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  B-29A-40-MO "The Great Artiste" Serial Number 44-27353  
20th AF
509th CG
509th BS

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing as a B-29-35-MO Superfortress at the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Plant at Bellevue, Nebraska. One of fifteen B-29s modified as a silverplate. On April 20, 1945 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-29A-40-MO Superfortress serial number 44-27353.

Wartime History
Assigned to crew C-15 commanded by First Lieutenant Charles D. Albury and ferried to Wendover Army Air Field in Utah. On June 22, 1945 departed from Wendover Army Air Field to North Field on Tinian. Assigned to the 509th Composite Group and 393rd Bombardment Squadron. Assigned Victor number 9.

During July 1945, this B-29 participated in twelve training missions flown by five crews during. On July 4, 1945 participated in a bombing mission against Rota. On July 8, 1945 against Truk. On July 9, 1945 against Marcus. On July 12 and 14 bombed Rota. On July 18 and 19 bombed Guguan. Flown by crew C-15 on an aborted mission and on July 24 dropped a "pumpkin bomb" (non-nuclear replication of the "Fat Man" bomb) on the railroad yards at Kobe. On July 29 flown by Captain Bob Lewis on a bombing mission against industrial target in Koriyama.

On August 1, 1945 assigned the circle R tail markings of the 6th Bombardment Group as a security measure, and it had its Victor number changed to 89. This B-29 participated in both atomic bombing mission.

On August 6, 1945 took off from North Field on Tinian piloted by Major Charles W. Sweeney as the instrument ship to measure the effects of the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Originally, this B-29 was to be used to drop the second atomic bomb. When the second bombing mission was moved up two days due to weather over Japan, instrumentation aboard had not been removed and B-29 "Bockscar" 44-27297 was used instead and the two crews changed planes.

On August 9, 1945 took off from North Field on Tinian piloted by Captain Frederick C. Bock and crew C-13 as the instrument ship to measure the effects of the second atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

After take off it flew to a rendezvous point and met B-29 "Bockscar" 44-27297. The other aircraft, B-29 44-27354 failed to arrive although the pair waited for an extra thirty minutes, before proceeding together.

Although B-29 "Enola Gay" 44-86292 flying a weather reconnaissance mission over the primary target Kokura reported it as clear, by the time the B-29s arrived, the target was obscured by smoke from the bombing of Yawata. Ordered to drop the bomb visually and not by radar, B-29 "Bockscar" 44-27297 made three unsuccessful bombing runs then diverted to the secondary target Nagasaki.

Over Nagasaki at 28,900' at 10:58 local time, the "Fat Man" atomic bomb was released and exploded approximately a minute later. The Japanese estimated 24,000 were killed, while U. S. estimated about 35,000. Afterwards, all three B-29s landed at Yontan Airfield on Okinawa, refuel then took off again and return to North Field Airstrip at 23:39.

Afterwards, nicknamed "The Great Artiste" after bombardier Captain Kermit Beahan. During November 1945 this B-29 was flown back to the United States to Roswell Army Air Field, NM. In July 1946, during "Operation Crossroads" assigned to Task Force 1.5 (TF 1.5) for the nuclear tests at Bikini.

Mission History
On September 3, 1948, participated in a polar navigation mission and developed an engine problem after takeoff from Goose Bay Air Force Base (Goose AFB), Labrador, and ran off the end of the runway while landing and was heavily damaged.

On September 27, 1949 scrapped at Goose AFB.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-29-40-MO Superfortress 44-27353
"27353 to the Martin Modification Center, Omaha, NB, for Code Silverplate conversion for the carriage of atomic weapons. Converted to Silverplate Victor number 89. Named "The Great Artiste". Was instrument ship on Aug 6 Hiroshima mission and on Aug 9, 1945 Nagasaki mission. Was the only aircraft to fly on both atomic bombing missions. Reported late 1946/early 1947 at Roswell Army Air Force Base, NM, as operational. Heavily damaged in accident at Goose Bay AB, Labrador Sep 3, 1948 when ran off end of runway while attempting to land after developing engine problem. Reclamation completed Goose Bay AFB, Labrador 27 Sep 1949. 44-61671 is on display at Whiteman AFB, Missouri as The Great Artiste."

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Last Updated
July 7, 2020


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