The most advanced bomber produced during the Second World War, the B-29 made a vital contribution to the defeat of Japan. It carried the atomic bombs which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 killing 115,000 people instantly, while many others died subsequently of wounds and radiation sickness. Japan surrendered on 14 August, 5 days after the attack on Nagasaki.
In 1938 Boeing began to design its replacement. The B-29 project was given a high priority, as it was the only bomber with sufficient range to attack Japan from US bases. It proved to be an outstanding aircraft with many advanced features including a partly pressurised fuselage and remote controlled gun turrets. After the capture of the Marianas Islands, B-29s of the 20th Air Force launched a strategic bombing campaign on the Japanese home islands. Initial high level attacks in daylight produced disappointing results and heavy losses, so low level attacks using incendiaries by night were substituted. In early 1945 these raids completely destroyed the centres of several large Japanese cities, including Tokyo. By VJ Day nearly 4,000 B-29s had been completed in the largest and most complex aircraft production programme of the Second World War.