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Boeing B-29 Superfortress (Redux)
Here is my revised LDD model of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. My original B-29 was in need of an update to include new building techniques I have learned and developed over the years. I was never happy with the fact that the landing gear and bomb bay doors were not moveable, so I spent some time and revised the venerable bomber. Read about the redesign process below. I left out my usual information and specifications since they have already been covered in my original model. Check out my flickr page for larger pictures https://www.flickr.com/photos/118702264@N05/. The LDD model is available on my Etsy site: www.etsy.com/ca/shop/KurtsMOCs.
About this creation

The redesign and rebuilding of my B-29 Superfortress came from a desire to correct a few design issues of the original. The biggest problem was that the landing gear and bomb bay doors did not open. I took that as the point of departure for the rebuild but also an opportunity to employ new building techniques that I’ve developed or learned from others over the years.


One of the major goals of my Superfort’s redesign was to streamline and refine the lines and surfaces of the fuselage and wings. By using a mirroring building technique, I was able to use the same smooth Lego pieces on the top for the bottom. This gave the model greater cohesiveness and uniformity in its appearance.


The 141-foot wingspan of the Superfort is impressive. It was something I needed to maintain in the redesign and I wanted the profile to be smoother and stud-less. To achieve this, I needed a building system where I could attach curved bricks and plates without the wing depth exceeding the proportions of the original B-29 and incorporate retractable landing gear, extendable flaps, and moveable ailerons. Needless to say, the wings were a real challenge!


I reworked the fuselage shape and tapering to produce cleaner lines. I also took the opportunity to refine other aspects of the original design including the profile of the engine nacelles and the remotely-operated gun turrets. Watch out for those top .50 cals: They are zeroing in on you!


The underside of the fuselage is now smoother than the previous model. I used curved plates and angles bricks to complete the cylindrical fuselage shape. By mirroring the top and bottom, the circular shape is maintained. In this view, you can also see the hinge points for the bomb bay doors and the nose landing gear. The same configuration was used for the wing landing gear doors as well.


The B-29's engines had an elongated frontal profile nacelle design that was tricky to get right. Here you can see the bomb bay doors open and a full bomb load inside. The elevators on the tail planes are still operable, but are a different design than the original.


The landing gear is now completely functional and retracts fully into the fuselage and wings. It would have been easier to use smaller wheels in order to fit into the fuselage/wing but I wanted them to be as close in scale to the original as I could. I also included the rear tail bumper, used to prevent the Superfort’s tail from hitting the runway on take-off and landing.


In the previous picture, you can also see the extended Fowler flaps. In the redesign, I came up with a sliding mechanism that allows the flaps to extend and drop. Here, they are at an angle of 30 degrees. The design of the flaps needed to slide out and rotate. This complicated the internal structure of the wing.


Once I took stock of the proposed changes and looked at the Lego pieces available, it was clear that I would need some innovations to meet my design goals. I went back to my previous projects and carefully observed the designs of other Lego artists for ideas and inspiration. In the end, this redesign includes techniques from various projects. I just hope that I can pass on some of my ideas to help others!


The YB-29 was an improved XB-29, of which 14 were built for service testing in 1943. Painted olive drab, several YB-29s toured England in an effort to mislead the Nazis into thinking that the B-29s were coming to Europe. In fact, they were all intended to fight in the Pacific against Japan. As an improvement over the XB-29 prototype, the YB-29s also received the upgraded Wright R-3350-21 engines and four-bladed props. Pilots still complained about the lack of power from the Cyclones, which were a constant source of problems for the Superforts. I think a B-29 in olive drab looks pretty cool!


The USAF B-29 “Kee Bird,” part of the 46th Reconnaissance Squadron, made an emergency landing in northwest Greenland during a Cold War spying mission on February 21, 1947. The entire crew was rescued after three days in the Arctic tundra, but the aircraft was left at the landing site. It stayed there until 1994 when a privately funded mission was launched to repair and return it to the United States. Unfortunately, the recovery resulted in the destruction and loss of the airframe by fire on the ground moments before its intended departure for Thule airbase. This story is told in NOVA’s 1996 documentary “B-29: Frozen in Time.”


In order to make my mirroring build strategy work, I need to find a method to seamlessly connect bricks and plates Lego’s double-connecting pieces do not adequately align bricks and plates, as can be seen in this image, or they were too large for a project of this scale. In order to get the thinner profiles I needed, especially for the interior of the fuselage and the interior of the wings, I needed a new approach.


In my other projects, such as the CF-101B, B-47 and Caspian Sea Monster, I made compound connection pieces that would align properly mirrored bricks and plates without gaps. For the B-29, I used two different connecting elements to join the mirrored bricks of the fuselage and two different connecting elements to join the plates of the wings. Here, two 1x1 knobbed bricks are placed opposite each other and joined with a 1x2 plate. This combination is equal to five stacked plates (as illustrated by the black and white measure). I also used two four-knobbed 1x2 bricks place side-by-side but with one being upside down and joined by a 2x4 plate. By adding plates to the top and bottom, I could increase the height but I could never get less than five plates in height. This approach worked well with the fuselage interior.


