Bombers Invade Birmingham
Bombers of yore land at the Southern Museum of Flight.
Two of America’s most lethal weapons from its past military arsenal, the B-29 Superfortress and the B-24 Liberator, will be on exhibit at the Southern Museum of Flight through May 23. The Superfortress, which eventually replaced the B-24 and B-17, has been hailed as the weapon that won the war against Japan. With a range of 3,700 miles, the bomber was considered ideal for the Pacific war theater and its long over-water flights, and did not participate in European combat missions. In 1945, the most destructive bombing raid in history was carried out by 299 B-29s as they leveled 17 square miles of Tokyo. In August 1945, a pair of Superfortresses dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, forcing the Japanese to surrender. Among the B-29′s novel features were pressurized crew areas and guns that fired by remote control. The B-29 later operated in Korea, and the last Superfortress was retired from duty in 1960.
The B-24 Liberator was designed in 1938 as an improvement on the B-17. Approximately 19,000 were produced, more than any U.S. warplane of any era. Deployed in both Europe and the Pacific, the Liberator flew more combat missions than any other aircraft in World War II. The B-24, the only plane to be used by all U.S. military branches, was a production marvel. Its construction was so precisely engineered that a bomber could be built every 100 minutes. The Liberators were the top anti-submarine aircraft in World War II and were credited as the main reason for the German U-boat’s demise.
The B-29 that will arrive in Birmingham is the only flying Superfortress in the world. The accompanying B-24 is the oldest Liberator still in operation. Tours of the bombers are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 7 to 18. A limited number of half-hour local flights will be available for $400. For more information, call 833-8226