before the B-29 Superfortress at Military History Now. -via Strange Company

Source: neatorama

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