A Thrilling Ride on a B-29 Superfortress – Doc

Atomic bombs of World War II

On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay, a B-29 bomber, delivered the uranium bomb, known as “Little Boy” onto Hiroshima, exploding above the surface, and destroying five square miles of the city.

Three days later, another B-29 bomber, Bockscar, dropped a plutonium bomb, “Fat Man”, on Nagasaki, Japan. Days later, the second World War ended.

Unknown to many, Kokura, Japan was the alternate site for the Enola Gay and the primary site for Bockscar. Thick clouds / smoke from previous fire raids over Kokura forced Bockscar to divert to Nagasaki. This piece of history serves as a plot point in the Kantara Scrolls saga because the main character’s grandparents are from Kokura, Japan.

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress

The B-29 is a heavy bomber with four-engine propellers. It had state of the art technology such as a pressurized cabin and even an analog computer-controlled firing system where one gunner and a fire control officer could direct four remote machine gun turrets. Design and production costs were $3 billion (or an estimated $51 billion equivalent in 2022).

Walking up to Doc
Getting ready to board Doc

Doc’s history!

Doc is one of the 1,644 Superfortress aircraft built during World War II and one of only two that is still flying today.

Doc was assembled in March 1945. In July, 1951, Doc was part of the Seven Dwarfs squadron, assigned to radar calibration duty. In May of 1955, Doc had target-towing duty, and a year later, served as targets for bomb training at China Lake, California.

In 1987, Tony Mazzolini found Doc in the Mojave Desert. In April, 1998, Mazzolini took possession of the plane towed Doc out of its resting place in the desert where it had been resting for 42 years.

In May, 2000, plans began to restore Doc to flying conditions. The restoration project began in February 2013 and on June 2016, Doc was airworthy. On July 17, 2016, the 71-year-old Doc returned to the air.

Stephen and Mary pose for a picture in front of Doc.
On a windy day, Stephen and Mary pose for a pciture in Olathe, KS.

We fly aboard Doc!

On June 16, 2024, 11AM, we took a trip aboard Doc, a restored B-29 Superfortress in Olathe, Kansas.

We headed out early on Saturday, June 15, to drive eight hours to Olathe, Kansas, less than a half hour from downtown Kansas City, where we hung out for several hours.

Mary's selfie in the gunner's section.
Mary takes a selfie as Doc prepares for takeoff.

On Sunday, after a brief tour, they took flight. Kayti sat in the back, sitting in a gunner’s position, whereas Stephen rode up front, stationed at the radio operator’s position across from the navigator and behind the flight engineer.

Climbing into the cockpit of a B-29 Superfortress.
Stephen took a picture of his upcoming climb to the cockpit.

After extensive pre-flight checks, we finally took off and we were free to move about. There was a Millenium Falcon view in the cockpit with the exception that the engineer kept his window open.

Stephen poses for a picture in the cockpit while in flight.
A pilot takes a picture of Stephen in the cockpit.

The plane is considered by the FAA as an experimental craft, so all of the familiar safety features were not there. Getting a chance to walk around the cockpit and the gunner station was an experience you can’t get in a museum.

Check out our unique experience here.

The research continues

Despite this incredible adventure, the experience actually brought about more questions that need research. Such questions include: how were these planes modified to hold the bomb? What else was modified other than the bomb bay? Some of these questions may be lost to time. Even museum staff members are unaware of the answers.

The more we learn, the more we find conflicting information. Oh well.

Learn more about Doc and the incredible people who keep Doc flying here.

Get your copy of the Kantara Scrolls book series here.

Here is some additional resources in case you are interested in learning more.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress

The Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – History Channel

Nagasaki: The Commander’s Voice

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