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Design & Development Cost Comparison “B-29 Superfortress to Manhattan

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2012/03/31 17:54:30 (permalink)

Design & Development Cost Comparison “B-29 Superfortress to Manhattan

As I have perhaps bored most forum members to tears with my nuke posts; this comparison will start with the “Super” and end with Manhattan as the “Super” may be of more interest. As fond of the nuclear development program as I am; I am even more astounded by the development of the “Super” possibly one of the most elegant, efficient and formidable bomber aircraft of the era, a truly remarkable concept far ahead of its time. The fruition of this project was a result of the foresight of Boeing seeing the world status; continuing design and development with an R&D effort without Government support in the initial stages of development. “Dedicated to Boeing and all those who made this possible”.  
B-29 design and Development Prototype designation XB-15 leading to Boeing XB-29 [Design and Development cost $3 billion] initial design work started in 1938, Cost per aircraft built: US$639,188 ($9.09 million in today's dollars) Knaack 1988, p. 486 Total Aircraft built 3,970 - Produced: 1943–1946
Combined aircraft development and manufacturing cost: $5,537,576,360, includes aircraft produced to 1946

Details of Development  
The development of the B-29 can be traced to Project A, from a 1934 Army feasibility study for a bomber that could carry one ton of bombs 5,000 miles. This was an ambitious goal for an air force whose largest bombers at that time were two-engine models. In June of that year, Boeing presented the Army with the Boeing Model 294. The Army liked the design, and eventually designated it the XB-15. The single prototype dwarfed anything on active duty at the time; its empty weight was only 13 percent less than that of the B-29. The B-29 shows remarkable resemblance with the German Messerschmitt Me 264 Amerika developed one year earlier.
In August 1934, Boeing also began work on a slightly less ambitious design, the Model 299. This design became the B-17 Flying Fortress. In 1938, Boeing agreed to do a design study on a more advanced development of the B-17, the Model 322, which would feature a pressurized cabin. However, the project was deemed infeasible and abandoned.
In March 1936, a team lead by Lysle Wood began work on an updated XB-15, the Model 316. This plane featured the all-glass nose that would make the B-29 distinctive. Designated the Y1B-20, it was 17 percent heavier than the eventual B-29. The Army was not interested. Boeing continued heavy bomber development in 1938 and 1939 with Models 330, 333, 333A, 333B, 334, and 334A. In August 1939 they began work on the Model 341, featuring a much improved wing: the Boeing Model 115 airfoil.
Around 1938, General Henry H. 'Hap' Arnold, the head of the Army Air Corps, was growing alarmed at the possibility of war in Europe and in the Pacific. To prepare the Air Corps, Arnold created a special committee chaired by Brigadier General W. G. Kilner; one of its members was Charles Lindbergh. After a tour of Luftwaffe bases, Lindbergh became convinced that Nazi Germany was far ahead of other European nations. In a 1939 report, the committee made a number of recommendations, including development of new long-range heavy bombers.
When war broke out in Europe, Arnold requested design studies from several companies on a Very Long-Range bomber capable of travelling 5,000 miles (8,000 km). Part of Arnold's motivation for these studies was the fear that Britain might fall to the Nazis. In that event, it would be imperative that the Army Air Force have a bomber capable of flying round-trip from the U.S. East Coast to Europe to strike targets on the European mainland. Approval was granted on December 2. This request, R-40B, fitted perfectly with the research Boeing was doing at the time.
In January 1940, the B-17 was entering service and the somewhat larger Consolidated B-24 was still more than a year away. At this time, the Air Corps issued a request for proposals for a much larger bomber, which was to have the range for operation over the Pacific; this bomber would serve in the inevitable war with Japan. Four firms submitted design studies: the Boeing XB-29, Lockheed XB-30, Douglas XB-31, and Consolidated XB-32. Douglas and Lockheed soon withdrew, in part because Boeing was well ahead of them in the design process. In 1940, September, Boeing and Consolidated were awarded development contracts for the XB-29 and the XB-32, respectively.
In early 1940, the Army Air Corps analyzed the performance of bombers used in Europe against the Luftwaffe, and requested that the B-29 have self-sealing fuel tanks, more machine guns, and higher-caliber guns. Boeing incorporated these into a redesign of the Model 341, and resubmitted it to the Army Air Corps as Model 345, which would become the XB-29. Impressed by the mock-up completed in the spring 1941, the Army Air Corps had placed a massive order for 1,500 B-29s, a year before the prototype would fly for the first time on September 21, 1942. A long-range bomber was urgently needed, so service testing proceeded largely in tandem with production. The first B-29 rolled off the assembly line two months after the first service test flight. In under a year, the B-29 was in full-scale production.
The B-29 was a giant airplane, nearly twice as heavy as the heaviest previously serving bomber. Mid-set wings with a high aspect ratio gave it exceptional range. To reduce the dangerously high landing speed of the B-29, it was fitted with enormous Fowler flaps. It had three separate pressurized crew compartments: one in the nose, a second aft of the wing for the gunners, and an isolated compartment for the tail gunner. Rather than the traditional bulky manned gun turrets, Boeing used small, remote-control units 'networked' together with an analog computer that compensated for factors such as air temperature and bullet drop. This system was very difficult to develop, but it proved effective. There are several accounts of 'healthy' B-29s peeling out of formation to drive off successfully fighters preying on damaged brethren.
References and links of interest: 

