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  B-29-45-MO "Enola Gay" Serial Number 44-86292  
USAAF
20th AF
509th CG
393rd BS

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USAAF August 1945

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Justin Taylan 2004

Aircraft History
Built by Martin-Omaha as a B-29-45-MO Superfortress at the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Plant at Bellevue, Nebraska. On May 9, 1945 while being built on the production line, this B-29 was selected by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., C. O. of the 509th Composite Group. One of fifteen B-29s modified as part of Silverplate. Delivered to the U. S. Army on May 18, 1945. Assigned to Captain Robert A. Lewis and crew B-9. On June 14, 1945 flown to Wendover Army Air Field, Utah.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 509th Composite Group, 393rd Bombardment Squadron whose mission was to drop the atomic bombs on Japan. On June 27, 1945 took off from Wendover Army Air Field on a ferry flight to Guam for further bomb bay modification and then flown to North Field on Tinian arriving July 6, 1945. Assigned victor number 12.

During the remainder of July, this B-29 made eight training missions plus two combat mission dropping "pumpkin bombs" (non-nuclear replication of the "Fat Man" bomb) on Kobe and Nagoya. On July 31, 1945 flew a training mission for the atomic bombing mission.

On August 1, 1945 assigned victor number 82 painted in black on the nose and tail markings of circle R of the 6th Bombardment Group as a security measure.

On 5 August 1945, Col. Tibbets assumed command of this B-29 and nicknamed it "Enola Gay" after his mother Enola Gay Tibbets. The nickname was painted in black block letters on the left side of the nose by Allan L. Karl.

On August 6, 1945 this B-29 was loaded from Atomic Bomb Pit No. 1 with the "Little Boy" atomic bomb. For the mission, this B-29 was flown by aircraft commander Major Charles W. Sweeney with crew C-15 usually assigned to B-29 "The Great Artiste" 44-27353. Took off from North Field on Tinian piloted by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr. at 02:45am bound for Hiroshima with alternate targets Kokura and Nagasaki. At 08:15 (Japan local time) from 31,600', this B-29 dropped the atomic bomb. 50 seconds later, the bomb exploded. Afterwards, "Enola Gay" returned to North Field Airfield on Tinian at 14:58.

On August 9, 1945 this B-29 was flown by Captain George Marquardt and crew B-10 on a weather reconnaissance mission over Kokura, and reported clear skies. By the time B-29 "Bockscar" 44-27297 reached Kokura was obscured by smoke from the bombing of Yawata and after three unsuccessful bombing runs diverted to the secondary target of Nagasaki.

Postwar
Afterwards, Enola Gay was flown back to the United States and operated from Roswell Army Air Field, New Mexico. In 1946, during "Operation Crossroads" flown to Kwajalein but was not used to drop another bomb. Afterwards, transferred to the Smithsonian Institution, and spent many years parked at air bases outdoors. In 1961, transported to the National Air & Space Museum (NASM) Paul Garber Facility.

Restoration
During 1984 to 2003, restored at the National Air & Space Museum (NASM) Paul Garber Facility. The wings, engine and cockpit were restored by 1995 and placed on display. During March to June 2003, the restored pieces were shipped to the new National Air & Space Museum (NASM) Udvar-Hazy Center. On April 10, 2003 the fuselage and wings were assembled.

Display
During 1995, on the 50th anniversary of World War II, the wings, engine and cockpit were displayed at the National Air & Space Museum as part of the exhibit "The Crossroads: The End of World War II, the Atomic Bomb and the Cold War". This was the first time "Enola Gay" had ever been displayed in public and the accompanying exhibit was deemed controversial because some felt it o focused too much on the Japanese side of the bombing . As a result of the controversy, Martin O. Harwit, Director of the National Air and Space Museum, resigned. In protest to the display, a protester threw red paint on the carpet to represent blood. On July 2, 1995, three people were arrested for throwing ash and human blood on the fuselage. The exhibition was closed on May 18, 1998 and the fuselage and pieces was returned to the NASM Paul Garber Facility to complete the restoration.

Since the December 15, 2003 opening of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM) Udvar-Hazy Center, the restored B-29 is on static display with jacks lifting it off the ground and a catwalks allowing visitors to see the nose view and look down from above. A clear protective shield protects the bomber's nose to prevent any vandalism by atomic protesters.

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Last Updated
January 31, 2018

 

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