5.3 C
Elmira
Friday, April 3, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

One of two still-flightworthy WWII-era B-29 bombers makes a stop at airport in Breslau

TRENDING

News Briefs

Woolwich nixes traffic islands Displeased with the troublesome pedestrian islands installed during the Region of Waterloo’s reconstruction of Church Street...

Elmira company producing hand sanitizer as virus hits

Usually focused on your taste buds rather than your finger tips, Elmira-based Murphy’s Law Distillery has branched out...

A message from the publisher

Clearly, these are challenging times for all of us. Our world is more interconnected than ever, making facing...

Avoid all non-essential public gatherings, health officials advise

There is no safe number when it comes to public gatherings, says the region’s acting medical officer of...

THIS WEEK

Elmira
light rain
5.3 ° C
7.2 °
3.3 °
81 %
3.1kmh
90 %
Fri
6 °
Sat
10 °
Sun
12 °
Mon
15 °
Tue
14 °

A Boeing B-29 Superfortress nicknamed “Fifi,” one of only two remaining flying examples of the Second World War bomber, made a stop in Breslau this week.

The airplane was state-of-the-art for its time, expensive to develop, build and now maintain by the non-profit organization.

“This is what I call the space shuttle of 1945,” said Don Boccaccio of the Commemorative Air Force. “This was the first pressurized bomber, pressurized aircraft, period. This had auto-pilot, this had the Norden bombsight which was used to target the bombs, an onboard radar, remote control guns, an upper gun and a lower gun was depending on what they wanted, and it had 125-pound analog computers.”

Developing the bomber was estimated to cost in excess of $3 billion and was the single-most expensive weapons project undertaken by the U.S. in World War II.

“The development of this airplane cost more than the Manhattan Project, which is an atomic bomb,” said Boccaccio. “This cost more to develop than the atomic bomb did.”

It exceeded the cost of the Manhattan project by approximately $1 to $1.7 billion. As a result, the four-engine plane is costly to fly, both financially and maintenance-wise.

“This airplane uses 100 gallons of gas per hour, per engine,” said Boccaccio. “That’s 400 gallons an hour. And right now, about $3,000 in fuel alone it uses. It cost us over $10,000 an hour to run. And that’s with a complete volunteer crew. This whole crew here, and through the whole summer, has been volunteers. No one here is paid. We swapped in and out people from May to September. New interested volunteers constantly flow in and out.”

The plane never saw active duty, as it was built on July 31, 1945, one month before the war ended.

“She just had her 73rd birthday a few weeks ago,” said Rudy Vander Upwich, a B-29 volunteer. “So we celebrated with a little cake and just had a good time.”

“The wingspan is about 104 feet,” added Boccaccio. “The wingspan is longer than the Wright brothers first flight. And that was about 33 years later.”

Although it never saw active duty, it was flown for training purposes from time to time.

“Crew of 11, the typical crew was aged anywhere from 17 and 23,” said Boccaccio. “The average was 13 to 15-hour missions a day. They went from Tinian, which was one of the islands in the Marianas, to Japan and back – 13-hour round trip nonstop, every day. This never saw the European theatre at all. This was only in Japan, and the Pacific. So it never saw Germany or any of that.”

The plane has toured all over, including Nashville, Montreal, Peterborough, North Bay, before arriving here. It will continue to London today, Windsor, and then Hamilton. It will then go back to its home at the Vintage Flying Museum at the Fort Worth Meacham International Airport in Fort Worth, Texas.

The conservation group offers flights in the US$600-$700 range, but this week visitors could tour the plane on the ground for a more manageable $6-$15. After leaving Breslau Wednesday, the crew was heading to London, Ont.

“This is very popular; apparently Canadians don’t get to see a lot of this,” said Boccaccio. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime airplane to see.”

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

LIVING HERE

Sketches of our town

Slowing down and taking in our surroundings – the proverbial stopping to smell the roses – is oft discussed but seldom acted on. The measures put in place to slow the coronavirus...

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Woolwich approves waiving late fees in response to pandemic

Measures such as waiving late-payment charges, adopted last week by Woolwich council, may be just the first steps as the township deals...
- Advertisement -