21st September 1942 Maiden Flight of the B-29

“Enola Gay” – the most infamous of all B-29s

Seventy-five years ago today saw the maiden flight of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, that huge American warplane whose atomic load would, with the bombing of Hiroshima, bring World War 2 to a sudden and dreadful conclusion. Faster, vaster, and with fuel tanks capable of carrying this heavy bomber over five-and-a-half thousand miles at a time – 2,000 miles further than any comparable contemporary aircraft – the B-29 was to become a potent symbol of America’s emergence from insular, strictly non-interventionist policies abroad into its aggressive Cold War role as Self-Appointed World Policeman. Hereafter, American aircraft technology endeavoured to bring all of the outside world within the range of its strategic bomber command, as subsequent postwar developments would draw up ever larger and more deadly warplanes such as the B-52 and the B-36 (cynically nick-named ‘The Peacemaker’).

In those decades before World War 2, the United States of America’s insular policy of neutrality owed much to the country’s remote geographical location, its homeland being protected to the east by 3,000 miles of Atlantic Ocean, and to the west by 7,000 miles of the Pacific. However, the Pearl Harbour attack, on December 7th 1941, so shattered Americans’ delusions of safety that President Roosevelt declared war on Japan the very next day. Nevertheless, it is mainly coincidence that the Superfortress flew for the first time just seven months after Japan’s infamous attack. For the B-29’s origins lay in the American Government’s erroneous fear that all of Europe would fall to Hitler’s Nazi regime, and that the Allies would be forced to continue the war by bombing Germany from bases in the USA and Canada. Once in this mistaken mindset, however, the canny American government soon appreciated how the deployment of such inter-continental weaponry could affect positively not just the immediate outcome of the USA’s war against distant Japan, but also compromise the postwar homeland security of the entire Soviet Union itself.  Though, somewhat ironically, the Russians had only to wait for three B-29s to make emergency landings in the Soviet Union in order to clone the Superfortress as the Tupolev Tu-4. Today, therefore, we note with a dreadful sadness that fateful day sixty-eight years ago when all of the world’s most remote and most beautiful places finally came within the range of America’s Atomic Bomb.

“A prosperous United States exerts, directly and indirectly, an immense beneficent force upon world affairs,” wrote Winston Churchill, in December 1937. Of our Modern World’s so-called policemen he did, however, add this ominous caveat to which we should pay ever increasing attention: “A United States thrown into financial and economic collapse spreads evil far and wide.”

[Written by Julian Cope]

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3 Responses to 21st September 1942 – Maiden Flight of the B-29

  1. Richard says:

    From the amount of effort put into military technology, defence and national security it seems clear that the Man don’t give a fuck about anybody else. Seeing the wonderful technological advances made lately (and there must be a lot hidden too, despite the foundation of open scientific endeavor from which it grew), the resources it gobbles up – it is an entirely destructive force. Trying to get a head around it (quit before you get ahead says D Thomas) always ends up with a polorised “technology isn’t going to save anything”, let’s go back to where we started sort of scenario, a la Against History Against Leviathon. It goes on. Whilst the scientific community is reporting of environmental collapses at fundamental levels in the oceans and the British Isles ecology, “defence” budgets continue to escalate. And it’s not science fiction, says the American Army. Explore our world, they advertise. They want us to believe in a fantasy. A science fiction fantasy gone horribly wrong, Marianne Joan Elliott-Said.
    The Soviets put an end to the long range nuclear bomber threat with the S-75 Dvina, that downed the U-2 1960, but that only encouraged the technology to go higher – satellites and global coverage. How long until there’s a neon Coca-Cola sign on the Moon?
    There’s technology aplenty in the hands of so-called leaders to solve problems but not the heart and soul. Perhaps not even the vision. In the words of B. Wright – something weird is going to have to happen to pull us out of this; let’s just hope it’s a good weird rather than a bad weird.
    The masses of munitions that backup the global terror drive us inside. There in the Collective Unconscious there are many demons lurking. All hail to the heroines and heroes who attempt to wake us up.

  2. Psychedelic Rob. says:

    The Monogram B-29 Superfortress, (Enola Gay no less: complete with bomb!?), was the first large scale model aeroplane I ever made and up until reading this article, I’ve always appreciated the classic engineering and its glorious reflective bulk. I guess that’s part of the way in which they indoctrinate us into their dominator paradigm, cause now I’m wondering how as an adult did I not consider my shiny silver model as an agent/symbol of international aggression and plunder.
    Here in 2015, as Europe begins to creak under the weight of those innocent people displaced by America’s Middle-Eastern campaign of ‘democracy’ as well as their ‘assistance’ in the Ukraine, Winston’ s caveat seems particularly resonant.
    I don’t think that we should discount technological development as purely destructive though, as Richard feels in his excellent comment, maybe just military technology?
    I think that the biggest driver of change and evolution in the modern world is surely internet/communication technology and it’s ability to foster person to person connections as well as forcing the light of transparency upon those who seek to deceive and give false account of themselves.
    And lest we forget without science and technology we wouldn’t have LSD or MDMA, two potential paradigm changers whose ability to engender psychic healing may just help us get to where going. Here’s hoping.

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