B-29 question

Why wasn’t the B-29 used in the European theater?

It’s long range capability was needed more in the Pacific, so the Pacific theater got priority when the B-29 was first coming off the line.

I believe because either by the time it was manufactured, the war in Europe was pretty much over.

Also, the B-29’s high alititude and long range probably made it more useful in the Pacific theater, with all that ocean and all.

It seems to me that, with their range, they could have flown two bombing runs in one. Take off from England, run the first bombing run. Land in Russian territory re-arm, perhaps change crews and run another on the way back to England.

Would this not have worked?

Because the USSR was not at war with Japan until 1945. Stalin was neutral, because he didn’t want a war on 2 fronts.

The Russians had a habit of making it hard for the other allies to use their territory - one of the early postwar Tupolev bombers was an exact copy of a couple of B-29s that made emergency landings in Russian territory that they neglected to return to the United States. The Russians were never willing to allow other nations to base forces in their territory anyway, so the USAAF would’ve had to rely on Russian mechanics to maintain a state-of-the-art aircraft loaded with top-secret electronics, bomb sights, and navigation equipment. Unlikely at best, unwise at worst.

It might have worked but they would have lacked fighter cover. The problem in Europe was not the range of the bombers but the range of escort fighters. They didn’t have a fighter that could make it to Berlin and back until the P-51. B-29s didn’t need fighter cover as much because the Japanese air force was little threat that late in the war. The bombing in Europe started much earlier and the Luftwaffe was still inflicting massive damage on the bombers.

Plus, the Soviets were most un-cooperative about Allied aircraft using USSR territory, mostly for their own political/strategic ends; the Warsaw Uprising might have turned out differently had the USSR allowed RAF and USAAF planes to land after bombing or dropping supplies to the resistance in Poland.

Stalin preferred to let the Poles fight themselves to death against the Germans–he didn;t particularly want a core of armed and experienced Poles causing the Soviets problems once they took over.

They couldn’t get it through the stage door.

Incubus called it right.
According to this webpage the first production B-29 rolled off the assembly line in september 1943 and by the time you train the crews and ferry the aircraft over to England the Allied forces had liberated most of France and no longer needed long range bomber as they could use short and medium range bombers based in France to reach Berlin and points east.

As a mind-messing maneuver, USAF did have a couple of B-29’s sent over to England with some publicity, just to make sure Germany knew about it. The RAF even went so far as to assign their own name to the design, the Washington in this case, as they usually did with American-built airplanes they used themselves.

The furious rate at which German aircraft companies tried to develop high-altitude interceptors, including rocket-powered and even kamikaze versions, may have resulted from fear of having to contend with the Superfortress/Washington. The more you give your enemy to think about, and the more you make him plan for, the better off you are.

But other posters are right - the B-29 would not have shortened the war in Europe, but it made a huge difference in the Pacific.

[Nitpick On]
The United States did not have an air force as a separate branch of the military in WWII. Osme here are referring to the USAF in WWII operations. At that time the Air Force was part of the Army. The USAF was created in 1947 as a separate branch of the military.
[/Nitpick Off]

USAAF was commonly referred to as “The Air Force” even before it became USAF. But you’re right.

This did this a few times with B-17s or B-24s (sources at homes). The reason they didn’t do it more was that basically, like the other posters say, the Soviets were dicks about it.

The logistics to run flight operations from two different bases even with todays Air Force nevermind with the Army Air Corps of the early 40’s would be in my opinion too great.

Consider that aircraft are complex pieces of equipment with their own individual problems, quirks, etc., that are sometimes only understood by their own dedicated crew chiefs and maintenance personnel. Not that this couldn’t be overcome with meticulous documentation in the maintenance records, which stay with the aircraft, but this could hamper operations. Ground crews know their aircraft intimately, I’ve even known some to perform the Vulcan mind meld with their aircraft to troubleshoot problems. PAIN… the Cpu is in PAIN! The point being that they can monitor, diagnose and fix problems faster than anyone and time is always of the essence.

If your scenerio was one that airbase A is in England and airbase B is in Russia sharing a squadron of aircraft than one base or the other is not being utilized. A great waste of resources.

If both bases had their own squadrons, you would inevitably run out of one or more of the following; space, munitions, fuel, personnel, etc. In effect you are dedicated to servicing two squadrons of aircraft, therefore you would need a much larger supply of everything.

Just some random thoughts.

9 Squadron and 617 Squadron of the RAF did something similar in an attack on the Tirpitz in September 1944, flying in Lancasters. They took off from Lossiemouth in Scotland with their bombs and flew to Yagodnik, where they refuelled. Then they flew from Yagodnik, bombed the Tirpitz in Alten Fiord, and landed again in Lossiemouth. (ref: Paul Brickhill 1951 The Dam Busters pp 221-238.)

They did this because they could not fly a Lossiemouth-Alten Fiord round trip (at least, not with bombs aboard on the outwards leg). But they could manage England-Berlin-England. So what would have been gained by flying England-Berlin-Russia-Berlin-England instead of England-Berlin-England-Berlin-England?

Besides which, supplies and ground crews were scarcer in Russia than in England.


It’s actually fairly commonly done today by B-52s, B-1Bs and B-2s. Take off from their stateside base, refuel a few times over the Atlantic, fly the mission (over, say, Afghanistan). Land on Diego Garcia, rest up while the aircraft is refuelled and reloaded, take off the next day, fly a mission, refuel a few times over the Atlantic, land at their stateside base. Take a day off, and do it again…

Of course, ground crews from that squadron are in place at Diego Garcia, and the British are a lot friendlier about the US using their bases than the Soviets were with anybody, but it’s not a prohibitively complicated mission profile.

From my book, copyright me:

FRANTIC (Allied 44) Raids conducted by American bombers based in Britain or the Mediterranean which then landed at bases built by the Americans in Soviet-controlled Ukraine. This shuttle bombing technique complicated the defense of German targets. Originally, this program was to lead to establishing three heavy bomber groups in Soviet territory permanently. Only seven missions were actually flown and only a small contingent of U.S. troops were based on the Eastern Front. The first mission was designated FRANTIC JOE. See BELLICOSE.

FRANTIC JOE (Allied 44) The first bombing raid of the FRANTIC series, conducted on 2 June, 1944. American bombers flew from bases in southern Italy attacking Debrecen en route to Soviet airfields at Focsani. This attack supported Red Army operations which in turn neatly coincided with the OVERLORD invasion. A German spotter plane located the American aircraft, which were quickly attacked on the ground by the German Air Force. Concerns raised by this effective German air raid derailed plans to maintain a large force of American bombers in the Soviet Union permanently. The name FRANTIC JOE was changed to FRANTIC to avoid any possible reference to Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator.