Aviation of WWII
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Manuals B-17 B-29 Pilot`s Notes

Early in 1939, when studies were started to determine just how to produce a bomber bigger and better than the B-17, the XB-29 came into being. Its basic design was determined in 1940. Three airplanes were built as prototypes for the actual production of the B-29, the first of these taking to the air in the fall of 1942.

Many qualities of the B-17 have been built into the B-29. The B-17 tail was one step in the development. In the early experimental stages, a B-17 was flown with dual turbos, the B-29 fin and rudder, the B-29 stabilizer and elevator, and even with the B-29 ailerons.

The B-29 is the first of the "very heavv bombers." Actually, in physical size it is not much larger than a B-17 or a B-24, but its weight and power are twice theirs and its speed is considerably greater. Loaded down with gas and oil for a long ferrying trip, it holds almost as much fuel as a railroad tank car. Under normal loads, it weighs 1/7 as much as a railroad locomotive and has four times the power. It is designed to carry heavy loads for long distances at high speeds and high altitudes.



The B-29 is a teamwork airplane, and you are the captain of that team. Your success in combat, and the safety of your crew and airplane, depend on how well you organize your team and how well you lead it.

You are no longer just a pilot—you hold a command post and all the responsibilities that go with it. You are flying an 11-man weapon. It is your airplane and your crew, not only when you are fighting and flying, but for the full 24 hours in every day.

Your crew is made up of specialists, every one an expert in his line. Each one contributes his important part to the whole. Know their capabilities as well as their shortcomings. Know them as men as well as specialists. Know their background, their personalities, their individual problems, their needs for specific training.

You can't fly the B-29 by yourself. You need the full cooperation of your crew and you can get that cooperation only if the morale of your crew is good. You can help build that morale by taking the trouble to know just a little more than usual about your crew members. Find out who they were, where they lived, what they did before the war, and what their favorite hobbies, sports, and women are—it gives a man a considerable lift to have his commanding officer say something casually now and then about the town where he lived, his family, or the work that he once did. Make a point of showing genuine interest in your men; it will pay big dividends. Fill out the accompanying chart; it will help you to keep track of your crew's training progress.

Make your crew members feel that they are an important part of their airplane. Make a point of letting each man take a short turn at the controls during practice missions while you or the copilot stand by on dual. Make a tour of all stations at least once during every practice flight. Talk to the men, ask them questions about their duties, try to clear up any questions they may have. Make them want to have the best team in their squadron.

As airplane commander, you are responsible for the daily welfare of your crew. See that they are properly quartered, clothed, and fed.

See that they are paid when they should be paid.

Away from your home station, carry your interest to the point of financing them yourself, if necessary. You are the commander of a combat force all your own—a small but specialized army — and morale is one of the biggest problems in any army, large or small.

During Training

Train your crew as a team. Make teamwork their byword. Keep abreast of their training. It won't be possible for you to attend the courses of instruction with the members of your crew, but you should check their progress and their records constantly. Get to know each man's duties and help him to devise means for performing them quickly and efficiently. If knowledge is lacking on some specific point, supply it. Check your crew frequently.

Pair off your crew members and have them check and train each other. Simulate combat conditions and emergency situations and have each crew member describe his duties. Ask them what they would do under the following and similar conditions:

1. A designated crew member seriously wounded.

2. A designated turret out of commission.

3. Gasoline or oil spurting from a designated part of the airplane.

4. Abandoning the airplane.

5. Bombs failing to drop.

6. Bomb bay doors failing to open

7. Landing gear failure.

8. Forced landing in enemy territory.

9. Forced landing on water.

10. Fire.

A B-29 crew consists of airplanee commander, copilot, bombardier-DR navigator, navigator-radar specialist, flight engineer, radio operator, radar gunner, electrical specialist gunner, air mechanic gunner, a central fire control specialist gunner, and a tail gunner. As airplane commander you should:

1. Know your airplane and how it operates.

2. Be able to take off and land in the minimum distance.

3. Be able to take off and land under zero-zero conditions.

4. Be able to fly under instrument conditions either with or without radio aids.

5. Be able to use blind-landing systems.

6. Be able to navigate and locate your positions with the various radio and radar aids available.

7. Be proficient at formation flying, including the proper performance of evasive tactics at various speeds and altitudes.

8. Be able to get the most out of your airplane under all conditions.

9. Know your crew.

10. Know yourself.


Your copilot is your assistant—the executive officer of your command post. He should be able to do everything that you can do so that he can assume full command should the occasion arise. You and he should be virtually interchangeable. Let him handle the controls at least 30% of the time. He should be a potential airplane commander.


