Author Topic: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)  (Read 12318 times)

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Offline BanzaiCat

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Note: This thread is for posting of mission logs for the B-29 campaign I am about to undertake, playing the 2nd edition of B-29: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945, published by Legion Games. Feel free to comment in this thread if you would like, or in the other "discussion" thread. Doesn't matter to me.  O0

On July 5, 1944, construction began on one of hundreds of B-29s in the Wichita Boeing plant in central/southern Kansas. Thousands of workers, including many ‘Rosie the Riveters,’ toiled in endless shifts to put together the sinews of the American war machine, and these B-29s were some of the most technologically-advanced weapons systems ever built by man.

As such, they were prone to bugs and issues, but the necessity of war, specifically the bombing of Japan from the newly-captured Marianas Islands, was of utmost importance. So, kinks were worked out as they cropped up; planes were fixed by mechanics in the field and eventually, these fixes made it back to the plant to be incorporated into future B-29s.

At the same time, eleven men went through B-29 training, men whom all wondered what the hell they'd just gotten themselves into, playing caretaker to a monster of a plane that was intimidating as all get-out up close.

B-29 Flight Procedure and Combat Crew Functioning Video
Note: This video is long (just over 36 minutes), but it’s a fascinating look at the B-29 from the crew’s POV.



As we completed training, the B-29 that would eventually become ours was getting ready to roll off the assembly line in Wichita. It went through the normal shakedown flight and was given a clean bill of health, then released to the Army Air Corps for transport to the Marianas.


"Our" B-29, almost off the assembly line in Wichita, Kansas.


Her maiden flight, fortunately made with flying colors and no gremlins discovered!

When we arrived, we were assigned to a training B-29 that was named “L-011.” These B-29s did not have names; that would happen later. We got hands-on training on the B-29’s systems, and even though we’d had that done to death stateside, this was the vast Pacific Ocean, so further training was needed. Our ‘cherry popper’ flight was taking a navigation tour to a distant island, and then turning around and finding our way home. Fortunately, despite nervousness all around, everyone did their jobs flawlessly and the L-011 made it back without crashing into the ocean.

We were congratulated by the squadron commander, Colonel James Francis III, and were quickly assigned “our” B-29. Despite having seen the insides and outsides of more B-29s than we could count, we went over her with a fine-tooth comb with awe. This was a big ol’ lady, and she was more complicated than anything ever built before.

Ten miles of wiring, four analog computers, enough fuel capacity to fly over 5,500 miles, and an ability to fly over 200 miles an hour cruising or up to 350 miles per hour with the throttles to the stop…this was a plane of beauty, one that could strike fast, hard, and be home before the enemy knew what hit them.

We hoped, anyway.

We then had to decide on a name. Some of the guys on the crew (who are we kidding – ALL of them) were pun masters of the umpteenth degree. One reason we worked so well was the ability to try to top each other with punnery, and bad humor was always a welcome stress reliever. Eventually, we decided on “Miss Punctuality” to not just reflect our love of puns, but the fact that we intended to be on target, every time.



After our crew chief and ground crew came up with an incredible logo and painted it on the side, the flight crew of the B-29 ‘Miss Punctuality’ posed for a photograph in front of her. We were ready for action, though we each knew, in the back of our minds, the dangers of operating out here across thousands of miles of ocean, bombing an enemy that had fanatical devotion and a willingness to die trying to take us down.



(By the way: my bad. I had put “Radio Observer” as undercovergeek’s position, when it really was supposed to be “Radar Operator.” Oops.)

We thought we were ready, that is. We all knew we had to get through 35 missions to Japan, including possibly Iwo Jima, to get a ticket home. Home was a place we all longed for, as we’d all been gone from it for many months now. Letters served as a fragile pipeline to those we left behind. But there was no choice – we were at war, and our country needed us.

Next: Mission 1.

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2014, 07:31:55 AM »
Registering for comment tracking. :)
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Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2014, 11:39:00 AM »
MISSION 1

NOTE: I am VERY verbose in this first post, mostly because there are some game mechanics I explain along the way. I imagine as this progresses, the mechanics will fall off and the narrative will pick up. Other mission logs may be much shorter – I just don’t know yet. There will be some skipping ahead, as it’s going to be dull at times and I’m not reporting what happens in each Zone. You’ll get the hang of it, I hope, as quickly as I do.

Long before dawn, we were to awaken, but some of us were long since awake already. Today would be our first mission in our new B-29 and there were some of us that could not sleep due to nerves, and some that could not sleep due to excitement.

