B-29's pressurized cabin and remote-controlled machine-gun turrets.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by DogFather, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. DogFather

    DogFather New Member

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    Didn't the pressurized cabin, make combat more dangerous? I would think a round
    in the cabin, could cause a sudden de-pressurization:?:

    The plane also had an electronic fire-control system. How well did this work, compared to other US planes, like the B-17 and B-24? Are than any stats, on fighters shot down per mission, or anything like that?
     
  2. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    The B-29 was a giant airplane, nearly twice as heavy as the heaviest previously serving bomber. Mid-set wings with a high aspect ratio gave it exceptional range. It had three separate pressurized crew compartments: one in the nose, a second aft of the wing for the gunners, and an isolated compartment for the tail gunner. Rather than the traditional bulky manned gun turrets, Boeing used small, remote-control units 'networked' together with an analog computer that compensated for factors such as air temperature and bullet drop. This system was very difficult to develop, but it proved effective. There are several accounts of 'healthy' B-29s peeling out of formation to drive off successfully fighters preying on damaged brethren.
     
  3. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    According to the B29 crew members over at the B29 web site, unless a huge hole was blown out, depressurization was controllable. The crew also had onboard, wooden plugs that they could pound into any holes.

    Also consider, being in a pressurized aircraft eliminated (or minimized) some of the dangers of not being in one.
     
  4. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Catastrophic "sudden de-pressurization" is a movie invention. Most planes have enough pump capacity to handle minor leaks.
     
  5. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    The Remote Control Turret System (RCT) or Central Station Fire Control System which was developed by General Electric, was a very advanced weapon system for its day. Instead of the gunner being inside the turret, between the guns or at an open waist window in the 30 below zero wind, he was located inside the pressurized crew compartment. If the gunner was in a more comfortable heated environment, could wear fewer layers of clothes, wasn't restricted inside the turret it was reasoned that he would be less encumbered and less fatigued than his brother in the manned turret.
    From two former B-29 gunners:

    I have heard much about our remote control turrets, and the supposition seems to be that they were next to worthless. Personally I can't say enough good things about them. They did the job when need. I used to do quite a bit of squirrel hunting as a youth.. When I came home empty handed I didn't blame the shotgun. Personally. while flying 31 missions I never had any gun to fail, and if you knew the wing span of the fighter, and set your sight right, he was a dead pigeon. We had a fine gunnery system.
    Bill Royster One of the poor abused gunners.

    When Lemay ordered all guns except in the tail removed during low level night time missions, our crew disobeyed the order and put 100 rounds in the lower aft turret, just in case. On two separate night missions the left gunner shot down a night fighter by sighting on the muzzle blast. We could not claim the kills in fear of Court Marshal. Another point for the accuracy of the CFC system in my book. I'm able to talk about it today. (11 lives spared at the time) This is just the highlights of the incident, Blackie
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Crew ergonomics is an often overlooked factor in weapon system effectiveness.

    I just finished watching a Military Channel episode on the M18 Hellcat tank destroyer. It had an aircooled engine with cooling air being sucked through the crew compartment. A good idea during the summer at it kept the crew cool. A horrible idea during the Battle of the Bulge. Zero degree air blowing over the vehicle crew as long as the engine was running. Unlike infantry, armored vehicle crew cannot move about to keep warm. I'm surprised they actually managed to kill a few German tanks, frozen fingers and all.
     
  7. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    #7 syscom3, Apr 27, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2011
    deleted
     
  8. Trebor

    Trebor Well-Known Member

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  9. mickey

    mickey New Member

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    My uncle was a tail gunner in a B-29, he was in the 482 squadron of the 505 bomb group flying out of north field Tinian. He was shot down over Tokyo on May25/26 1945. This was only his second mission and his crew was flying lead! His plane was named "Peachy" Our family doesn't know much about his time in the Mariannas. Anything you would like to share about being a gunner on a Superfortress would be appreciated.
    Thanks
     
  10. superkeith1872

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    I agree on the lack of explosive decompression, small holes weren't an issue and could be easily plugged in flight. I think the environmental concerns alone, make this a good idea. These crews could fly in short sleeve shirts rather than the bulky heated suits used in the European bombing operations and this also reduced oxygen delivery issues with the masks freezing up and killing you if nobody noticed. The electric mechanical "computers" used in the gun systems were an absolute marvel for their time and were extremely expensive and difficult to design, build and get the bugs out. The cost of development and per turret costs were crazy but a good investment in the end.
     
  11. Snautzer01

    Snautzer01 Well-Known Member

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    #11 Snautzer01, Jun 23, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
    more then one b29 apparently was called that 482nd Bombardment Squadron, 505th also had a Peachy that one survived till this day

    His name will be a good help.

    pic from B-29 Superfortress 44-62022 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    b29 peachy.jpg
     
  12. Snautzer01

    Snautzer01 Well-Known Member

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    This was his target

    (I have found a rapport of this incendiary night raid anyone is interested)


    .

    Clipboard01.jpg

    Clipboard06.jpg

    Clipboard07.jpg
     
  13. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Yes ... please post it!
     
  14. Snautzer01

    Snautzer01 Well-Known Member

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  15. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Thats Great! So much detail that went into the mission.

    If you have others, please post.
     
  16. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    While the B-29 was no match for MiG-15s in Korea, it is interesting to see how many they actually brought down with the remote turret system for engaging a 600mph airplane. I have a book upstairs that also documents the use of the remote turret system used from a scrapped B-29 for a ground AA emplacement (don't recall the near-Japan operational location). The claim was that it was usable, but I don't think that it was credited with any WWII kills. Setting it up must have been just a exercise of geometry and ensuring the analog computing was deemed robust.
     
  17. model299

    model299 Member

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    The computer gunnery system was so new and complex, it caused some problems during production of the first generation of aircraft. I've got several books that talk about GE factory reps having to travel to modification centers, and rewiring entire systems because the factory war-workers, many of them working on "Hi_tech" stuff for the firts time were simply in over their head.

    (EDIT) It's not that the war workers were incompetent, or didn't care. They simply had never seen anythning on this level before. Wanted to make that clear.
     
  18. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Dear Uncle Bill who was a B-29 Radio Operator during Korea once told me that the remote turrets could not get a good firing solution on the MiG-15, especially if they were moving at speed and if a deflection shot was attempted. I believe most if not all of the B-29 kills/ claims during Korea were from tail gunners.

    I'd like to know specifics about this story concerning the "factory workers" as "electrical installers," "aircraft electricians," etc., wired aircraft per engineering drawings or documents called "production illustrations," depending what manufacturer your talking about. Any mis-wiring within the unit or aircraft resulted either because of bad engineering or factory workers mis-reading drawings (which did occur as a result of training and in that case falls back to company management) and although the latter most likely did occur, I don't believe it was the norm, especially later in the war.
     
  19. Snautzer01

    Snautzer01 Well-Known Member

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    21st Bomber Command Tactical Mission Reports
    JapanAirRaids on Scribd | Scribd
     
  20. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Snautzer01 ........ EXCELLENT!

    Flyboy, I believe what model299 was trying to say is that there were manpower issues when the B29's first stated production. And that was expected given the leap in technology this bomber represented. But of course, it is correct to say that as the workforce matured and gathered experience. Any production issues related to workforce quality became non existent. In fact, towards the end of the war, every phase of the production was almost on autopilot with minimal intervention needed by anyone high up in the process. That alone is testimate on quickly the US workforce could adapt to the war work. Going from the proverbial barefoot and pregnant farmer's wife in Georgia to a skilled assembler at the Marietta plant.
     
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