CAF Boeing B-29 Superfortress “FIFI”
First Albuquerque Visit: 1980
The Boeing B-29 Superfortress is an American four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber designed by Boeing and flown primarily by the United States during World War II and the Korean War. Designed to replace its predecessor, the B-17 Flying Fortress, the Superfortress was a high-altitude strategic bomber that also excelled in low-altitude night incendiary bombing. The B-29 was eventually used to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war and to this day is the only aircraft ever to drop nuclear weapons during a war.
On September 6, 1961, the Confederate Air Force (CAF) was chartered as a nonprofit Texas corporation with the mission to acquire, restore, and preserve in flying condition a complete collection of combat aircraft flown by all military services of the United States. By the end of the first year, there were already nine aircraft in the CAF fleet.
In 1965, the first museum with 26,000 square feet of space was completed at old Rebel Field, in Mercedes, Texas. In 1968, the CAF move to Harlingen, Texas where they occupied three large buildings. During this time the CAF fleet continued to grow and now included several medium and heavy bombers such as the B-29, B-25, B-17 and B-24.
Beginning in 2002, the Confederate Air Force changed their name to the Commemorative Air Force in order to better reflect the actual mission of the organization. Today the CAF, headquartered at the Dallas Executive Airport in Dallas, Texas, has a fleet of more than 175 aircraft representing more than 60 different types along with planes from foreign countries and military conflicts since World War II available for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations of Americans.
The Boeing B-29 Superfortress named “ FIFI “, is one of two B-29s in the world still flying along with “Doc” and both are owned and operated by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). FIFI tours the United States and Canada every year and takes part in various air shows while offering rides.
FIFI was acquired by the CAF in the early 1970s after several CAF members found the aircraft at the U.S. Navy Proving Ground at China Lake, California where she was being used as a target. The airplane was rescued, restored, and then flew for over thirty years until 2006 when she was grounded until she completed an extensive four year restoration that included installing new custom built hybrid engines. FIFI returned to the sky in 2010 and since that time has traveled coast to coast attracting large crowds at every tour stop.
Besides air shows and displays, FIFI has appeared in several films over the years including the “Enola Gay, The Men, The Mission, and the Atomic Bomb” (1980),” Roswell” (1994), and “The Right Stuff” (1983), as a stand in for the Bell X-1’s “mothership”. FIFI was also featured in AMC series Better Call Saul season 2, episode 8, titled “Fifi”.
The CAF’s “FIFI” came to Albuquerque for installation of new avionics on March 5, 1980. The aircraft then went Phoenix for the making of the Enola Gay movie eventually returning to Albuquerque sporting a new paint job for more avionics work on March 4, 1983.
The plane is seen at Albuquerque when it was here for the avionics work. The plane has the black painted bottom to appear in the movie “The Right Stuff” in 1983.
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