I guess it depended on your point of view and what was within your control. As pilot, I was not only in charge of this monster plane and its deadly cargo, but for the ten other souls on board – if they didn’t do their jobs, I wasn’t doing mine. And it didn’t help my own sleep that I tried to go through every emergency checklist in my head. I knew all of them by heart, knew the plane down to every last bolt and wire, but still, I worried. Iwo Jima was a long way from the Marianas, and Japan was even further.

As the officers headed to the briefing tent, the horizon still hiding the sun beneath a veil of blackness, the heat of the island of Tinian was unbearable. You could tell who was from the north and who was from the south by the way we each sweat. I hate the heat.

We jabbered a bit as we headed for the tent, mostly speculating about where we would go. I didn’t offer an opinion, but in the back of my mind, I thought surely they’d send us to Iwo Jima. The scuttlebutt was that the island would be assaulted soon, and that would reduce nearly in half the distance we’d need to fly to get to Japan. The B-29 had range on her, but some targets in Japan would push that. Weather and enemy fighters could be an issue, too. So too could the B-29 herself, as she was still relatively new and full of bugs. Keeping her in the air would be an 11-man job, and even then, who knows.

I kept thinking Iwo Jima, and someone must have been listening to me, because when they moved the curtain aside to reveal our target, my stomach sank.



So, it would be Nagoya, in Japan.

Apparently Nagoya has nearly half the aircraft production capacity in all the Japanese Home Isles, and that made it a nice, fat target. That was a hell of a long way to go, though. We’d definitely need our auxiliary tanks, though with those, we should have plenty of ‘play’ in our flight plan.

The Intelligence briefing has some good news – namely, that Japanese fighter resistance is expected to be nil, thanks to some carrier raids on area Imperial Army and Navy airfields. Some smile in relief, while others look worried. Since there is no expected enemy fighter resistance, we will not have any escorts on this mission.

NOTE: I rolled poorly on this table, but the modifier due to no expected enemy resistance didn’t help much at all. My roll alone would have doomed us to doing this mission alone, regardless of modifiers.

Heading over to our revetment where Miss Punctuality sat, the crew was eager to get going. The ground crew had already checked her over and loaded her up, but as the crew it was our responsibility to go over it again and be sure all was well. It was my job as pilot to ensure they all did it right, but I needn’t worry – they knew what they were doing, and before I knew it, we were climbing into the different pressure sections of the B-29.

Preflight checks were good, and we went through the routine of starting her up. The Flight Engineer, M/SGT Barthheart, went through the routine of letting me know which engines were ready to start, and the ground crews stood by with fire extinguishers as the engines coughed to life, sputtered, and caught. M/SGT Barthheart maneuvered the controls on his board to ensure the engines were running smoothly.



We taxied into position, being very careful with the brakes. Among the hundreds of other things swimming through our minds, we knew that brakes often failed on these beasts because of the enormous weight put on them. Starting and stopping constantly was a sure way to brake failure and getting the tail guns of the bird in front of you in your front windows.

Finally, it was our turn to take off. Brakes were set, engines brought up to power, and brakes released. Even with all that power built up, it took a moment or two before Miss Punctuality, loaded down like never before in her short life, started to slowly move down the runway. I willed her to go faster, feeling every eye on the base on us, and it felt like I could get out and walk faster. I saw we were getting up there in air speed, and I waited for the right moment before nodding to the Co-pilot, 1/LT JasonPratt, to help pull back on the yokes. Even with the two of us, it felt like pulling a steel girder through molasses, but finally, Miss Punctuality’s nose started to lift and the runway began to fall away beneath us.



Historically, given the distances the B-29s had to travel, it was impossible to have all-day trips; in other words, the bombers had to usually take off at night in order to ensure they could have some daylight when they came back to land. Night missions, later on in the war, made this a moot point as bombers took off in daylight and came back in daylight. For the first 10 missions, the rules tell you to always treat takeoffs and landings as if they are done during daylight hours. Guess they don’t want you dying in your first takeoff…or at least, have less of a chance of that happening!

We fought her weight to get climb speed; this was as dangerous a moment in our flight as being over Japan, or so I’d heard. More birds crashed on take-off than had been shot down, not to mention the many aborts and returns to field. I tried to push all of that out of my mind as our wings gained purchase in the stifling air as dawn broke to our right, and we soared off in the opposite direction.



