Boeing B-29 Superfortress Flight Engineer -1944

yes here’s the b-29 your Superfortress and those are it’s for right 3350 engines this is the sound of 8800 horsepower yes 8800 horsepower that’s what they’ll give you if this man this b-29 flight engineer knows his job the ground crew maintains the engines keeps them in condition to deliver their tremendous power but once in the air it’s up to the flight engineer to get that power from them it is he who must be able to interpret these instruments and adjust these engine controls so that the pilot gets exactly the power he wants and gets it economically but the flight engineers job is more than just flying it begins on the ground right here with the other members of the flight crew as they inspect their b-29 before a simulated operational flight each man has work to do before the airplane moves off the parking apron for example here’s the top gunner preparing his twin 50s for action while the ground crew is servicing the airplane topping off the gas tanks getting the fire extinguishers in place for engine starting and here are the pilot and co-pilot completing their last check before takeoff but this is the man we’re interested in the flight engineer last trip there was trouble with the wastegate on number three outboard turbo sure it’s been fixed but just the same the flight engineer is the one who’s finally responsible so he checks for himself yes if you’re part of a b-29 crew you have to know your job but that’s not enough you’ve got to know the other fellows job to not just theoretically but well enough to substitute on no notice at all today for example the pilot is decided to check out lieutenant Addison ordinarily the copilot as a flight engineer as you lieutenant you’ve been warned about this now let’s see how well you’ve prepared yourself first of all mr. flight engineer better get started on the bookkeeping well flight engineer for a day that’s me looks like I’ve got all the dope right here in his clipboard forms 1 1 a form if the flight engineers Log I guess they’ll tell me everything I’ll need to know one thing you should pay particular attention to is the CG center of gravity it’s 26 percent of the MA see which is about right for this loading now they’re ready to pull the engines through no let Anderson do it he’s flight engineer today remember okay now let’s see what’s the first thing I do hmm well if those engines are going to be pulled through I’d better climb inside and take a look at the ignition switches they’re off so it’s okay for the men to go ahead in those engines oh and while I’m here I better check the dome in the governor pad sometimes they spring oil leaks this one seems to be okay but there are three more engines to take care of after the last engine is pulled through I well what does come next oh sure sure the Putt Putt can’t operate without that a tail gunner is already going over the generator check

the oil of course and then make sure the emergency switch is set at normal that’s right now it’s ready to deliver those 200 amps whenever you need them as long as I’m back here in this part of the ship anyway might as well check the tool kits there they are underneath the top turret the seals are unbroken so that’s all right everything else okay in here next there’s the cabin pressure regulators up in the gun control compartment see that the lock is off that means the regulator is in the automatic position gotta check the lock on the other regulator too now better take a look at the emergency cabin pressure release valve this one has to be closed and see there’s no loose equipment there to clog it and that’s about all there is to check back here oh but one sure thing I better take a look at the equipment in the bomb bay ok portable emergency motor and flap operating position right where it belongs turbo superchargers our next test hood for security take a look at the wastegate axle should have plenty of play and no ballooning in the nozzle box this is the last of the turbos it’s okay – everything else seems to be in good shape what’s next oh yeah fire extinguisher in the right place all right fall in for inspection so get into your flying equipment Anderson flight coveralls parachute gloves boots and don’t forget your pistol and oxygen mask the crew of a b-29 must be inspected before every flight just like the airplane itself the pilots going to ask a lot of these men in the next dozen hours so we make sure that every man is physically able and properly equipped to perform his duties and that means a careful painstaking inspection not just a quick check only when the pilot is satisfied that his crew will function at top efficiency he orders them into the plane that’s right lieutenant the b-29 is big but it’s still crowded inside so carry in your flight equipment you can put it all back on again later as far as your new job all you have to do is well come on what comes first what’s the matter with me what am I going to check list for uh-huh battery switch battery switch on next is master ignition switch hmm over there master ignition switch ON oxygen equipment that’s right well mask looks okay so plug it in the regulator who left that automix off that sure would waste oxygen pressures 425 which is correct and the emergency valve works the blinker stays open so that’s that now how about the portable oxygen bottle it’s full pressures 400 the voltage regulator vent valves there next one set of regulators is alongside the navigators cabinet the valve handle ought to be up on this installation the other set is directly behind the engineers panel at the radio operators left this handle is also up just as it should be okay lieutenant that’s taken care of now go on from there wait and see gee emergency motor okay okay cabin pressure relief valve turned all the way to high-pressure position right better plug into the Interphone circuit headset jack No oh it goes in the other socket okay now the mic into this one a co-pilot want you to get the putt-putt going so you use the Interphone to call the tail gunner and tell him to start the power plant here’s the proper starting procedure turn on the ignition switch and hold the generator switch in the start position move the control lever over to run and after the

