Friday, June 27, 2014

Iconic Planes: The Enola Gay

The Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, was the bomber which dropped the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was the successor of the Boeing B-17 'Flying Fortress' (For more information on the B-17, see the respective post). The B-29 was a 4-propeller heavy bomber which was released near the end of World War II. Most of them were flown by the USA. The plane was very advanced for its time, with pressurized cabins, electronic fire controls and remote-controlled guns.

B-29 in flight.jpgUnlike many other WWII era bombers, the B-29 remained in service long after the war; it was finally retired in the 1960s. Some of them were even used as flying television stations! Undoubtedly the most famous B-29 Superfortress was the Enola Gay. The picture on the right shows a Superfortress in flight.
The Enola Gay was the bomber which dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The plane was named after the mother of the pilot, Paul Tibbets, who picked the plane right of the assembly line. On 6th August, 1945, The Enola Gay dropped the bomb, code-named 'Little Man', on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. It then served as a reconnaissance aircraft for the second bombing.

After returning to the USA, it operated in several other nuclear drop tests, after which it was retired and sent to the Smithsonian Institution. In 1961, the whole plane was transferred to the Smithsonian storage facility in Maryland, and in the 1980s, a part of it was exhibited at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. In 2003, it was shifted to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Centre, and has remained there since (Below).



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