Taking off in one of these things is indeed a challenge; there’s a table to roll on to ensure we manage to make it off the ground safely. I had visions of us crashing on take-off, and of course with 34 missions left that could still happen – but it’s best to not think of such things! Fortunately, we succeeded. This time.

As we left Tinian airspace, we started to gain altitude; our mission called for us to meet at MED altitude in Zone 3, so I went ahead and put us up there.

Navigating across open ocean is not an easy task, and it’s something of a chore in this game. Until our bird gets into the main formation of bombers, we have to conduct Navigation Checks. This isn’t just the Navigator’s job – though the lion’s share of it belongs to him. It’s a team effort. I have to roll on four separate tables to get modifiers to a roll on a FIFTH table to determine if we’re on or off course. These four tables are Pilotage, Dead Reckoning, Celestial Navigation, and Radio Navigation.



As you can see from the above image, B-29 has a Zones track which the bomber follows. Since we’re meeting the formation in Zone 3, we have to roll for navigation in Zone 1, 2, and even 3, before we can determine if we join up with the formation or not. Missing the formation, or failing a Navigation Check, can mean burning extra fuel looking for a recognizable navigation feature, or finding a signal to work off of. As I said, it’s a team effort.

I can feel the fuel burning out of the tanks as the thirsty, titanic engines suck it greedily. This baby can go far, but the fuel only lasts so long. Damage to a wing tank, or leakage, or just outright miscalculation, can mean bailing out or ditching somewhere in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.

B-29s in this game have 38 Fuel Units. They can also carry auxiliary tanks, one in the forward and one in the aft bomb bays, which each provide an extra 4 units of fuel. With each Zone we enter laden with bombs, we use up 2 units of fuel. Taking off has the possibility of burning 2 more, but I rolled to avoid that, thankfully. Bad weather can also cause fuel usage. Once bombs are released, it’s only 1 Fuel Unit per Zone. The fuel in the auxiliary tanks unfortunately cannot be sucked dry immediately; the game only lets you use 1 Fuel from those tanks each time you have to use Fuel. So if I had to use up 4 Fuel, only one could come from the auxiliary tank, while the other 3 have to come from our main, wing tanks.

We have Good Weather in Zones 1 and 2, which is great. Our Navigation rolls don’t start out too well, with us getting an inaccurate reading thanks to our novice Navigator – but none of us are vets, so it’s to be expected. I climb the plane to MED altitude in Zone 2, so we lose not just 2, but 4 Fuel Units.

I rolled an ‘Accurate Reading’ on Pilotage, but that calls for a secondary roll, which is affected by the Navigator’s experience; with less than seven missions, there’s a -1 to this secondary roll, and I got a 2; a 1 result is an inaccurate reading, so there you go.

Fortunately, we get good Dead Reckoning and Radio Navigation results, so we’re barely able to stay on course this time. We do better in Zone 2, where the Good weather holds up and we putter right along. Slipping into Zone 3, where our Formation rendezvous is, we still conduct Nav checks, and this works out, though the weather slips to Poor.

We conduct our Formation Assembly check, and fortunately, we find the other bombers, coming from all over the Marianas Islands. No exciting events occur (thankfully), and since we have no fighter escorts, we don’t have any little buddies to look for either. We press on.



We continue to have Good weather as we truck along through Zones 4 and 5. The real fun begins when we get over Zone 6, which is where Iwo Jima lies. Will the Japs send some fighters up to face us? Or will we get to cruise by? Will they instead wait for us to come back?

Those questions and more bother me, as Iwo Jima appears on the horizon.

The rolls to determine fighter resistance actually seem to discourage interception. One must roll first on a Fighter Resistance table, which will net None, Light, Moderate, or Heavy. Once determined, another roll is made to determine if fighters actually attack the player’s bomber. Obviously, the heavier the resistance, the better chance of this happening…

None of the crew call out fighters, and the chatter on the open radio net is limited; apparently the Japs refuse to come up to meet us. For now, anyway. We can therefore continue unmolested.



Despite the concerns in the B-29s far above, Flying Warrant Officer (飛行兵曹長) W8taminute-san seethes in frustration far below. They can easily see the contrails of the high-flying bombers far ahead, but can only watch in impotence as they bring their payloads of death to his homeland, his family. He can only pray they avoid his hometown of Nagasaki…for now, their squadron is grounded due to lack of fuel. Hopefully, more comes in soon.