putt-putt warms up for two or three minutes snap the generator switch to the run position then snap the equalizer switch on but but running so I better check the voltage selector switch set voltage 28 and now what’s on the checklist well there’s current available so I can try out my heated flying suit have to turn the rheostat off before plugging in now to get connected up just slip this one jack into the socket then twist the rheostat all the way to maximum I should begin to cook pretty soon while I’m waiting for the suit to warm up I might as well check the fluorescent lights turn it on twist the lens and there you are two more of them over on the left turn the switches on and look at the bulbs all okay the copilot has the correct barometric pressure so you can set your altimeter z’ don’t forget you’ve got two of them outside pressure zero zero one and cabin pressure the same zero zero one and you’d better check the clock on the panel with lieutenant Floyd’s chronometer watch and now I can test the controls only maybe first that mixture lock should come off mixture controls move easily enough and these throttles seem to be all right two one two three and four okay vacuum pump selector valve and the emergency cabin air valves all moving free and easy gosh it’s hot in here well why don’t you turn your wrist at off and next next comes a hydraulic system gauges should read around 1,000 but there’s only 200 problems on the normal pressure gauge now to fix that I push the hydraulic pump switch to emergency and hold it there until the pressure comes up to about 400 then release the switch it’ll go back to auto open the hydraulic shutoff valve and the pressure on each gauge should rise to a thousand it did so put the hydraulic pump switch on emergency again and see if the pressure climbs above 1000 that shows the pump will charge both systems shutoff valve back to close and then what’s next never mind never mind I know parking brakes on wheels chocked fore and aft I’m on it captain the pilot has taken care of the parking brake and he can look at the Chuck’s on the left landing gear those on the right are checked for the copilot foam one a we have so I check the figures with the gauge readings all the tanks are full and not much difference between the actual load and the gauge readings either now where’s that checklist auto sin inverter switch oh there it is 26 volts one inverters okay I have to give it a chance to stop lying before I try the other 26 volts again so it’s alright to Karl flaps oil cooler flaps intercooler flaps and the cowl flaps are first the switches are spring-loaded have to hold them in the open position until the indicator is up to the last line wide open take a look outside Adam to make sure yeah they’re open oil cooler shutters are next for each one of them in the auto position then the intercooler flaps push them to the open position and hold it until the pointers on the indicators are clear over all the way open turbo off props in high rpm the pilots telling you all right open those fuel shutoff valves that guard is to keep you from accidentally closing them now turn on