Although other cost analyses have stated the Super was $3 billion vs. Manhattan at $2 billion
this is true. The eye opener below and must be understood is the $20 billion reflects 1996 dollars at the time of the reports commissioning. The actual war time expenditure is shown left of the 1996 equivalent in the break down of costs by site and sub-project.  

The Costs of the Manhattan Project
Expenditures through August 1945:*

*Includes costs from 1940-42 for the National Defense Research Council and the Office of Scientific Research and Development. Excludes $76 million spent by the Army Air Forces on Project SILVERPLATE from September 1943 through September 1945 (Project SILVERPLATE covered the modification of 46 B-29 bombers in support of the Manhattan Project, trained the personnel of the 509th composite bombing group, and provided logistical support for units based at Tinian Island, launching point for the attacks on Japan).
$20 billion

Average cost per atomic device/bomb:
$5 billion

Where Did The Money Go?
(Estimated cumulative costs through December 31, 1945)
Site/Project Then-year Dollars Constant 1996 Dollars
OAK RIDGE (Total) $1,188,352,000 $13,565,662,000
—K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant $512,166,000 $5,846,644,000
—Y-12 Electromagnetic Plant $477,631,000 $5,452,409,000
—Clinton Engineer Works, HQ and central utilities $155,951,000 $1,780,263,000
—Clinton Laboratories $26,932,000 $307,443,000
—S-50 Thermal Diffusion Plant $15,672,000 $178,904,000
HANFORD ENGINEER WORKS $390,124,000 $4,453,470,000
SPECIAL OPERATING MATERIALS $103,369,000 $1,180,011,000
LOS ALAMOS PROJECT $74,055,000 $845,377,000
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT $69,681,000 $795,445,000
GOVERNMENT OVERHEAD $37,255,000 $425,285,000
HEAVY WATER PLANTS1 $26,768,000 $305,571,000
Grand Total $1,889,604,000 $21,570,821,000
Sources: Richard G. Hewlett and Oscar E. Anderson, Jr., The New World: A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, Volume 1, 1939/1946 (Oak Ridge, Tennessee: U.S. AEC Technical Information Center, 1972), pp. 723-724. Includes capital and operations costs from 1942 through 1945. Costs adjusted using a base year of 1944 (the year of highest Manhattan Project expenditures). Actual costs per facility per year are apparently unknown.

References: The Brookings Institution, “Manhattan The Army and the Atomic bomb”, by Vincent C. Jones: Center of Military History United states Army
Document attachments: [1] Manhattan Military Personnel Requirements 1943 [2] Manhattan cost pie chart [3] Oak Ridge cost pie chart
Scott M.
post edited by 25Kingman49 - 2012/03/31 21:01:45

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