David Knights' Weblog

January 25, 2014

Book review: B-29 Superfortress Units of the Korean War

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 11:03 pm
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B-29 cover

B-29 cover

Osprey Combat Aircraft #42
By Robert F. Dorr
96 Pgs, 16 pgs color illustrations
ISBN: 1 84176 654 2

The use of the B-29 in the Korean War was an unusual occurrence in aviation history.  The aircraft had been the cutting edge of strategic bomber technology just 5 years earlier.  In fact, it was the aircraft that dropped the bombs that ended the war with Japan.  A mere 5 years later, the B-29,  many of which had participated in World War II, were thrown in to the Korean War because they happened to be close by when the unexpected war broke out.  Even though more modern strategic bombers were available, (the B-36, B-47 and B-50) the U.S. continued to use the B-29 as the in-theatre strategic bomber throughout the three years of the conflict. (The recon version of the B-50, the RB-50G was used in small numbers in Korea)

This is a typical Osprey book.  It has 96 pages with a center section with color side-view illustrations.  The book starts with the outbreak of the Korean War.  The B-29 is thrown into the conflict almost by accident as they were the closest heavy bombers to the combat zone.  The B-29 is used as both a strategic bomber, hitting industry and airfields in North Korea, and as a tactical bomber, hitting bridges, railways and troop concentrations.

Initially, the B-29 was used in the daytime and at medium altitudes, as the NKAF had no aircraft capable of opposing the B-29.  However, once the Chinese intervened and brought the MiG-15 into the conflict, B-29 losses began to occur.  In order to minimize losses, the B-29s were switched over to nighttime bombing. At this point, many of the B-29s acquired black undersides on their previous overall bare metal finishes.

Robert F. Dorr does a good job of describing the use of the B-29 and intersperses the history with stories of typical missions throughout the war.  At the war’s end, the B-29 had flown 21,000 sorties and had experienced only 34 combat losses.  It is an amazing record given that the aircraft was at the end of its service life and had been technologically surpassed by developments in aeronautics.

For the modeler, the B-29 in Korea presents a number of colorful subjects for a modeler to choose from.   The B-29s in Korea had very colorful nose art, a carryover from the practice from the B-29s service in the Pacific in World War II.  Decals for Korean War B-29s are available from several manufactures in both 48th and 72nd scale from Kits World, Aeromatster, Superscale among others.  While the bare metal finish can present a challenge, a B-29 in a bare metal finish can be an impressive model.  This book will serve as a good inspiration for such a project.  Now, where did I put those decals for “Command Decision”?

This book retails for $17.41 on Amazon, and is also available on the Kindle for $9.99.

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