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B-29 Walk-through Fuselage

DAYTON, Ohio -- B-29 walk-through fuselage in the Korean War Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- B-29 walk-through fuselage in the Korean War Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Crew of "Command Decision:" (standing, left to right) Tech. Sgt. Carl W. Ayers, flight engineer; Sgt. Stanley Smigel, radio operator; **Staff Sgt. Michael R. Martoochia, central fire control; Sgt. John J. Nally, left gunner; *PFC Henry E. Ruch, right gunner; **Sgt. Merle A. Goff, tail gunner; (kneeling, left to right) Capt. Donald M. Covic, aircraft commander; Capt. David A. Self Jr., pilot; Lt. Daniel M. Price, navigator; 1st Lt. William M. Hammond, bombardier; 1st Lt. Bernard G. Stein, radar observer. (*Denotes number of MiGs shot down) (U.S. Air Force photo)

Crew of "Command Decision:" (standing, left to right) Tech. Sgt. Carl W. Ayers, flight engineer; Sgt. Stanley Smigel, radio operator; **Staff Sgt. Michael R. Martoochia, central fire control; Sgt. John J. Nally, left gunner; *PFC Henry E. Ruch, right gunner; **Sgt. Merle A. Goff, tail gunner; (kneeling, left to right) Capt. Donald M. Covic, aircraft commander; Capt. David A. Self Jr., pilot; Lt. Daniel M. Price, navigator; 1st Lt. William M. Hammond, bombardier; 1st Lt. Bernard G. Stein, radar observer. (*Denotes number of MiGs shot down) (U.S. Air Force photo)

Boeing B-29 "Command Decision" nose art. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Boeing B-29 "Command Decision" nose art. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Boeing B-29 "Command Decision" during the Korean Conflict. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Boeing B-29 "Command Decision" during the Korean Conflict. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Capt. Donald M. Covic makes a “command decision” by flipping a coin, just like the artwork on his B-29. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Capt. Donald M. Covic makes a “command decision” by flipping a coin, just like the artwork on his B-29. (U.S. Air Force photo)

"Command Decision" had nose art on the left side showing its five MiG kills.  Each painted bomb represented a mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

"Command Decision" had nose art on the left side showing its five MiG kills. Each painted bomb represented a mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Cause for worry -- three MiG-15s curving in to attack. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Cause for worry -- three MiG-15s curving in to attack. (U.S. Air Force photo)

On Oct. 27, 1951, "Command Decision" flew on a strike against rail bridges at Sinanju, North Korea. On this mission, the crew shot down their fourth and fifth MiG-15 (they shot down the other three on Oct. 17). This is the strike photo taken on the Oct. 27 mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

On Oct. 27, 1951, "Command Decision" flew on a strike against rail bridges at Sinanju, North Korea. On this mission, the crew shot down their fourth and fifth MiG-15 (they shot down the other three on Oct. 17). This is the strike photo taken on the Oct. 27 mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

On Oct. 27, 1951, "Command Decision" flew on a strike against rail bridges at Sinanju, North Korea. On this mission, the crew shot down their fourth and fifth MiG-15 (they shot down the other three on Oct. 17). A MiG-15 cannon shell caused serious damage to Command Decision’s flap on the Oct. 27 mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

On Oct. 27, 1951, "Command Decision" flew on a strike against rail bridges at Sinanju, North Korea. On this mission, the crew shot down their fourth and fifth MiG-15 (they shot down the other three on Oct. 17). A MiG-15 cannon shell caused serious damage to Command Decision’s flap on the Oct. 27 mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

On Oct. 27, 1951, "Command Decision" flew on a strike against rail bridges at Sinanju, North Korea. On this mission, the crew shot down their fourth and fifth MiG-15 (they shot down the other three on Oct. 17). A MiG-15 cannon shell caused serious damage to Command Decision’s flap on the Oct. 27 mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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On Oct. 27, 1951, "Command Decision" flew on a strike against rail bridges at Sinanju, North Korea. On this mission, the crew shot down their fourth and fifth MiG-15 (they shot down the other three on Oct. 17). A MiG-15 cannon shell caused serious damage to Command Decision’s flap on the Oct. 27 mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The B-29’s complex, revolutionary defensive gunnery system featured five sighting stations which could selectively fire the four remote gun turrets and the manned tail turret. The sighting station on display was used on the B-29 Superfortress "Command Decision."
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The B-29’s complex, revolutionary defensive gunnery system featured five sighting stations which could selectively fire the four remote gun turrets and the manned tail turret. The sighting station on display was used on the B-29 Superfortress "Command Decision."

Compared to conventional turrets, the B-29’s compact, unmanned turrets caused less drag, and the separate, pressurized sighting stations were more comfortable for gunners (an important factor on long missions).
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Compared to conventional turrets, the B-29’s compact, unmanned turrets caused less drag, and the separate, pressurized sighting stations were more comfortable for gunners (an important factor on long missions).

The tail gunner used a sighting station that allowed him to fire other turrets too.  Moreover, other sighting stations could remotely fire the tail guns.
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The tail gunner used a sighting station that allowed him to fire other turrets too. Moreover, other sighting stations could remotely fire the tail guns.

Command Decision Sighting Station. (U.S. Air Force photo).
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Command Decision Sighting Station. (U.S. Air Force photo).

Note: Visitors are permitted to walk through this aircraft.

Command Decision was a 28th Bomb Squadron, 19th Bomb Group B-29 that became famous for shooting down five MiG-15s, unofficially making it a bomber "ace." It was named after a popular 1948 film about the difficult decisions and heavy casualties of bomber operations over Europe in World War II.

This walk-through B-29 fuselage is painted to represent the Command Decision.

Command Decision Sighting Station
The B-29's complex, revolutionary defensive gunnery system featured five sighting stations which could selectively fire the four remote gun turrets and the manned tail turret. The sighting station on display was used on the B-29 Superfortress Command Decision.

The B-29 gunnery system had many advantages over the manned turrets used on nearly all bombers before the B-29. For instance, computers and gyros automatically calculated factors like bullet drop, speed of the B-29, speed of the target, etc. Most importantly, one gunner could aim and fire multiple turrets against a single target.

Click here to return to the Korean War Gallery or here to return to the Strategic Bombing Overview.

 

Find Out More
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Related Fact Sheets
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15bis
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360-degree Virtual Tour
View the B-29 Fuselage on Display
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Lectures
Lt. Col. (Ret.) George A. Larson: "B-29s and the Korean War" (00:47:13)
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