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B-29 Superfortress Main

Experimental Boeing YKB-29T Superfortress,(Boeing B-29-90-BW Superfortress) 45-21734, assigned to the 421st Air Refueling Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, 1954 Returned to United States and retired to AMARC, Feb 1955.

The Boeing KB-29 was a modified Boeing B-29 Superfortress for air refueling needs by the USAF. Two primary versions were developed and produced: KB-29M and KB-29P.

The 509th and 43d Air Refueling Squadrons (Walker AFB, NM and Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ respectively) were created in 1948 to operate the KB-29M tankers. The 303d Bombardment Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB flew B-29s and KB-29s from 1951 to 1953 that provided training for strategic bombardment and air refueling operations to meet SAC's global commitments. Deployed at Sidi Slimane AB, French Morocco, Oct 5 - Nov 6, 1952.



The B-29 played an important role in developing the effective use of aerial refueling during the late 1940s. The first aircraft involved in this programme were the KB-29M tanker and B-29MR receiver. At first, a grappling system was used; the tanker would unreel its hose towards the receiving aircraft, which would grab it and reel it in. After connecting with internal fuel compartments pumping would begin. While this system was clumsy, it was often used in the late 1940s before a better system was developed. It was most notably used to refuel the Lucky Lady II during her famous circumnavigation of the globe in 1949.
As better techniques developed for refueling, some KB-29Ms were modified to use 'probe-and-drogue' systems, in which the refueling hose has a torus-shaped para-drogue attached to the end, and the receiving aircraft has a probe on its nose or wing, which the pilot manoeuvers into the drogue to link the hose.
One KB-29M, redesignated YKB-29T, was modified to have another two refueling hoses on its wingtip. It served as the prototype for the KB-50D.
The refuelling systems were developed and installed by Flight Refuelling Ltd, at Tarrant Rushton in the United Kingdom.


KB-29P tanker of 420th Air Refueling Squadron based at RAF Sculthorpe Norfolk in 1956

  • In an effort to improve on the probe-and-drogue system,Boeing developed a rigid flying boom system, which was first used on the KB-29P.
  • The boom was mounted on the aftmost end of the KB-29P, and had two small wings.
  • With these wings, the boom could be manoeuvered by the operator.
  • The flying boom system became the most common method for In-Flight Refueling and was used on KB-50s and KC-97s and also on modern tankers such as the KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender.
  • The KB-29P was operated by 420 Air Refueling Squadron based at RAF Sculthorpe Norfolk during the mid 1950s.


  • Swanborough, F.G. and Peter M. Bowers. United States Military Aircraft since 1909. London:Putnam, First edition, 1963.

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