|The following pictures and text are take from the United States Air Force Technical Order: T.O. 1B-29(T)-1, Partial Flight
Handbook, USAF SERIES TB-29 AIRCRAFT, dated March 15th 1956.
The TB-29 is a non-tactical, modified B-29 or B-29A, bombardier airplane designed for tow-target operation at medium and
high altitudes. Special equipment and controls are installed for carrying, launching, towing and relaunching tow targets. The
landing gear and tail skid are fully retractable. Because of the tow target modification, auxiliary fuel tanks cannot be carried in
the forward and aft bomb bays. The fuselage is divided into five major compartments: forward pressurized, bomb bay, aft
pressurized, aft unpressurized and tail compartments. The tail compartment, formerly tail gunner compartment, is open at the
aft end and is unpressurized. Bombardment equipment has been retained, but all defensive armament has been removed.
Two tow target pods are located externally under the tail compartment. The tow target pods are designed to carry 9 by 45
foot flag targets but also may be modified to carry 6 by 35 foot flag targets by installing pod adapters. Frangible targets can
also be launched.
|Tail turret optical sight mount, above left photo.
Tow Target Chutes, above right photo.
These chutes were added when this aircraft was converted the 1950s to a TB-29. Other modifications were the addition of
heavy control arms on each side of the tail with long tubes that ran from the bomb bay along the sides to these control arms.
The purpose of these arms were to control the tow target when deployed. Also seen in this photo are shell holes that pass
through the floor. These holes are from this TB-29s time as a ground target at China Lake Naval Weapons Station.
Martin B-29 "Super Fortress" Bomber Aircraft
A.A.F. Serial Number 44-86XXX
|History of B-29 44-86XXX:
This "Body, Installation - Tail" part number 3-14335-14 was produced by Hudson under Army Air Force
contract W33-038-AC-117. This tail section was assigned the Serial Number 377.
This contract was for the production of B-29 "Super Fortress" bombers produced by the Glenn L. Martin
Company. The B-29 was built in different components in six different facilities across the United States.
Each component was then shipped to the Glenn L. Martin factory in Omaha, Nebraska for final assembly
into a B-29 "Super Fortress".
Glenn L. Martin produced 536 B-29 "Super Fortress" bombers during World War Two. Also producing B-29
Super Fortress bombers during World War Two were the Boeing Aircraft Company and the Bell Aviation
The contract W33-038-AC-117 were produced in blocks of production and assigned the following Army Air
Force Serial Numbers:
B-29-1-MO 42-6229 through 42-6232 and 42-6343 (5)
B-29-5-MO 42-65202 through 42-65211 (10)
B-29-10-MO 42-65212 through 42-65219 (7)
B-29-15-MO 42-65220 through 42-65235 (16)
B-29-20-MO 42-65236 through 42-65263 (28)
B-29-25-MO 42-65264 through 42-65313 (50)
B-29-30-MO 42-65315 through 42-65383 (69)
B-29-35-MO 42-65384 through 42-65401 (18)
B-29-40-MO 44-27259 through 44-27358 (100)
*(B-29-36-MO 44-27296 through 44-27304 "Silverplate" project aircraft)*
B-29-45-MO 44-86242 through 44-86315 (74)
B-29-50-MO 44-86316 through 44-86370 (55)
B-29-55-MO 44-86371 through 44-86425 (55)
B-29-60-MO 44-86426 through 44-86473 (48)
Each aircraft under this contract cost $928,866.00 to include the engines, propellers and radio equipment.
This Hudson produced tail section was produced for the Glenn L. Martin company roughly during the Block
35, 40, 45 or Block 50 production (B-29-35-MO 42-65384 through 42-65401 - 18 Aircraft, B-29-40-MO
44-27259 through 44-27358 - 100 Aircraft, B-29-45-MO 44-86242 through 44-86315 - 74 Aircraft and
B-29-50-MO 44-86316 through 44-86370 - 55 Aircraft). This is based on the Hudson Serial Number 377.
In the 1950s, this B-29 was reconfigured to a TB-29 Trainer by the Oklahoma City Material Area at Tinker Air
Force Base with tow target chutes added under the tail gunner position. This TB-29 would be later taken to
China Lake Naval Weapons Station, California and used as a ground target for decades. This TB-29 would
eventually be cut apart for her precious scrap metal. This TB-29 tail section would be saved from the
scrapper in the 1980s. QuestMasters acquired this tail in April of 2010.
The exact history of the B-29 that this tail section is from is not currently known.
Known Martin produced aircraft that were used at China Lake Naval Weapons Station:
B-29-25-MO 42-65281 "Miss America". Converted to TB-29 in 1950. Currently at the Travis Air Museum.
B-29-36-MO 44-27298 "Full House" Silverplate Aircraft. Converted to TB-29 in 1950. Unknown disposition.
B-29-36-MO 44-27304 "Up 'An Atom" Silverplate Aircraft. Converted to TB-29 in 1950. Unknown disposition.
B-29-45-MO 44-86291 "Necessary Evil" Silverplate Aircraft. Converted to TB-29. Unknown disposition.
B-29-50-MO 44-86318 "Red 91". Not converted to TB-29. Unknown disposition.
Other famous Martin produced B-29s (not from China Lake Naval Weapons Station):
B-29-36-MO 44-27297 "Bockscar" Silverplate Aircraft, Hudson Tail S/N 239
B-29-45-MO 44-86292 "Enola Gay" Silverplate Aircraft
|B-29 Gunner Compartment, Starboard Side, left photo. Port Side, right photo.
This tail section was painted black after modification as a TB-29, as indicated by the black paint over the tow target chutes
that have been added to the bottom of the tail. The tail turret was removed during the modification to a TB-29 Trainer.
|"Body, Installation - Tail" nomenclature plate, left photo.
This plate is mounted on the bottom starboard frame, just prior to the pressurized hatch for the tail gunner compartment.
Nomenclature plate detail, right photo.
This plate is marked:
AIRPLANE MOD. B-29
DWG. OR PART NO. 3-14335-14
CONTR. NO. W33-038-AC-117
SER. NO. 377
This plate also has the company inspector mark 885 (in a circle) and customer inspector mark AN E474 (in a square).
|B-29 Gunner Compartment, view looking forward, above two photos.
Modifications when converted to a TB-29 were the removal of the tail turret, the adding of aluminum plate to the bottom of the
compartment and the addition of two grab handles on each side of the inside tail.
|Tail turret mounting bracket, above two photos.
|Bomb drop signal light, left photo.
Inside gunner's compartment, right photo.
|Port side escape "EMERGENCY RESCUE" stenciling, above two photos.
|Inside of gunners compartment, above two photos.
|Starboard side escape "EMERGENCY RESCUE" stenciling, left photo.
Starboard side horizontal stabilizer, right photo.
Barely visible on the starboard side horizontal stabilizer are the remains of a red stripe that runs from the leading edge to the
trailing edge. Several B-29s at China Lake have been seen with large red stripes on the wings and horizontal stabilizers. These
stripes were painted for visual recognition of the aircraft when they were used as gunnery target tug aircraft.
|Starboard side gunner windows, above two photos.
|Glenn L. Martin Contractors Guide, above photo.
This legend was taken from the B-29 Blueprint Handbook, Department of Education and Training, The Glenn L. Martin
Company, Omaha Nebraska, Revised Edition July 1944. This listing of sub-assemblies were made by: Glenn L. Martin
Baltimore and Omaha, Chrysler, Goodyear, Hudson and Briggs. This document also includes GFE - Government Furnished
|HISTORY AND CONVERSION OF THE TB-29 AND TB-29A: