B-29A 44-61669 “49 Three feathers”

The B-29 at the March Field Museum is an A model serial number 44-61669. It was delivered to the USAAF on 5 May 1945 at the Boeing facility in Renton, Washington.   It was assigned to the 20th Air Force, 73rd Bomb Wing, 500th Bomb Group, 833rd Bomb Squadron flying combat missions out of Saipan.  It carried the name "Flagship 500" and had a "Z-49" on its tail at the end of WWII.   Its last USAF assignment was in 1956 with the 581st Air Resupply Group at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. It was transferred as a TB-29A trainer to the US Navy on 18 March 1956.  The aircraft was recovered from the Naval Test Center at China Lake, restored by a private organization, and flown from Daggett Field, Barstow, to March AFB in January, 1981 by MARC (Military Aircraft Restoration Corp.). This aircraft is on loan from the USAF. From 1981 to 2003, our B-29 had the nose art of the "Mission Inn" painted on the starboard nose.  (Click here to see more information about the "Mission Inn" B-29). This is the name of a famous hotel in neighboring Riverside, California, and was also the name applied to a former March Air Force Base - 22nd Bomb Wing "Superfortress'' that served in the Korean War. When the museum's B-29 (#44-61669) was recovered from the Gunnery ranges of the Naval Weapons Test Center - China Lake, California, in the mid 1970's (it was flown to the March Field Museum in August 1981), its history was almost completely unknown. Because of the fact that there once was a B-29 stationed at March AFB with "Mission Inn" nose art, it seemed appropriate at the time (1981) to put that nose art on the museum's B-29. But since learning of the airplane's actual history in the 500th Bomb Group, including 11 combat missions during WWII, it is currently planned to restore her original paint scheme of Z49 with nose art  --- Flagship "500". In June 1999, the museum learned that #44-61669 had been assigned to and flown by crews of the 883rd Bomb Squadron, 500th Bomb Group, 73rd Bomb Wing on Saipan! It was "Z-49", and had been called "Flagship 500." In checking back through the 73rd BW history, there is a photo (shown below) of this B-29 on page 5 in the January 1987 73rd Bomb Wing Newsletter. It was taken during an enroute stopover in Hawaii during "Operation Sunset." One of its crew members: Colonel Jack Dougherty, Commander of the 500th Bomb Group, was clearly shown in the photo and caption. In this photo, the B-29's name appeared in the 73rd BW "ball-and spear" insignia on the port side of the nose. http://www.marchfield.org/
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