Your bombardier-DR navigator must:

1. Understand the bombsight, radar equipment, and automatic pilot in so far as they pertain to bombing.

2. Understand the normal and emergency operation of bombs, bomb racks, switches, controls, releases, doors, etc.

3. Understand and be able to operate the computing CFC sight.

4. Be proficient at pilotage and dead reckoning.

5. Be proficient at target identification.


Your navigator-radar specialist must:

1. Be proficient at pilotage, dead reckoning, and celestial navigation.

2. Understand the operation of, and be able to use, all available radio and radar equipment for navigation and bombing.

3. Be able to perform minor maintenance on all radar equipment.

4. Be proficient at target identification.


Your flight engineer is an important member of your B-29 combat team. He runs your airplane while you and your copilot fly it. In actual flight, he relieves you and your copilot of duties and responsibilities. On the ground, he supervises maintenance and keeps your airplane flyable. Check your flight engineer with questions frequently to make sure he is on the job. He should:

1. Understand the operation and maintenance of all mechanical equipment.

2. Be thoroughly familiarwith the engines and fuel, electrical, and oil systejfrts.

3. Be thoroughlyfamiliar with the cruise control charts, weights and balanсе, and all operating procedures.

4. Be thoroughlyi familiar with the pressure-ized cabin system.

5. Be thoroughly familiar with the putt-putt and auxiliary electrical system.

6. Be thoroughly familiar with the oxygen system.

7. Be thoroughly familiar with all fire-fighting equipment.


Your radio operator should:

1. Be thoroughly familiar with the operation and maintenance of all radio equipment aboard the airplane.

2. Be thoroughly familiar with the use of all radio navigational aids.

3. Be proficient in transmitting and receiving.

4. Be thoroughly familiar with IFF procedures and equipment.

5. Understand the operation and care of the radio compass.

6. Be thoroughly familiar with AAF instrument approach procedures and the signal operation instructions (radio authentication, special codes for the day, weather codes, blinker codes, radio call signs).


Your central fire control specialist gunner should:

1. Be thoroughly familiar with the care, maintenance, and operation of the entire central fire control system.

2. Be thoroughly familiar with the loading and servicing of the turrets.


Your specialist gunners should:

1. Know how to operate the computing sight.

2. Be thoroughly familiar with the central fire control system.

3. Know how to load and repair turrets.

4. Know their specialty.

Crew Discipline

Your success as the airplane commander will depend in a large measure on the respect, confidence, and trust which the crew feels for you. It will depend also on how well you maintain crew discipline.

Your position commands obedience and respect. This does not mean that you have to be stiff-necked, overbearing, or aloof. Such characteristics certainly will defeat your purpose.

Be friendly, understanding, but firm. Know your job, and, by the way you perform your duties daily, impress upon the crew that you do know your job. Make fair decisions, after due consideration of all the facts involved; but make them in such a way as to impress upon your crew that your decisions are made to stick.

Crew discipline is vitally important, but it need not be as difficult a problem as it sounds. Good discipline in an air crew breeds comradeship and high morale. And the combination is unbeatable.

You can be a good CO and still be a regular guy. You can command respect from your men, and still be one of them.

"To associate discipline with informality, comradeship, a leveling of rank, and at times a shift in actual command away from the leader, may seem paradoxical," says a former combat group commander. "Certainly, it isn't down the military groove. But it is discipline just the same—and the kind of discipline that brings success in the air."

No crew is ever any more on the ball than its airplane commander. Are your guns working? The only way you can be sure is to know how competent and reliable your gunners are. It is uncomfortable to get caught by a swarm of enemy fighters and find that your guns won't function.

What about your navigator? You can't do his job for him throughout training in the states and expect him to guide you safely over a thousand miles of water to a speck on the map. Remember that there aren't any check points in the ocean and you have to rely on your navigator.

Your bombs miss the target. Long hours of flying wasted . . . why? It may be because the bombsight gyro was not turned on long enough in advance or because the bombsight was not kept warm by means of the heater so that when the bombardier put his warm face to the eyepiece, it fogged up and was unusable. Who is at fault? The bombardier is, of course, primarily to blame, but in the background there is usually lack of leadership, guidance and inspiration.

Enforce these RULES on every flight


a. No smoking in airplane at an altitude of less than 1,000 feet.

b. No smoking during fuel transfer.

с Never attempt to throw a lighted cigarette from the airplane. Put it out first.


a. All persons aboard will wear parachute harness at all times from takeoff to landing.

b. Each person aboard will have a parachute on every flight.


a. No person will walk near propellers at any time whether they are turning or not.

b. No person will leave the airplane when propellers are turning unless personally or-dered to do so by the airplane commander.


a. Oxygen masks will be carried on all day flights where altitude may exceed 8000 feet for more than 4 hours, and on all night flights. (Except in Transition training.)


a. Tell your crew the purpose of each mission and what you expect each to accomplish.

b. Keep the crew busy throughout the flight. Get position reports from the navigator; send them out through the radio operator. Put the engineer to work on the cruise control and maximum range charts and require him to keep a record of engine performance. Give them a workout. Encourage them to use their skill. Let them sleep in their own bunks—not in a B-29. A team is an active outfit. Make the most of every practice mission.

c. Practice all emergency procedures at least once a week; bailout, ditching and fire drill.


a. Check your airplane with reference to the particular mission you are undertaking. Check everything.

b. Check your crew for equipment, preparedness and understanding.


a. Keep the interphone chattering. Ask for immediate reports of aircraft, trains, and ships

Just as you would expect them in combat—with proper identification.

b. Require interphone reports every 15 minutes from all crew men when on oxygen.