B-29s Blast Japan

 

First deployed in 1944, the B-29 was a new generation bomber that carried more bombs, and flew higher, faster and farther than any other WWII bomber. It also introduced remote controlled turrets for defense and pressurized crew compartments that allowed them to forgo heavy cold weather clothing.

B-29 SPECIFICATIONS

  • Wingspan: 141 ft 3 in
  • Length: 99 ft
  • Height: 29 ft 7 in
  • Weight: 141,100 lbs (loaded)
  • Max. Speed: 358 mph
  • Service Ceiling: 31,850 ft
  • Range: 4,100 miles
  • Engines: 4 Wright R-3350-23 radial, 2,200 horsepower each
  • Armament: 12 .50-caliber machine guns, 1 20 mm cannon, 20,000-pound bomb load
  • Crew:11

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Like the United States, Japan improved it’s fighters throughout the war. Japanese fighters became faster, were heavier armed, had self-sealing fuel tanks and some armor protection for the pilot. The Japanese Kawasaki Ki-61 had a number of B-29 kills.

 

 

Kawasaki Ki-61 Specifications

  • Length: 29 ft 4 in
  • Wingspan: 39 ft 4 in
  • Height: 12 ft 2 in
  • Gross weight: 7,650 lb
  • Powerplant: 1 × Kawasaki Ha40 inverted liquid-cooled V-12 piston engine, 864 kW (1,159 hp)
  • Maximum speed: 360 mph at 16,000 ft
  • Range: 360 mi
  • Service ceiling: 38,100 ft
  • Guns:  2× 20 mm Ho-5 cannon; 2× 12.7 mm Ho-103 machine guns
  • Bombs: 2× 550 lb
  • Crew: 1

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The Kawasaki Ki-100 only entered service in the last months of the war but was considered an excellent fighter by the U.S. The Mitsubishi J2M, the Nakajima Ki-44 and the Nakajima Ki-84  could out perform the American P-51D Mustang and P-47D Thunderbolt at certain altitudes.

The Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero and Nakajima KI-43 were still in service toward the end of the war, but were little improved over the 1942 versions. Although some Zeros were specifically modified to attack B29s, none of these fighters had the high altitude performance necessary to effectively battle the B-29.

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In March 1945, when the US began escorting B-29 flights over Japan with P-51 Mustang fighters from Iwo Jima, Japanese defenses against the B-29 became relatively ineffective.

 

 P-51 Mustang

P-51 Mustang Specifications

ENGINE: Rolls Royce Packard built V-1650-7 Merlin 12 cylinder liquid cooled power plant-1490 HP
MAX SPEED: 505 mph
WINGSPAN:37′ 0″
LENGTH:32′ 2″
HEIGHT:13′ 8″
MAX GROSS WEIGHT:12,300 lbs.
MAX CEILING:41,900
RANGE: 2,080 miles with two 110 gal. drop tanks
ARMAMENT: 6 X .50 caliber Browning machine guns

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In 1945, Imperial Japan had inadequate numbers of aircraft and anti-aircraft guns to adequately defend their home islands. Additionally, most Japanese aircraft and ground artillery had difficulty reaching the B29s high altitude. Fuel shortages, loss of experienced pilots and inadequate pilot training, and a lack of effective coordination between defense units compounded their problems. Japanese firefighters lacked training and equipment, and few air raid shelters were constructed for civilians. In 1945, B29s wreaked havoc on Japanese cities with the loss of comparatively few American aircraft. (Read interesting commentary on B-29 losses)

U.S. Casualties and losses
614 aircraft lost
2,691 killed

Japanese Casualties and losses

4,200 aircraft lost

~333,000 killed and 473,000 wounded.

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