Thursday, July 21, 2011

FlyPast 2009-08

Members of the Commemorative Air Force's B-29/B-24 Squadron have hung the first of four new engines on Boeing B-29 Superfortress N529N Fifi at Midland, Texas. In April, the unit arrived on site after a long haul from Anderson Aeromotive in Grangeville, Indiana and volunteers worked throughout May to prepare it for installation. Now that it has been put into place, the crew will begin working to connect it up and get it ready to run. The B-29 was originally fitted with Wright R-3350-57AM Duplex Cyclones, which had a less-than-desirable reputation. Fifi has experienced numerous problems with her engines in the 30-plus years she has been flying with the CAF. Following the discovery of metal shavings in the oil, the decision was made to not fly the bomber again until it could be fitted with powerplants that are a custom built combination of the R-3350-95Ws and -26WDs. The refit will also require reworking the mounts and some of the cowling, making it a lengthy undertaking. "We have achieved a great milestone in the life of Fifi," said CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron Crew Chief, Dave Miller. "The arrival and 'hanging' of the first engine is tangible evidence that the B-29 will be back in the air soon. The re-engine project is moving forward very well and we hope to have Fifi back in the air in 2010." The installation process will be repeated with the three remaining units as they are completed by Anderson Aeromotive and Ezell Aviation. Once all new motors are installed and tested, the Superfortress will be back in the air.