Boeing’s Superfortress, the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb, was hailed a machine so fast the enemy would see but “a silver gnat and a vapor trail” against the skies. By silhouette the B-29 resembled the B-17 bomber, but it could carry more bombs greater distances, and fly faster than any other bomber.
Eddie Allen, a world-renowned test pilot, sat at the controls of its first two prototypes. During an experimental flight of the number 2 Superfortress in 1943, fire erupted twice and eventually overtook the pilot’s cabin. The plane narrowly missed skyscrapers and struck the fifth floor of the Frye meatpacking plant in Seattle while employees were away at lunch. About 30 people died.