The Boeing-designed B-29 No. 44-27297 was built by the Glenn L. Martin Co. at Omaha, Neb., at a cost of about $639,000. It was accepted by the USAAF on April 19, 1945, and was delivered to the 393rd Bomb Squadron at Wendover Field in the Utah salt flats. There, aircrews of the 509th Composite Group were engaged in intensive training under a cloak of secrecy. In June aircraft and crew flew to Tinian Island in the Marianas. From there, Bockscar, named for its pilot Frederick C. Bock, flew five bombing missions. On four of these, a 10,000-pound bomb loaded with high explosives was dropped. Nicknamed "pumpkin" bombs because of their shape and orange color, these were of the same size and shape as the actual "Fat Man" atomic bomb dropped at Nagasaki.
After Japan surrendered, Bockscar and the 393rd Bomb Squadron were reassigned to Roswell Field, N.M. In error, The Great Artiste was named in some official reports as the Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb at Nagasaki. This mistake was discovered when preparations were made to preserve the aircraft for later museum display. When the discrepancy was found, it was Bockscar that was retired in September 1946 to the desert storage facility at Davis-Monthan field near Tucson, Ariz. There it remained until September 1961 when it made one more flight to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to become part of the growing collection of display aircraft at the museum. Today, about a million visitors each year view Bockscar, the aircraft that ended the world's most costly war.
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