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Boeing Washington (B-29)


High-Altitude, Long-Range Strategic Heavy Bomber Aircraft


Aviation / Aerospace

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Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted; American B-29 pictured.

The Washington was nothing more than a British redesignation of the Boeing B-29 - acquired to fulfill a nuclear weapons delivery role with the RAF.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 6/28/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
In the post-World War 2 period beginning the Cold War (1947-1991), the British Royal Air Force (RAF) found itself with little to no viable option for the long-range strategic bombing role - particular that as related to nuclear weapons delivery. Its proven wartime fleet of Avro "Lancaster" and the subsequent late-war Avro "Lincoln" (a derivative of the Lancaster itself) four-engined heavy bombers were now weary, under-performing veterans who had seen their best days and there proved few locally-grown options to be had for the service. As such, the United Kingdom looked to its wartime ally in the United States and focused on acquiring the late-war Boeing B-29 "Superfortress" design to fill the void (nearly 4,000 were eventually built). While not the long-term answer sought by the RAF, the Boeing product was a proven solution - albeit itself growing evermore obsolescent in the jet age - but the old high-flying bomber still held some life and furthermore provided the British with the needed range and nuclear weapons delivery that it sorely lacked.

This led to the RAF acquiring, by way of loan, three B-29 and a further 80 B-29A production bombers from the U.S., resulting in the local designation of "Washington" being given to the type - more formally the "Washington B.Mk I". The acquisition was official on January 27th, 1950 and deliveries began to RAF Marham as soon as March of that year. Before the end, the bomber made up no fewer than ten complete RAF squadrons and the fleet was actively operated into 1953-1954 before given up (three examples converted to ELINT - "ELectronic signals INTelligence" - platforms). By this time, the service had taken on the more modern, jet-powered, English Electric "Canberra" (detailed elsewhere on this site) for the role and the remaining seventy B-29s were returned to the U.S. the ELINT platforms were succeeded by de Havilland "Comet" aircraft in 1958.

Washingtons officially flew under the Royal Air Force banner until 1954 and a pair saw extended service lives under the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (running tests for the British Ministry of Supply) with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) from 1952 until mothballed in 1956. In 1957, these holdouts were eventually stripped of their usefulness and scrapped.


Specifications



Year:
1950
Status
Retired, Out-of-Service
Crew
11
[ 83 Units ] :
Boeing Company - USA
National flag of Australia National flag of United Kingdom Australia; United Kingdom
- Ground Attack
Length:
99.02 ft (30.18 m)
Width:
141.24 ft (43.05 m)
Height:
27.72 ft (8.45 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Boeing Washington B.Mk I production model)
Empty Weight:
74,957 lb (34,000 kg)
MTOW:
134,482 lb (61,000 kg)
(Diff: +59,525lb)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Boeing Washington B.Mk I production model)
4 x Wright R-3350-23 "Duplex Cyclone" 18-cylinder turbo-supercharged, air-cooled radial piston engines developing 2,200 horsepower driving four-bladed propeller units.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Boeing Washington B.Mk I production model)
Max Speed:
224 mph (360 kph; 194 kts)
Service Ceiling:
31,857 feet (9,710 m; 6.03 miles)
Max Range:
5,592 miles (9,000 km; 4,860 nm)
Rate-of-Climb:
900 ft/min (274 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Boeing Washington B.Mk I production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
8 to 12 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 air-cooled Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) in dorsal and ventral remote-operated turrets and a tail gun emplacement.

Internal bomb bays for conventional and nuclear drop bombs between 5,000lb and 20,000lb combat loads depending on operating range desired.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Boeing Washington B.Mk I production model)
Washington - Base Series Name; three B-29 and 80 x B-29A production models acquired by the RAF.
Washington B.Mk I - Royal Air Force designation for B-29/B-29A.
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