B-29 operational range in WWII

Nov 2010
27
Operation Matterhorn - Wikipedia
"The key development for the bombing of Japan was the B-29, which had an operational range of 1,500 miles (2,400 km); almost 90% of the bombs dropped on the home islands of Japan were delivered by this type of bomber."

Boeing B-29 Superfortress - Wikipedia
"In addition to the logistical problems associated with operations from China, the B-29 could only reach a limited part of Japan while flying from Chinese bases. The solution to this problem was to capture the Mariana Islands, which would bring targets such as Tokyo, about 1,500 mi (2,400 km) north of the Marianas within range of B-29 attacks.
...
Range: 3,250 mi (2,824 nmi; 5,230 km)"

I wonder if the page for "Operation Matterhorn" is wrong about the range of B-29, mistaking the distance between the Mariana Islands and Tokyo for the operational range of B-29. According to Google, the distance is actually 2159 kilometers or 1342 miles. Suppose the bomber needs to fly back without refueling, the range should be cut in half, i.e. 3250/2=1625 miles. That's close to 1500, and considering the fact that the bomber needs to do its work at the target and needs a little extra fuel for safety, maybe the page for "Operation Matterhorn" is right. What do you think?
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,723
Dispargum
Aircraft statistics are surprisingly inconsistent about figures like range. Some sources define range as total distance flown, ie, straight line distance. Other sources describe the range as out and back which would be half the straight line distance. There is also ferry range which is how far the plane can fly stripped down of excess weight such as bombs and with extra fuel tanks. There are also issues of nautical miles vs statute miles. Your Google range of 1342 nautical miles converts to 1,500 statute miles. I would go with combat radius (out and back carrying a load of bombs during the outward leg) of 1,500 statute miles.
 
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MG1962a

Ad Honorem
Mar 2019
2,161
Kansas
...
Range: 3,250 mi (2,824 nmi; 5,230 km)"
If you look a little further you will see Ferry Range 5600 miles. Basically, your 3250 range is fully loaded with an ideal cruising speed and altitude. Lighten the bomb load and/or change the parameters of the mission you extend the range.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,340
Sydney
somewhere , there was the information that Iwo jima was taken to provide an emergency landing strip for B-29
in fact the first B-29 in distress landed on the Southern air strip while the battle still raged on the northern part
 

MG1962a

Ad Honorem
Mar 2019
2,161
Kansas
somewhere , there was the information that Iwo jima was taken to provide an emergency landing strip for B-29
in fact the first B-29 in distress landed on the Southern air strip while the battle still raged on the northern part
Yeah operation Matterhorn began well before that though. I do know the US used to station subs along the expected routes of the bomber missions to pick up crews that may have been downed on the return leg. I think they have used the big flying boats as well, but I don't have any real info on that :(
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,340
Sydney
pilot rescue was one of the classic sub duty ,
one such had some problem when they received the message that a big task force was racing along their path
the escort planes would treat any sub as enemy and attack
they had the choice of submerging and taking their chances or racing with their diesels on the surface and take their chances
 

MG1962a

Ad Honorem
Mar 2019
2,161
Kansas
pilot rescue was one of the classic sub duty ,
one such had some problem when they received the message that a big task force was racing along their path
the escort planes would treat any sub as enemy and attack
they had the choice of submerging and taking their chances or racing with their diesels on the surface and take their chances
I saw an interview years ago that suggested the subs would run just below the surface, trail rope with a dingy at the end of it, and just sail around when they were concerned about being spotted and let the crew grab the rope.
 
Oct 2015
948
Virginia
According to the Air Force official history (Craven and Cate) the original specification for the B-29 approximated a 2,000 mi radius of action, but quantity productionwas ordered before a prototype flew. Later combat experience settled on a combat radius, with bomb load, of about 1600 nautical miles. From bases near Chengtu in China, only extreme westerly Kyushu was in range. From the Marianas all of Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu west and south of Tokyo was within the 1600 mi circle. Combat radius could vary to some extent based on bomb load, operating altitude etc.
 
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JPK

Jun 2019
67
Chicago Suburbs
Operation Matterhorn - Wikipedia
"The key development for the bombing of Japan was the B-29, which had an operational range of 1,500 miles (2,400 km); almost 90% of the bombs dropped on the home islands of Japan were delivered by this type of bomber."

Boeing B-29 Superfortress - Wikipedia
"In addition to the logistical problems associated with operations from China, the B-29 could only reach a limited part of Japan while flying from Chinese bases. The solution to this problem was to capture the Mariana Islands, which would bring targets such as Tokyo, about 1,500 mi (2,400 km) north of the Marianas within range of B-29 attacks.
...
Range: 3,250 mi (2,824 nmi; 5,230 km)"

I wonder if the page for "Operation Matterhorn" is wrong about the range of B-29, mistaking the distance between the Mariana Islands and Tokyo for the operational range of B-29. According to Google, the distance is actually 2159 kilometers or 1342 miles. Suppose the bomber needs to fly back without refueling, the range should be cut in half, i.e. 3250/2=1625 miles. That's close to 1500, and considering the fact that the bomber needs to do its work at the target and needs a little extra fuel for safety, maybe the page for "Operation Matterhorn" is right. What do you think?
Range and radius are often confused. Range is the total distance flown and radius is the distance from home base to target. The article that quotes 1500 miles as the range probably meant radius. It is about 1500 miles from the Mariana Islands (the main B-29 bases) to Tokyo.
 
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Jun 2019
35
USA
The longest B-29 raid of WWII was on August 14 1945, just before the War ended.
The 315th Bomb Wing in Guam flew almost 3800 miles over 17 hours, to drop 20,500 pounds of 100 and 250 pound bombs for the Nippon Oil Refinery 277 miles NW of Tokyo.