The B-29 Superfortress was one of the largest and most advanced aircraft of its time -- a marvel of World War II weapons technology. It featured advanced landing gear, a pressurized cabin and a computer targeting system that allowed two crewmembers to control four gun turrets by remote control.
Today, only two surviving Superfortresses are capable of flying. The crew behind FlightChops, a YouTube page run by a private pilot who creates videos for his own self-analysis, rigged one of them with GoPro cameras to capture what it’s like to fly in one of the most expensive weapons of World War II.
The B-29, named “Fifi,” flew over Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 2016 with ForeFlight, a software design firm that creates mobile apps for flight operations, and the Commemorative Air Force, America’s largest flying museum -- one you have to see to believe.
The video shows everything the 11 crew members would have to do while in flight, from the flight officer station, which controls all four engines, to the gunner’s station, under which is a giant sight. From that sight, the gunner can see all four turrets underneath the aircraft. As the gunner moves the sight, the remote control moves the 12.7 mm Browning M2 guns.
Gunners can use the sight and the lights on the wingspan to track targets as they move around the airplane, gathering range information. Once that information is in the computer, the vacuum tube computer sets the lead and elevation, feeding the moving target info to the guns automatically.
From takeoff to landing, the Commemorative Air Force crew takes us through all the engine checks, checklists and in-flight operations -- everything it takes to get one of these massive flying fortresses in the air and back on the ground.
The FlightChops crew highlights everything interesting in the B-29’s operational history, including what the crew members in the back of the plane did and saw, how they moved from cabin to cabin, and, most interestingly, what the view from the turret gunners’ posts looked like.
As you watch the expansive view from a World War II Army Air Forces gunner’s bubble, imagine what it might be like to fend off enemy fighter planes as flak from the ground explodes around you. Being on a bomber crew was one of the most dangerous jobs in the war, and AAF bomber crews had higher casualty rates than even U.S. Marines fighting the Japanese. They relied on their turret gunners and fighter escorts to see them home safely.
It was B-29 Superfortresses dubbed “Enola Gay” and “Bockscar” that dropped nuclear weapons over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in August 1945, which led to the end of World War II.
Want to Learn More About Military Life?
Whether you're thinking of joining the military, looking for post-military careers or keeping up with military life and benefits, Military.com has you covered. Subscribe to Military.com to have military news, updates and resources delivered directly to your inbox.