This exhibition was on display in Gallery from June 28, to May 17, Enola Gay Assembly at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, April 10, Enola Gay at the Steven F. The airplane, which received the most extensive restoration in the museum's history, is on display at the Steven F.
Boeing's B Superfortress was the most sophisticated propeller-driven bomber of World War II and the first bomber to house its crew in pressurized compartments. Although designed to fight in the European theater, the B found its niche on the other side of the globe.
In the Pacific, Bs delivered a variety of aerial weapons: Three days later, Bockscar on display at the U. Enola Gay flew as the advance weather reconnaissance aircraft that day. A third B, The Great Artiste, flew as an observation aircraft on both missions. Collection Item Long Description: Boeing's B Superfortress was the most sophisticated, propeller-driven, bomber to fly during World War II, and the first bomber to house its crew in pressurized compartments.
Boeing installed very advanced armament, propulsion, and avionics systems into the Superfortress. During the war in the Pacific Theater, the B delivered the first nuclear weapons used in combat. On August 6, , Colonel Paul W. Three days later, Major Charles W. Sweeney piloted the B Bockscar and dropped a highly enriched plutonium, implosion-type atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. On August 14, , the Japanese accepted Allied terms for unconditional surrender.
In the late s, U. Army Air Corps leaders recognized the need for very long-range bombers that exceeded the performance of the B Flying Fortress. Several years of preliminary studies paralleled a continuous fight against those who saw limited utility in developing such an expensive and unproven aircraft but the Air Corps issued a requirement for the new bomber in February It described an airplane that could carry a maximum bomb load of kg 2, lb at a speed of kph mph a distance of at least 8, km 5, miles.
Boeing, Consolidated, Douglas, and Lockheed responded with design proposals. The Army was impressed with the Boeing design and issued a contract for two flyable prototypes in September In April , the Army issued another contract for aircraft plus spare parts equivalent to another 25 bombers, eight months before Pearl Harbor and nearly a year-and-a-half before the first Superfortress would fly.
Among the design's innovations was a long, narrow, high-aspect ratio wing equipped with large Fowler-type flaps.
This wing design allowed the B to cruise at high speeds at high altitudes but maintained comfortable handling characteristics during slower airspeeds necessary during takeoff and landing. More revolutionary was the size and sophistication of the pressurized sections of the fuselage: For the crew, flying at altitudes above 18, feet became much more comfortable as pressure and temperature could be regulated in the crew work areas. To protect the Superfortress, Boeing designed a remote-controlled, defensive weapons system.
Engineers placed five gun turrets on the fuselage: One of these turrets fired from behind the nose gear and the other hung further back near the tail.
Gunners operated these turrets by remote control--a true innovation. They aimed the guns using computerized sights, and each gunner could take control of two or more turrets to concentrate firepower on a single target. Boeing also equipped the B with advanced radar equipment and avionics. These systems were accurate enough to enable relatively accurate bombing through cloud layers that completely obscured the target.
Bs also routinely carried as many as twenty different types of radios and navigation devices. By the end of the year the second aircraft was ready for flight. Fourteen service-test YBs followed as production began to accelerate.
Building this advanced bomber required massive logistics. Both Curtiss-Wright and the Dodge automobile company vastly expanded their manufacturing capacity to build the bomber's powerful and complex Curtiss-Wright R turbo supercharged engines.
The program required thousands of sub-contractors but with extraordinary effort, it all came together, despite major teething problems. By April , the first operational Bs of the newly formed 20th Air Force began to touch down on dusty airfields in India. By May, Bs were operational.
In June, , less than two years after the initial flight of the XB, the U. This mission longest of the war to date called for Bs but only 80 reached the target area. The AAF lost no aircraft to enemy action but bombing results were mediocre. The first bombing mission against the Japanese main islands since Lt. This was also the first mission launched from airbases in China.
However, they employed high-altitude, precision, bombing tactics that yielded poor results. The high altitude winds were so strong that bombing computers could not compensate and the weather was so poor that rarely was visual target acquisition possible at high altitudes. LeMay ordered the group to abandon these tactics and strike instead at night, from low altitude, using incendiary bombs.
These firebombing raids, carried out by hundreds of Bs, devastated much of Japan's industrial and economic infrastructure. Yet Japan fought on. Martin modified these Superfortresses by removing all gun turrets except for the tail position, removing armor plate, installing Curtiss electric propellers, and modifying the bomb bay to accommodate either the "Fat Man" or "Little Boy" versions of the atomic bomb. As the Group Commander, Tibbets had no specific aircraft assigned to him as did the mission pilots.
He was entitled to fly any aircraft at any time. He named the B that he flew on 6 August Enola Gay after his mother. In the early morning hours, just prior to the August 6th mission, Tibbets had a young Army Air Forces maintenance man, Private Nelson Miller, paint the name just under the pilot's window. Enola Gay is a model BMO, serial number After the war, Army Air Forces crews flew the airplane during the Operation Crossroads atomic test program in the Pacific, although it dropped no nuclear devices during these tests, and then delivered it to Davis-Monthan Army Airfield, Arizona, for storage.
The bomber remained at Andrews in outdoor storage until August By then, concerned about the bomber deteriorating outdoors, the Smithsonian sent collections staff to disassemble the Superfortress and move it indoors to the Paul E. Garber Facility in Suitland, Maryland.
The staff at Garber began working to preserve and restore Enola Gay in December This was the largest restoration project ever undertaken at the National Air and Space Museum and the specialists anticipated the work would require from seven to nine years to complete. The project actually lasted nearly two decades and, when completed, had taken approximately , work-hours to complete.