For all its power and symbolism, the B-29 was born out of cost-cutting measures. "Hap" Arnold, head of U.S. Bomber Command, wanted the plane so achingly bad that he was willing to cut a few corners in order to get Congress to greenlight the project. One of the ways costs and weight were cut was via the use of magnesium alloy components in the engines. And if you paid any attention at all in high school chemistry, the one thing you know about magnesium is that it burns hotter than Satan's anus after an all-you-can-eat wing night.
National Park Service
Those aren't bombs dropping out of those planes.
Take an engine built from flammable components -- one that's already prone to fantastically overheating -- and toss it into the overbearing heat of the Pacific Theater, and you've just mixed up a recipe for disaster. Even worse, the fire-extinguishing system that was put in place to handle the inevitable engine fires failed 87 percent of the time. The first production run of 96 planes had only 16 that were determined safe to fly, presumably thanks to a single mechanic with questionable eyesight.
"Yeah, yeah, pass, whatever. I got pin-up art to masturbate to."
So why does the B-29 still hold onto its near-mythical status? Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The B-29 was the only U.S. plane burly enough to carry our atomic bombs to Japan. That's right: We shoved history's two most devastating weapons into a delivery vehicle widely known for its tendency to spontaneously burn to fucking cinders.
And that, boys and girls, is what we call good planning.
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