About the B-29 Superfortress
One of the most technologically advanced airplanes of World War II, the B-29 had many new features, including guns that could be fired by remote control.
Boeing built a total of 2,766 B-29s at plants in Wichita and in Renton, Wash. The Bell Aircraft Co. built 668 of the giant bombers in Georgia, and the Glenn L. Martin Co. built 536 in Nebraska.
B-29s were primarily used in the Pacific theater during World War II. As many as 1,000 Superfortresses at a time bombed Tokyo, destroying large parts of the city. Finally, on Aug. 6, 1945, the B-29 Enola Gay dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later a second B-29, Bockscar, dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Shortly thereafter, Japan surrendered.
Source: Boeing (http://www.boeing.com/history/products/b-29-superfortress.page)
Fifi, the only B-29 Superfortress still flying, arrived at the Great Bend Municipal Airport Thursday afternoon. The crew from the Commemorative Air Force will be selling rides in this World War II warbird during the Great Bend AirFest, going on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The AirFest opens at 9 a.m.
Pilot Steve Zimerman flew Fifi twice around Great Bend before making his final approach to the airport at approximately 12:30 p.m. The plane has a distinctive sound and Zimmerman imagined it caused some heads in town to turn.
“People might not know it’s a B-29, but they know it’s different,” he said.
The six-person crew disembarked and quickly began polishing the engine covers. Fifi’s radial engines are expected to leak oil, he said. “We wipe up as soon as we can.”
It took a little over 90 minutes and 600-700 gallons of fuel to fly to Great Bend from Branson, Mo., the location of Fifi’s last air festival.
The B-29 named Fifi was completed in 1945, late in World War II. “It didn’t see any action in the war, but it was used for training,” Zimmerman said.
The Great Bend Municipal Airport was a B-29 training base. That makes it an idea site for a fly-in featuring warbirds. It also makes it easy to land the B-29, thanks to extra long runways. “There’s a lot of concrete here – a lot of room to turn around,” Zimmerman said.
The AirFest will have airplanes of all ages, but Fifi is always a major attraction. “World War II veterans are especially thrilled to see it,” Zimmerman said.
Great Bend Airport Manager Martin Miller said other warbirds that arrived early were an A-26, and a Navy C1-A Trader. Kevin Lockwood from Great Bend also brought in several non-flying vehicles from the era, starting with an LVT3 amphibious assault tractor.
On Saturday, AirFest attendees will start lining up at 6 p.m. for a Veterans Parade at 6:30, followed by a patriotic ceremony and a flyover at 7 p.m. There will also be a 1940s style dance in the hangar.