Big Stink (aircraft)

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Big Stink
Other name(s) Dave's Dream
Type Boeing B-29-40-MO Superfortress
Manufacturer Glenn L. Martin Company at Omaha, Nebraska
Serial 44-27354
Owners and operators United States Army Air Forces
In service April 20, 1945
Fate Struck off charge and allocated for salvage from February 1960

Big Stink was the name of a Boeing B-29-40-MO Superfortress bomber (Victor number 90) that participated in the atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945. Assigned to the 393d Bomb Squadron, 509th Composite Group, it was used as a camera plane in support of the bomb-carrying Bockscar, to photograph the explosion and effects of the bomb, and also to carry scientific observers. The mission was flown by crew C-14 but with Group Operations Officer Major James I. Hopkins, Jr., as the aircraft commander.

Victor 90 left without one of the support members when Major Hopkins ordered Dr. Robert Serber of Project Alberta to leave the plane because the scientist had forgotten his parachute, reportedly after the B-29 had already taxied onto the runway. Since Serber was the only crew member who knew how to operate the high-speed camera, Hopkins had to be instructed by radio from Tinian on its use.

The aircraft failed to make its rendezvous with the remainder of the strike flight, which completed the mission without it. It did however arrive at Nagasaki in time to photograph the effects of the blast albeit at 39,000 ft rather than the planned 30,000 ft, then recovered at Yontan Airfield, Okinawa with both Bockscar and The Great Artiste.

History[edit]

B-29-40-MO 44-27354 was built at the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Plant at Omaha, Nebraska, Big Stink was accepted by the Army Air Forces on April 20, 1945, and flown to Wendover Army Air Field, Utah, by its assigned crew A-5 (Lt.Col. Thomas J. Classen, Aircraft Commander and group deputy commander) in May. It departed Wendover for North Field, Tinian on June 19 and arrived on June 24.

It was originally assigned the Victor (unit-assigned identification) number 10 but on August 1 was given the circle R tail markings of the 6th Bomb Group as a security measure and had its Victor changed to 90 to avoid misidentification with actual 6th BG aircraft. On July 23, 1945, with Col. Paul Tibbets at the controls, it dropped a dummy Little Boy bomb assembly off Tinian to test its radar altimeter detonators.

On August 6, 1945, Big Stink was flown by crew B-8 (1st Lt. Charles McKnight) as a back-up spare but landed on Iwo Jima when all other aircraft in the flight continued on. The airplane was reassigned to crew C-12 (Capt. Herman S. Zahn) immediately following the Nagasaki mission, who named the airplane and had nose art applied.

Big Stink also flew 12 training and practice missions, and two combat missions to drop pumpkin bombs on industrial targets at Nagaoka and Hitachi, both flown by Classen and crew A-5. Big Stink was flown by more crews (9 of the 15) on operational missions than any other 393d BS B-29.

After World War II it served with the 509th CG at Roswell Army Air Field. In April 1946 it was assigned to Operation Crossroads, and renamed Dave's Dream by its crew in honor of Captain David Semple, a bombardier who had been killed in the crash of another B-29 on March 7, 1946, near Albuquerque, New Mexico. Semple had been a bombardier in many of the 155 test drops for the Manhattan Project. On July 1, 1946, Dave's Dream dropped the Fat Man-type atomic bomb used in Test Able of Operation Crossroads at Bikini Atoll.

In June 1949 Dave's Dream was transferred to the 97th Bomb Group at Biggs Air Force Base, Texas. It was converted to a TB-29 training aircraft in April 1950 by the Oklahoma City Materiel Area at Tinker Air Force Base.

It was subsequently assigned to:

In June 1959 it was moved into storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, and was dropped from the Air Force inventory in February 1960 as salvage.

Nagasaki mission crew[edit]

Crew C-14 (normally assigned to Necessary Evil; 1st Lt. Norman Ray)

  • Major James I. Hopkins, Jr., Aircraft Commander
  • 2nd Lt. John E. Cantlon, Co-Pilot
  • 2nd Lt. Stanley G. Steinke, Navigator
  • 2nd Lt. Myron Faryna, Bombardier
  • M/Sgt. George L. Brabenec, Flight Engineer
  • Sgt. Francis X. Dolan, Radio Operator
  • Cpl. Richard F. Cannon, Radar Operator
  • Sgt. Martin G. Murray, Tail Gunner
  • Sgt. Thomas A. Bunting, Assistant Engineer/Scanner
  • Cpl. Sidney J. Bellamy, Radar Observer

The crew were joined by two British observers:[1]

Other aircraft named Big Stink[edit]

A FB-111A strategic bomber of the USAF 509th Bomb Wing, serial 67-7195, carried both the name and original nose art of Big Stink and the name Dave's Dream on its nosewheel doors while based at Pease Air Force Base, New Hampshire, in the 1970s and 1980s.

References[edit]

External links[edit]