Oklahoma airline tycoon Tom Braniff dreamed of cheaper flight crews without radio operators. Iowa radio genius Arthur Collins dreamed up automatic transmitter tuning. Washington timber magnate Bill Boeing's namesake aircraft plant lofted Deco Dreamliners christened Pan Am Clipper, Stratoliner and Flying Fortress.
These threads wove a tale of American technology in which an amazing airplane meets an incredible radio -- a story we're proud to celebrate.
Ten years ago our B-29 Radio Project began modestly, showcasing the Collins ART-13 transmitter. Then we scaled-up -- launching plans to construct a fully restored and operational radio operator position from a Boeing Superfortress. Inspired by special WWII radio operator friends and assisted by tireless volunteers we met this goal in early 2004.
“What next?” we puzzled until Thanksgiving 2011 -- when our happy alliance began with the Commemorative Air Force and “FIFI”. We honored our living WWII B-29 crew friends and the memory of those now gone, and it was important that the fruits of our volunteers' labor not languish in storage. What better outcome for operational B-29 radios than to find a permanent home in an operational Boeing Superfortress.
Our team will maintain and operate"FIFI's" restored communications area designated the Smith-Erwin Memorial Radio Position.
Jim B. Smith was the B-29 radio operator who authored the untold story of the final days of WWII, The Last Mission. Red Erwin was the B-29 radio operator awarded the Medal of Honor for choosing pain worse than death that his friends might live.
In addition to supporting “FIFI” and our squadron, our mission is to preserve the memory of these men and their stories by faithfully maintaining and operating the equipment named in their honor. By browsing these pages you join us in support of this mission and we thank you.