The fuselage profile is composed of angled bricks and half-bowed plates. I used the reversed 1x1 knobbed assembly to mirror the fuselage profile on the top and bottom. In some instances, I used the four-knobbed assembly, especially when I needed to add additional elements to the exterior.


In this image, you can see the fuselage profile and the reversed 1x1 knobbed assemblies holding the two separate profiles in place. I considered having the sides of the fuselage curved as well but the wing attachments and windows fit better against a flat surface. It also made it easier to taper the fuselage towards the rear of the airplane.


The tapering and decreasing size of the fuselage’s diameter is accomplished using two steps. The first, pictured above, has the bottom fuselage sections stepping up one plate. The gradated yellow plates illustrate the process. This allows the fuselage to gradually taper and also provides structural rigidity by linking and overlapping the bricks and plates together. Note the reversed 1x1 knobbed assembly on the interior.


The tail of the Superfort has been revised in an attempt to make the decreasing cylindrical shapes more consistent and to improve the overall appearance. Here, you can see the gradual taper of the fuselage’s underside and the progressively smaller cross section.


The nose section of the Superfort has retractable landing gear. The mix of angled bricks and curved plates allowed me to get the cylindrical shape and also gave me the flexibility to add the front landing gear doors and the bomb bay doors. I experimented with the curved doors on my CF-101B, Avro Arrow, MiG-31, and B-47 and devised a hinge configuration that did not disrupt the curved lines of the fuselage and took up minimal space. I learned that to get the integrated appearance of the moveable pieces with the main fuselage, I had to design around the moving mechanism rather than trying to retrofit it to the design. For the redesign of the B-29, I designed the moveable parts first and then designed the fuselage and elements around them.


The wing profile for the B-29 did not permit for substantial structure. Therefore, the reversed 1x1 knobbed assembly used on the interior would have limited application here. Instead, what I needed was a low profile assembly that allowed me to attach the curved bricks and stud-less wing surfaces. The first solution was to use various combinations of angular 1x2 plates, angular 2x2 plates, and 1x2 plates to create attachment surfaces five plates minimum thickness. The second assembly attaches 1x10 plates with reverse-connected 1x2 hinge plates. The pairing the hinged assemblies, it prevents them from moving. This proved helpful in the thinner parts of the wings.


Using two assembly approaches, I laid out the internal structure for the Superfort’s wings. I had to achieve the diminishing profile as it approached the tips, leave sufficient space for the main landing gear, and provide clearance for the flaps. The advantage of the angular hinges was that different lengths of 1x plates could be used to connect many pieces together, thus increasing structural rigidity. This is combined with internal structural plates (seen on the starboard wing) and surface stud-less plates gave the wing added strength. In the picture, you can see how the flaps extend on a sliding mechanism and can rotate down once clear of the wing. The ailerons are also fully functional.


Overall, this iteration of the B-29 resolves many of my original design shortcomings concerning moving parts but it also served as a test bed for resolving many recurring construction issues experienced on my other projects. Like my B-47, I opted for a modular approach close to how the original B-29 would have been built.


Having the original B-29 model to work from was a good starting point but it also contained many design problems that needed to be revised. The biggest change, apart from greater articulation, was the refinement of the fuselage and wing profiles. I feel that this version is edging closer to resembling the real thing!


In my original version, I thought about doing a section model to show the internal construction and arrangement. This was in my mind during the redesign and building phase, so I paid more attention to the internal details than usual. The only element that was not sufficiently resolved was the tail gunner’s section. But I guess I need to have a reason to revisit the B-29 in the future!


The major design feature of my B-29 was the structure of the nose glazing. I went through several iterations before deciding on the open-structure design. During the redesign, I considered making an entirely enclosed version, but I liked the original design of the frame. I made a few adjustments to this signature element. I also revised the floor plates in order to accommodate the nose landing gear.


My original design for the Wright R-3350 Duplex Cyclone radial engine and its nacelle was rudimentary at best. Some of my more recent radial engine designs moved towards using plates instead of bricks. The B-29 has an elongated engine covering with larger air ducts below the engine. I used an eight-sided parabolic ring as the base for the engine, using 1x2 plates with holders to situate the nacelle plates. I retained the original propeller assembly.


This final image shows all three versions of my B-29 Superfortress explorations. The far left was actually my very first LDD model ever. The middle model was completed about a year after and demonstrates better proportions and details. The model on the right represents some advances in building techniques and overall general refinements. Given my interest and love of this aircraft, I am sure that I will return once again to update this venerable bomber. My heartfelt thanks to all those who have supported my work and continue to inspire and challenge me to improve and keep exploring! Thanks to Wikipedia for the information on the YB-29 and "Kee Bird."



