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COMBAT AND PRODUCTION

Posted 8/14/2008 Printable Fact Sheet

The B-29 was designed to fly high, far, and fast. These very specifications ruled out any immediate possibility of adequate fighter escort on most missions. As a result, the B-29 had to built as a self-sufficient airplane capable of defending itself against all comers. Out of this necessity grew the central-fire-control system, the "magic little black box" that takes much of the guesswork out of gunnery and has chalked up an unusually high rate of fighter kills for the B-29. A measure of the effectiveness of this fire-control system in keeping Japanese fighters at a distance is that in the first 6 months of combat operations only 15 B-29's were lost by enemy fighter action in the air. In contrast, 102 Japanese planes were destroyed, 87 probably destroyed, and 156 seriously damaged in air combat.

As material and other problems were solved, production on the B-29 was stepped up. For security reasons, actual production figures cannot be given. However, it can be said that as 1944 drew to a close each plant producing Superfortresses, and there are a number of them, was completing on the average of more than one B-29 every 24 hours. As production increased, cost naturally decreased. The first B-29 cost $3,392,396.60. Those coming off the production lines today cost approximately $600,000. A total of 157,000 man-hours were required to produce the first B-29's to roll off the line; those produced today require only 57,000 man-hours. Despite the rush orders, the B-29 has been and is being brought up as an effective air weapon quickly and surely. The work today is just as intensive as it was and improvements are still being made.

This report was prepared by the Army Air Forces and is dated Feb. 27, 1945.

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