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Boeing B-29-55-MO "Superfortress"
Engines: Four Wright R-3350-23 radial; 2,200 hp each
Wingspan: 141 ft 3 in
Length: 99 ft 0 in
Height: 27 ft 9 in
Weight: empty: 70,140 lbs; max: 135,000 lbs
Speed: cruise: 220 mph; max: 365 mph
Range: 5,830 miles
Service Ceiling: 32,000 ft
Armament: Twelve .50-caliber machine guns; up to 20,000 lbs bombs
Cost: $605,360 (average B-29 unit cost in 1944)
This B-29, S/N 44-86408 "Haggerty's Hag," was one of the 531 B-29s manufactured by the Glen L. Martin Company in Omaha, Nebraska. It was delivered to the USAAF on August 6, 1945, the same day that one of its older B-29 siblings was dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Later that month it was assigned to the 4141st Base Unit at Pyote Field, Texas. In May 1946 the plane was transferred to the 4121st Base Unit at Kelly Field, Texas.
In June 1948 the aircraft went to the 97th Bombardment Group of the Strategic Air Command, stationed at Biggs AFB, Texas. One year later it was sent to the 4002nd Base Services Squadron, Strategic Air Command, at Campbell Field, Kentucky. In October 1949 it traveled to the 43rd Bombardment Group (SAC) at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.
The 9th Bombardment Wing at Fairfield AFB, California, received the plane in August 1950 and it moved with them to Travis AFB, California, in February 1953. It was transferred to the Wright Development Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, in May 1953.
The aircraft was assigned to the 6750th Chemical and Ordnance Test Group, Air Research and Development Command, at Hill AFB, Utah, in June 1953. It was relocated to Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah, for chemical munitions testing. In November 1953 it was finally dropped from the USAF inventory while at Michaels Army Air Field, Dugway Proving Grounds. There the plane would rest for the next 30 years, used as a ground test vehicle for testing various types of chemical warfare agents.
On July 7, 1982 Russell C. Sneddon, Director of the Hill AFB Heritage Program, traveled to Dugway to meet with its Commander, Col. George A. Carruth. Sneddon hand-delivered a letter expressing the Heritage Program's desire to obtain the old B-29 for the Hill AFB Heritage Museum and Air Park.
Colonel Carruth said he was willing to release the aircraft, but another museum at Fairchild AFB, Washington, had already contacted him with a request for the plane. He also informed Sneddon that before anyone could leave with the B-29 it needed to be checked for possible chemical contamination, which would cost about $6,500.
Sneddon immediately contacted the Director of the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and requested that the B-29 be given to Hill AFB for restoration and display. The request was granted on August 17, 1982 and plans were immediately formulated for performing the required chemical tests and recovering the old bomber.
In the Fall of 1983 members of the 2952nd Combat Logistics Support Squadron from Hill AFB disassembled and moved the old B-29 by truck from Dugway to Hill Aerospace Museum for restoration and display.
It was laid out in the open near the site of the present museum buildings and a team of volunteers and USAF personnel went to work rebuilding the old warbird, under the leadership of Mel Blanscett, a former B-29 flight test engineer from Hill AFB with thousands of hours experience in the B-29. Blanscett also had years of experience as a leader of Rapid Area Maintenance (RAM) Teams, which performed major overhaul and restoration of USAF aircraft in remote locations around the world, including the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos.
By 1986 the aircraft was completely reassembled. For the next eleven years Blanscett worked mostly alone on the restoration of the B-29 as a volunteer with the museum. Mel passed away in the summer of 1997. The B-29 is currently awaiting complete restoration before being placed inside the Hadley Gallery.