Meet the B-29 Superfortress Bomber: The World War II Weapon the Crushed Japan

Meet the B-29 Superfortress Bomber: The World War II Weapon the Crushed Japan

Warfare History Network


It killed an empire. 

President Harry Truman issued the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945, calling for the unconditional surrender of Japan, and many in the Japanese government wanted to accept it. Three members of the cabinet objected on the basis that the Declaration placed the fate of the emperor in question and branded members of the country’s former government as war criminals (the Japanese government had gone through two reorganizations since the invasion of Saipan).

As the Japanese delegation stood on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, preparing to sign the documents that ended World War II, a large formation of Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers swooped low over Tokyo Bay as a reminder of the terrible destruction that had befallen their nation and turned Japan’s cities into ruins. It was a reminder the Japanese really did not need—the bombed-out rubble and steadily smoking crematories around the country were evidence enough of the violent firestorm that had befallen the Land of the Rising Sun.

The national morale in Japan was so low that almost 70 percent of the people interviewed by U.S. military personnel after the surrender reported that they had reached the point where they were unable to endure one more day of war. Most Americans, especially the young soldiers and Marines who had been slated to invade the Japanese Home Islands of Kyushu and Honshu, believed that Japan surrendered because of the atomic bomb. They were wrong. In reality, the country had already been brought to its knees before the first atomic test at the Trinity Site in the New Mexico desert two months before. Japan had been destroyed by fire from above, fire that had largely been delivered from the bomb bays of an armada of Boeing B-29s.

The B-29 Deployment: A Political Decision

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