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U.S. NAVY BASES IN BRAZIL - U.S NAVY BASES

22)B-29 AT PARNAMIRIM FIELD


The first landing of the new B-29 Super Fortress at Parnamirim was made by  BUNO 26235 at 1918Z on 25 May 1944, proceeding from Atkinsons Field British Guyana. The aircraft was waited for so long for the USAAF Base garrison Unit 1152 at Parnamirim Field. It was just a matter of time, once all the cargo and personnel movement of the 20th Bombing Group was landing regularly at Natal destined to  Indiain the ATC planes and so no one kept the secret of the arrival of the new super bomber.


When the word came for the arrival of the B-29, it was referred to as VHB (Very Heavy Bombers) but some secrecy was kept on the subject. But it was to no avail, when one big plane was seen roaring over the base and maneuvering for the landing. It was finally the B-29. Upon the touchdown of 26235 what ensued was a swarm of the whole ramp personnel toward the parking despite one isolating fence that circled the big machine to keep the curious 70 feet from the plane. Despite all preparations to receive the planes, transiting for Natal was not devoided of logistical problems.


Until the Japanese surrender on Aug 1945, some B-29 with malfunctions requiring overhaul, and others restricted to fly combat missions (war weary), returned home, viaNatal, thus contributing to increase the already intense homeward bound traffic especially from the European bases during June and July 1945. Thus, Parnamirim Field was until the very end of the war that gigantic hub that was coined as the Trampoline of the Victory.



One B-29 seen parked at Parnamirim ramp. More than 200 used that base to reach their final destination at the Pacific and China.


The already known precautionary safety measures regarding the long hop to África, was aggravated by the lack of technical  knowledgement on the aircraft and its characteristics by the maintenance echelons and also by the inexperience by the crew. It was a common fact that the pilots would fly  4.000 miles nonstop to Natal and arrive without an average calculation on the fuel consumption. In the beginning the pilots had several doubts, even those specific on the total fuel capacity of those airplanes.


Airplane performance charts said that the wing tanks could take 5604 gallons but some pilots argued that they could get only 5400. Initial fuel consumption was another controversial point once some affirmed that the engines would burn no less than 1000 gallons per hour. Others would stick to 700, 800, etc. That was a common chit chat below the wings just before departure. 3 out of the 220 B-29 that crossed the Atlantic to Africa and Far East were lost. Except one take off accident, two other B-29 were lost failed to reach the other side of the “lake” both for fuel starvation.


One of them ditched some miles off African coast having the crew been rescued unscathed. The other when estimated 02:30 of its destination, Accra, informed he was short of fuel and elected to proceed to Roberts Field, Liberia. One hour later, the Roberts Field radio received one request for the weather from the part of the plane as well as the light up for runway lights. It was the last contact between the plane and ground controllers. B-29 5203 vanished without traces and no news was ever heard from.



Ramp at Parnamirim occupied by several B 29 early in 1945. Those aircrafts flew from US across the South Atlantic to African bases and from there crossed the continent to India and finally to their final destinations. Saipan, Tinian Guam to be loaded with incendiary bombs bound for Japan.


 

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