The B-29 Superfortress debuted 73 years ago – relive it's legacy in photos

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A B-29 from the 468th Bombardment group attacking Hatto, Formosa on 18 October 1944 with high-explosive bombs. Overshot runway due to prop failure Jun 17, 1945 at West Field, Tinian. (Photo by US Army Air Forces Birdsall, Stephen via Wikimedia Commons)

On September 21, 1942, 73 years ago, the maiden flight of the Boeing B-29 “Superfortress” took place.

The plane was the successor of Boeing’s ultra-tough B-17 “Flying Fortress,” and the predecessor to the B-52 “Stratofortress,” which is still in use today.

The plane would become the long range, heavy bombing workhorse of the Pacific theater of World War II, where it achieved fame and infamy for dropping Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Relive the legacy of this iconic bomber in the pictures below.

The B-29 was very advanced for its time, featuring a pressurized cabin, tricycle dual-wheeled landing gear, and remote controlled gun turrets.

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Photo: USAF via Wikimedia Commons

Only the front and back compartments were pressurized, meaning that the crew had to crawl over the bomb bay via a narrow 35-foot tunnel.

crawling_crew_tunnel_turret_b-29

Photo via US National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons

At the time, it was the heaviest production plane in the world, weighing in at 105,000 pounds with an optional 20,000 pounds of bombs.

b-29_dropping_bombs

Photo by US Army Air Forces Birdsall, Stephen via Wikimedia Commons

A B-29 from the 468th Bombardment group attacking Hatto, Formosa on 18 October 1944 with high-explosive bombs. Overshot runway due to prop failure Jun 17, 1945 at West Field, Tinian.

In addition to bombs, the B-29 was armed with 12 remotely controlled .50 caliber Browning machine guns and a 20 millimeter cannon at the tail gun.

b-29_50cal

Photo by US National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons

Kenneth W. Roberts, of Weitchpee, Calif., assigned to the Japan-based 98th Bomb Wing, checks his trio of .50 caliber tail-stingers before another mission over North Korea in his U.S. Air Force B-29 “Superfortress.”

Here is rare color footage of a formation of B-29s dropping bombs.

via GIPHY

And watch the .50 caliber Browning machine guns take out a Japanese Zero.

via GIPHY

Famously, the Enola Gay bombed Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Three days later, another B-29, the Bockscar, bombed Nagasaki.

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Photo by US Department of Energy

The crew of the Enola Gay stands outside the plane.

After World War II, the B-29 went on to face jet-powered fighters in the Korean war.

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Photo by US Air Forces via Wikimedia Commons

A US F-84E refueling from a B-29 Superfortress over Korea.

Of about 4,000 B-29s produced, only one, the Fifi, remains airworthy. It is owned and maintained by the Commemorative Air Force, based at Addison, Texas.

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Photo by Ilikerio via Wikimedia Commons

The last flying B-29 at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

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This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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