As we continue, leaving that hunk of coral in the distance, we move through Zone 7, where we experience more Poor weather, but nothing terrible. The weather then clears up and it looks like it’s going to be clear sailing all the way to Japan.

Indeed, it is. The formation encounters no issues along the way.

Indeed, the B-29s were so buggy that one must roll for a Random Event in each Zone their bomber enters. On a roll of boxcars (12), a Random Event occurs. This could be good…or bad. So far in this game, though, so good.

Soon, the coast of Japan is visible through the front windows; the jagged, mountainous terrain is foreboding, but we’ve been constantly told how easy it will be to bomb them – it’s small, so we can get in, drop the payload, then get out before the Japanese even knew what hit them. They say their radar is leagues behind ours and the only warning they get is when they spot us with their eyeballs. Hopefully, they don’t see us coming. Our target is one zone inland, and we have to check for fighter resistance in each of the next two Zones.



In Zone 10, we are still blessed (cursed?) with Good weather, and no random craziness occurs yet either, thank goodness. We’re virtually on the end of our tethers way out here and some of the first bombers to regularly see Japan now…what should we expect? What will it be like?

The Fighter Resistance here is Moderate. Despite a -2 penalty to this check, which reduces resistance chances, we still get ‘Moderate.’ So, fighters DO come up to check us out, and as we watch eagerly, we see flashes of gunfire and wings in the sun in the distance along the edges of the formation. No Japanese plane penetrates into our part of it, though, and our gunners, eager to get some shots off, are somewhat disappointed yet relieved nothing comes at us.

We still have one Zone to go to get to the target, though…and finally, we get there.

The ‘Good’ weather we’ve been blessed with so far has made me think we’re going to have a perfect view of the aircraft factories we’re supposed to target. So of course that means, when we get over the target, it is ‘Completely Obscured’ thanks to a really lousy roll of the dice.



Yep, nothing but friggin’ clouds out there. So we’ll just have to wing it.

As the target is completely obscured, screwing our chances of a good bomb run, so too are the Jap AA batteries below not going to get a good shot in at us. They try, regardless. The flak is ‘Light’ but several get close enough to shake our molars in our skulls. No holes in the plane, though, and we get close to our release point.

It’s all in 1/LT Nefaro’s hands now, our Bombadier…though I feel for him, because it sucks that there’s no way we can see the target. He releases the bombs, and we feel Miss Punctuality get noticeably lighter as she shudders and wants to suddenly rise, so we fight the controls to make sure she stays on course.

Of course, we’re ‘Off Target,’ but I expected that. Worse, we’re at 0% Accuracy, but I thought that might happen, too. The mission is a bust, but at least it counts towards our tickets home.

Really, there’s not much you can do when you’re ‘Off Target.’ Pretty much only a 2 or 12 on 2d6 will net you results, and even then, it’s a pittance.

The formation turns over Nagoya, the clouds mute testimony to the heavy bombs that just slipped through them like hot knives through butter. We have to check for fighter attacks again, this time getting a ‘Light’ result, and yet again, no Jap fighters head into our part of the formation. We keep a strained eye out, though. We pass through Zone 10 with another ‘Light’ result, and again we get lucky (or unlucky, as our gunners now must feel), for no Japs appear then either.

I remind them there’s still Iwo Jima to worry about, and that seems to cheer them up a little.

The weather is Good (of course, where were you a couple of Zones ago?) as we slide through Zone 9. We are now officially at 1/2 fuel remaining – all the fuel from the auxiliary tanks is gone, though we do not drop those unless it’s an emergency – they’re reusable, after all.

We enter Zone 8, expecting more Good weather, but instead, I see a towering, massive line of thunderstorms ahead.



I rolled a ‘12’ for Weather, so that’s Bad (more like, BAD) Weather. Studying the storms, both JasonPratt and I converse, and we decide to spend the extra Fuel unit to try to find a better way around the storm. As we are still in Formation, that doesn’t make sense unless I missed something. Maybe we don’t move all that far off course.

We enter the angry, dark clouds, which seem to be behaving themselves. I tell the crew to keep sharp eyes out for the other planes in the formation, because we don’t want to ru-

BOOM



HOLY SH*T

Sparks dance across our instrument panels.

“BREAK RIGHT!”

The looming form of another B-29, panicked from the lightning strike so close its hit our planes, fills the left side of my view; I struggle to pull the plane off to the right as the instruments go haywire. Finally the guy to our left levels off, and I curse at him. I see a wave from the cockpit of his bird, almost apologetic. I look right, but JasonPratt says we’re clear.

