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An all-metal monoplane with a retractable landing gear system including a nosewheel. The crew consisted of 14 persons. Distinctive features of the Superfortress included a pressurized cockpit for the crew and a Central Fire Control system for the defensive armament. The B-29 (Model 345) was developed by the Boeing Aircraft design department in early 1940. The XB-29 prototype model performed its maiden flight on September 21, 1942. Full-scale production of the aircraft was started in June 1943. В-29s had Wright R-3350-23 eighteen-cylinder, radial air-cooled engines producing a maximum power of 2,200 hp, with four-bladed automatic propellers. The defensive armament of the Superfortress included four remotely controlled turrets: two below the fuselage and two above. Each turret housed two 12.7 mm Colt-Browning M2.5 machine guns with 500-1,000 rounds each. Some aircraft had an upper front turret equipped with four machine guns. All weapons were aimed at the target from three sighting stations located in blisters and from the bombardier's station. Three armament options were available for the rear mount, controlled by an independent air gunner: a 20 mm Hispano-Bendix AN-M2 cannon and two 12.7 mm Colt-Browning M2.5 machine guns, three 12.7 mm machine guns, or two 12.7 mm machine guns. A bomb load of up to 9,000 kg was housed in two bomb bays, where cluster racks were mounted. The B-29 was equipped with a large amount of radio equipment for various purposes. Its large bomb capacity, powerful and effective defensive armament, and state-of-the-art equipment would have turned the Superfortress into the best heavy bomber of World War II if not for engine breakdowns that continually plagued the aircraft. For one whole year, up to the middle of 1944, the bomber's performance was hampered by a high accident rate. It was only by the end of the summer of 1944 that efforts to improve the fire-prone engines were relatively successful, but the problem was never entirely eradicated. B-29s were used exclusively in the Pacific theater of the war. Superfortresses were used in combat for the first time on June 5, 1944 during the raid on Bangkok. On June 14, 1944, American bombers attacked the territory of Japan for the first time. Military and industrial facilities in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Omura and Yawata were regularly attacked. In August 1944, B-29s began to bomb oil refineries on the island of Sumatra. The B-29s were flown out of China until December 1944, when they were relocated to India. Their targets were docks in Singapore, ports in Indochina, and rail junctions in Burma. В-29s also mined rivers in China and the coastal waters of Vietnam and Malaya from the air. In October 1944, B-29s began carrying out massive attacks on Japan from the Mariana Islands. During the war, these aircraft dropped 54,917 tons of high-explosive bombs and 109,068 tons of incendiary bombs on Japan and delivered 12,000 naval mines. The В-29 became the world's first nuclear weapon carrier when it dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From 1950-53, B-29 bombers took part in the Korean War. From 1950-55, the aircraft was operated by the RAF Bomber Command under the designation "Washington B.1." A total of 3,947 В-29s were manufactured, including all variants. The plane was withdrawn from service as a bomber with the USA in late 1954.