the cabin pressure warning switch and you’re ready for engine starting all right let’s get set fire extinguisher selector on number one engine crack the number one mixture control and set the fuel booster rheostat to give about 16 pounds fuel pressure then close the mixture control that knocks out your fuel pressure for now but it’ll come right back to the correct value when the engine’s going since the rheostat salsette not more than 30 minutes since the engines were pulled through that’s okay start one that’s right crack the number one throttle thousand RPM positions about right and now you’re set only let’s just take a minute to see exactly what switch is you’re going to use first the starter switches and then right alongside them the primer switches and here’s what you do pull the number one starter switch and accelerates for fifteen to thirty seconds and while you’re doing it watch the load on the parameter then turn the starter switch to start after the propeller has made two revolutions turn the magneto switch to both and Prime the engine fires move the mixture control to auto rich then release the starter switch at once but continue to prime intermittently until the engine is running smoothly don’t relax so quickly you’re not half through yet what about nose oil pressure you’re in trouble if that doesn’t hit 30 to 50 pounds within 30 seconds rear oil pressure must be 60 to 80 pounds and fuel pressure has to stay between 15 and 18 pounds okay guess I’m ready for engine number two all right I wasn’t going to forget the extinguisher well by now you ought to be an old hand at starting engines so let’s see how smoothly you can do it fire extinguisher accelerate 15 to 30 seconds and snap it to start after two revolutions magneto switched to both and Prime at 800 rpm mixture controls to auto rich you need to look so surprised that’s a new engine they just put in there maybe it’s a little bit cranky so turn off your magneto switch and start over again no-no-no you forgot to move number four mixture control back to idle cutoff take a look at that gurgle tube out there now you’ll have to blow all that excess gasoline out of the engine set the mixture control and switch off the ignition then open the throttle wide and turn the engine over twice with the starters alone now you can go ahead and start number four first give that starter a few seconds to cool off that’s done it now let’s have another look at that checklist oh just one more thing turn on the cabin air conditioning switches tonight and tell the pilot we’re ready to taxi hey not so fast lieutenant you still have to check

cylinder head temperature oil pressure and fuel pressure all normal so the pilot orders the generators on then he tells the Bombardier to close the bomb bay doors he pulls the switch and you and the Gunners check to make sure the doors do closed then it’s standby to taxi the airplane reaches the runway the engines must be checked now you can get set for takeoff first the pilot increases all throttles to 1500 rpm and checks the props to full decrease they under full increase while he’s doing that check all the generators output voltage and amperage okay so turn the generators off now that props and generators check out the pilot pulls the throttles back to 700 RPM and tells you to check the Magneto’s advance number one throttle to 2,000 rpm Magneto’s switch to right rpm should drop a little anything less than a hundred is okay then back to both and try the left Magneto fifty rpm drop again that’s alright back to both and return the number one throttle to 700 rpm go through the same procedure on all the other engines one at a time mags okay so check all instruments for proper reading now let’s have a look at that chick list sure sure oil pressure nose and rear fuel pressure oil temperature cylinder-head temperature all normal guess I’m ready to take off the pilot is ready too he releases the parking brake and adjust the engines for full military power turbo is at position eight and starts opening the throttles and here’s where you really get busy start the cowl flaps clothing turn on the fuel booster pumps switch on each of the six generators as soon as you’re up to 1,400 rpm since no power check has been made the copilot and engineer keep a close watch on rpm and manifold pressure during the first third of takeoff if there were any abnormal reading you’d have to call a pilot to cut off engines looks fine and those cowl flaps you have to keep them open as long as possible yet they must be down around seven and a half degrees before you leave the ground that’s not easy and above everything keep watching your cylinder head temperature and oil pressure of course the pilot makes sure to put the wheel brakes on before the gears are retracted as soon as you’ve got safe flying speed you can open the cowl flaps as much as ten degrees but don’t do it unless the cylinder heads are getting hot and now the pilot can reduce power he’s still climbing so he sets up condition too once the gear and wing flaps are reported up call the tail gunner to stop the putt-putt right and I can turn off the fuel booster pumps we make sure there’s no drop in fuel