“Losing fuel,” says M/SGT Barthheart.

I look back at the instruments. The storm result roll only does superficial damage to the cockpit instruments – thank goodness, as that could have been bad! They still work and seem to be reporting correctly. The formation is all shot to hell now, though.

Wait, fuel loss…?!?

M/SGT Barthheart reports our inboard tank has sprung a leak, thanks to the weather. Great…so maybe we’re going to lose all our fuel out here? I can’t panic…gotta keep it together. Before I can even ask our Flight Engineer what the deal is, he reports he’s already transferred fuel so we don’t actually lose any Fuel Units. Way to go, M/SGT. One less worry.

Since the storm was really bad, the formation was disrupted, which means we get a +1 to fighter attack rolls from this point forward. Since Iwo Jima is the only remaining source of possible fighter attack, that’s where it will get interesting.

The next Zone, 7, has Bad weather as well, but fortunately I roll better and we manage to make it through safely without incident.

That’s good, because I think I need to change my long johns when we get home.

We then come up on Iwo Jima again, and it remains a tiny speck far below. The result is ‘Light’ resistance when checking for Jap fighters, but once again, none of them reach us here in the formation, and their efforts seem half-hearted at best, as if they’re testing our defenses.

As Iwo Jima slips away behind us, we’re in the home stretch now, and we enter Zones 5 and 4 with no problems and Good weather in both cases. Our fuel is dwindling, but we have plenty to make it home, unless we REALLY tank our Navigation Checks in Zones 3, 2, and 1…

In Zone 3, the formation breaks apart as each B-29 heads for its own base in the Marianas Islands. Ours is Tinian of course, and we head that way, but now we’re on our own for navigation.

The weather in Zone 3 is Poor, but we still get excellent rolls and stay on course; so too for Zones 2 and 1, as we get closer to Tinian. And finally, the island itself comes into view, we contact the tower to get instructions, and we’re very, very happy to see our base loom in through the front windows.



Mission Accomplished.
Result: 0%, Off Target
Better luck next time, boys…


« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 06:48:23 PM by Banzai_Cat »

Offline bob48

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Re: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2014, 11:50:07 AM »
I was actually gripping the edge of my chair reading that.
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Offline Barthheart

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Re: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2014, 12:04:25 PM »
Great read! You need better weather dice however....  :P

Offline undercovergeek

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Re: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2014, 12:10:28 PM »
Awesome BC

Glad to see the radar worked perfectly  ;)

Offline bob48

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Re: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2014, 12:52:37 PM »
Only after i showed you where the on/off switch was.

...here, have a pickled onion.
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Offline mirth

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Re: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2014, 01:10:24 PM »
Man that Navigator sucks! Who is that idiot?

Oh wait...nevermind :P
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Offline W8taminute

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Re: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2014, 03:11:07 PM »
Nice read Banzai!  There were plenty of tense moments throughout that AAR from the moment of takeoff through to the storm on the way home.
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Offline Staggerwing

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Re: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2014, 07:16:46 PM »
Very exciting!  O0

When do we get to the mission where I get to shoot down W8t?  :))

(Sorry man, Love&War, y'know how it goes)
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Online Con

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Re: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2014, 09:49:22 PM »
Are those images from the game or some other source?  They do make it very immersive

Con

Offline bob48

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Re: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2014, 05:34:44 AM »
Are those images from the game or some other source?  They do make it very immersive

Con

^Absolutely - my thought as well.
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Offline Staggerwing

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Re: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2014, 05:38:23 AM »
Are those images from the game or some other source?  They do make it very immersive

Con

I think those pics are examples of BC's superb 'shop skills, each pic hand crafted for your enjoyment.
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Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2014, 07:45:26 AM »
Yep! All images you see are Photoshopped. I just grabbed a variety of pics from different bomber positions as best I could and took out the view from the window and replaced it with other bits to illustrate the narrative. The cockpit was a pain, to remove each and every pane of glass, but ultimately I thought it would look cool so it was a labor of love.

Offline W8taminute

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Re: B-29 Superfortress: Bombers Over Japan, 1944-1945 (Mission Logs)
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2014, 08:14:54 AM »
Very exciting!  O0

When do we get to the mission where I get to shoot down W8t?  :))

(Sorry man, Love&War, y'know how it goes)

Well if I have to get shot down I hope it's by you Stagger!   O0
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