Comments

 I made it 
  January 8, 2017
Quoting Grand Admiral Thrawn Its beautiful and I like how you put it together as well. Nice job on one of my favorite airplanes of WWII.
Thanks for your comments Grand Admiral. I'm happy to meet another Superfort fan and I'm glad you like the model.
 I like it 
  January 8, 2017
Its beautiful and I like how you put it together as well. Nice job on one of my favorite airplanes of WWII.
 I made it 
  September 19, 2016
Quoting David Roberts I think that this looks great. I like how smooth the fuselage is and the shaping of the tail fin. Thank you for sharing your techniques too!
Thanks for your positive comments David and I'm glad you like the techniques exposition as well.
 I like it 
  September 19, 2016
I think that this looks great. I like how smooth the fuselage is and the shaping of the tail fin. Thank you for sharing your techniques too!
 I made it 
  September 18, 2016
Quoting Over 4000 I bought it a few days ago, been trying to correct it to build, but I've been having several issues, would you mind taking a look at it sometime to help?
I would be glad to help. Please contact me through the Etsy email.
  September 18, 2016
I bought it a few days ago, been trying to correct it to build, but I've been having several issues, would you mind taking a look at it sometime to help?
 I made it 
  September 18, 2016
Quoting A QIEA QIEA wooow man .. what a nice work and the details really amazing .. I enjoyed reading all of them..
Thanks for the support and I'm glad you like the work!
 I like it 
  September 18, 2016
wooow man .. what a nice work and the details really amazing .. I enjoyed reading all of them..
 I made it 
  September 11, 2016
Quoting Over 4000 Thanks!
Good luck!
  September 10, 2016
Thanks!
 I made it 
  September 9, 2016
Quoting Over 4000 So are all the components able to be obtained through bricklink? Or is it using impossible colors? Also are the XB and Kee Bird included in the instructions?
I haven't sourced the pieces through bricklink but you could substitute the chromed parts for grey or white. The XB-29 and Kee Bird variants were my own explorations and not included in the file. Of course, that doesn't mean you couldn't make one yourself!
  September 9, 2016
So are all the components able to be obtained through bricklink? Or is it using impossible colors? Also are the XB and Kee Bird included in the instructions?
 I made it 
  September 4, 2016
Quoting Florida Shoooter What a beauty!! Love all the tech you used to improve your 29. The LDD cut-aways are an excellent way to show off your heavy. :)
I'm glad you like the redesign. The section cut-away helps to show the design of the interior, which is usually there in my models but often not seen.
 I like it 
  September 4, 2016
What a beauty!! Love all the tech you used to improve your 29. The LDD cut-aways are an excellent way to show off your heavy. :)
 I made it 
  September 4, 2016
Quoting Misa Nikolic This. is. Awesome! That cutaway. Those exploded views! That silvered render! The functionality. Incroyable!
Thanks for your comments Misa. I'm glad you like the model!
 I like it 
  September 3, 2016
This. is. Awesome! That cutaway. Those exploded views! That silvered render! The functionality. Incroyable!
 I made it 
  September 3, 2016
Quoting Gabor Pauler The best B-29 cockpit in the Galaxy! Very educational post, nicely written.
Best in the Galaxy?? That's pretty amazing comment! Thanks for your support and I'm glad you like model. BTW: I've borrowed several techniques from your models over the years! Now its time to give something back.
 I like it 
  September 3, 2016
The best B-29 cockpit in the Galaxy! Very educational post, nicely written.
 I made it 
  September 3, 2016
Quoting BATOH rossi as is your habit, a great example of ability and inventiveness. beautiful work.
Thanks for you comments and I'm glad you like the model!
 I like it 
  September 3, 2016
as is your habit, a great example of ability and inventiveness. beautiful work.
 I made it 
  September 3, 2016
Quoting D H Wonderful build, indeed a big improvement to an incredible final result! I really appreciated the discussions of your techniques to accomplish the various parts of the build, thanks for taking the time to put that together!
Thanks for your comments. I thought I would share some of the building techniques I've used in my aircraft models. The Superfort Redux was a test bed for most of them and I'm pleased with the results.
 I made it 
  September 3, 2016
Quoting Over 4000 *Heavy Breathing* Where is the etsy purchase?
Thanks for the support! Check out my Etsy site (KurtsMOCs). The address is listed in the introduction.
 I like it 
  September 3, 2016
Wonderful build, indeed a big improvement to an incredible final result! I really appreciated the discussions of your techniques to accomplish the various parts of the build, thanks for taking the time to put that together!
 I like it 
  September 3, 2016
*Heavy Breathing* Where is the etsy purchase?
 I made it 
  September 2, 2016
Quoting Seaman SPb Excellent work! Great improvement!
Thanks for the support! I'm glad you like the revisions.
 I like it 
  September 2, 2016
Excellent work! Great improvement!
 
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