No weapons program in history demanded more from the men who served it than the B-29 Superfortress. The giant, seemingly perfect planes appeared to devastate Japan with impunity at low cost. The true story was horrifying. B-29 crews suffered wholesale death in hurry-up testing programs, bombed at dead-low altitudes without guns in the face of suicide attacks, and suffered unspeakable torture as P.O.W.s.
The B-29 bomber, which saw action almost exclusively in the Pacific Theater during World War II, represented a giant leap forward technologically from the B-17s and B-24s that flew over Europe. And while the crews of these older bombers won fame for their exploits, the B-29 flyers didn’t enjoy the same accolades, for the public perception was that their seemingly perfect planes allowed them to perform their missions with impunity. As UNSUNG HEROES OF THE B-29s reveals, the truth was far more complicated. The perfect missions from high above Japanese defenses were balanced by scores of dead-low bombing runs without guns into the face of determined kamikaze defenses. Captured crews suffered horribly in Japanese prison camps. And the rush to develop the B-29 claimed scores of lives in hurry-up testing, where design and manufacturing flaws were paid for in blood before the plane even entered active service. UNSUNG HEROES OF THE B-29 also includes a blow-by-blow account of the mission to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima from Paul Tibbets, the pilot.
Produced by Lou Reda Productions for The History Channel