pressure and there isn’t everything’s okay mmm-hmm guess we cruise here 10,000 feet yes the pilot has leveled off and is now setting up Kiersey conditions 2100 RPM and 31 inches manifold pressure that’s cruising power you can see it yourself now I get busy turbos are off so intercooler flaps ought to be closed then the mixture controls to auto lean tell the pilot and do it easy does it with those controls jiggle them a bit until they snap into the detent position and then lock them now soon during at temperature so I can close the car flaps a bit without raising the head temperatures wait a minute this is no time for the flight engineer to rest you’ve got to keep your eye on those gauges every minute so let’s check again just what you have to watch nose oil pressure 30 to 50 pounds rear oil pressure 60 to 70 pounds fuel pressure 15 to 18 pounds cylinder head temperatures not more than the maximum limit and oil temperature under 91 okay okay what’s the checklist say huh look at the generators every 30 minutes output voltage not to exceed twenty eight and the ammeter should kick over about the same amount for each generator they’re charging evenly all right that’s the six of them all okay and another thing you had to do is fill out the engineer’s log you must record percentage of power used airspeed rate-of-climb free air temperature pressure altitude cowl flaps setting every 30 minutes you must do that but most important of all is fuel consumption so now after nearly ten hours of flight you know where you stand the wing tanks are about half empty the gauges show they’re plenty enough there’s plenty of gas in the Bombay tanks though so let’s get it out to the wing tanks where it will be some use hmm all right one fuel transfer valve at rear Bombay position other at number four wing tank position then turn on the fuel transfer switches pulling these two toward me makes a pump transfer from right to left and I just watch the gauge when the needle shows that number four is full turn the switches off I don’t do it that’s fine but look what the pilot has to do to keep that wing up and that’s a dangerous condition so now move the right fuel transfer valve to the number one wing tank position and push the switches forward this time that will pump gasoline out of number four into number one when the tanks are evened up each one about 3/4 full the airplane will be balanced again then you turn all the switches off naturally tanks two and three would be filled the same way what’s the matter Oh something wrong with the number four engine seems to be running a little rough but don’t feather it as long as there’s no other indication of trouble better keep your eye on those instruments

and now your flight is almost over the pilot gives the order prepare to land and go get rid of these heavy gloves you’ve got plenty to do yeah first tell the tail gunner to start to putt button then shift the mixture controls daughter rich coming into the downwind leg of the landing pattern now I’ve got a job ahead of me yes lieutenant you have a job ahead of you a precision child because you must coordinate what you do with the pilots procedure all right first thing give the pilot the gross weight and no CG then the airplane enters the traffic pattern at an indicated airspeed of 180 miles per hour 1500 feet altitude and the downwind leg the copilot lowers the landing gear the engineer checks the output voltage and amperage on all six generators and turns on the fuel booster pumps the pilot turns the turbo-boost control all the way up to position eight it sets the props to 2400 rpm since turbos are now on the engineer must open the intercooler flaps check hydraulic pressure and set the cowl flaps to keep cylinder head temperatures between 150 and 160 degrees the copilot lowers the wing flaps 25 degrees and you keep your eye on two cylinder head temperature just before lowering the wing flaps all the way airspeed should be between 150 and 160 altitude 1000 after the flaps are down air speed should be 30 miles per hour above stalling speed check hydraulic pressure again you will need it soon and keep watching cylinder head temperature and oil pressure and now you’re almost on the ground the b-29 lands at 90 to 110 miles an hour as soon as the plane is down start the Calif labs opening when the wing flaps are up turn the generators off next fuel booster pumps off and now the cowl flap should be wide open then a final check of hydraulic pressure and last the pilot turns the turbos off and sets the props to full increase position you’re down now and that’s the end of the flight and a tough one – can’t say I’m sorry – get out of this seat not quite so fast look at it you’re not through yet the engines are still running you started them you stopped throttle back to 700 rpm after head temperatures have dropped to 190 make a complete mag test open the bomb bay doors then then mixture controls to idle cut off when the engines have stopped open all throttles wide order the auxiliary power plant stopped then turn off all the switches Magneto’s master ignition battery and inverter switch check the parking brake it shouldn’t be said until the brake drums are cool and after you’ve made sure that the wheels are chocked fore and aft you are ready for inspection yes there’s an after flight inspection to well lieutenant now you’ve got an idea of what the flight engineer has to do at least what he has to do during the flight remember how that number 4 tech ometer needle was fluctuating there wasn’t anything that you could do about it while you were flying but it meant a lot to lieutenant Floyd it meant that new engine was running rough so now he’s going to see that it’s fixed he’ll talk

it over with the crew chief and together they will track down the trouble yes they’ll both work on it the engineer could just tell the crew chief what’s wrong and forget about it until the next flight but not if he’s a good engineer those four engines are his responsibility the only way he can be sure they’re properly maintained is to check for himself his trouble may take a long time to fix eight hours isn’t too much to allow for changing the magneto but he’ll keep it the job until it’s finished that’s the kind of thing an engineer is expected to do