Washington Times


The B-29 in RAF Service

For a few years while it awaited development of jet bombers, the RAF operated the legendary B-29 Superfortress. Doug Gordon provides an overview of the Boeing Washington’s service with the RAF

Resplendent in its highly polished natural metal finish is Washington, WF562, at the Coronation Review at RAF Odiham, in July 1953
F/O D W Baldock RAFVR via author

In the months and years following the end of World War Two, the air forces of the United Kingdom and the United States were allowed to run down. After the struggle against the Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan, the end of the war had brought even the victors to the point of exhaustion. The peace dividend on offer in 1945 promised the opportunity and security to look forward to rebuilding each nation's social and economic structures free from conflict. Europe was a devastated continent and in need of a respite.

However, in a very short period it became apparent that there was no time to relax or for complacency. The belligerence of the erstwhile ally, the Soviet Union, grew during the post-war years and this culminated in three events that left no doubt about the long-term aims of the Communist regime in Moscow. In 1948, the Soviet Union blockaded the city of Berlin, denying the Western Allies access to the city. The Allied response was the Berlin Airlift. Eventually, the Soviets backed down, although in 1949 they tested their first atomic bomb, rather earlier than the United States had anticipated. In the face of such aggression and sabre-rattling, the Western Allies came together and, in April 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty was signed and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) was born. Twelve countries were initial signatories to this mutual defence treaty, which stated that an attack by a third party on any one member would be considered an attack on all.

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