B-29 Radio Project

Rockwell Collins Amateur Radio Club

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Restored B-29 Radio Equipment headed to 'FiFi'

Welcome.  We are a group of volunteer radio enthusiasts mostly from the Rockwell Collins Amateur Radio Club (Cedar Rapids Chapter) and the Rockwell Collins Amateur Radio Club (Richardson Chapter) working to preserve the legacy of the Collins ART-13 / ATC Radio Transmitter by recreating an operational Radio Operator position in the B-29 bomber.  The project began in 2004 as a special exhibit for the Carl and Mary Koehler History Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  On February 19th and 20th of 2005, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, a series of events was held in Cedar Rapids, including operation of the restored radio equipment on the amateur radio bands.  The equipment was operated again in August of 2007 to celebrate 60 years of Collins Radios on Boeing Tankers.

Beyond the sporadic special events mentioned above, we have been quietly searching for the appropriate long-term home for the B-29 Radio Project equipment.  Ideally, the equipment would go into one of about fifteen remaining B-29s that are still more or less intact.  It was our desire to see the equipment maintained and operated periodically by radio enthusiasts located conveniently close to whichever B-29 was finally selected.  Happily, as of December of 2011, this search has reached agreement in principle for the equipment to be made available to FiFi, the sole remaining B-29 in airworthy condition.  FiFi, based in Addison, Texas, is conveniently located to the Richardson chapter of the Collins Amateur Radio Club, where the membership is already working on the effort.  If all works out, the radios will be operated on the amateur radio bands on the ground and also during routine flight operations of FiFi.

Although the clubs mentioned above were responsible for spearheading this project, the impact of time and material contributions from Mike Hanz of Virginia and Steve Williams of Kentucky (two leading experts on WWII radios) can't be overstated.  Mike encouraged the project from the beginning, faithfully responding to dozens of e-mail and phone inquiries.  He provided drawings, leads on equipment sources, and even machined seat rails for the radio operator chair in his own machine shop.  Steve Williams provided materials and completely restored all of the components and wiring harness for the "Command Set" (SCR-274N) radio set.



Remembering Iwo Jima and the B-29 Bomber Feb 19-20 2005

A series of special activities were held in Cedar Rapids to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Battle for Iwo Jima.  The B-29 radio equipment was operated on Saturday, the 19th, and on Sunday, Clyde Hussey, WWII B-29 Radio Operator shared his experience from the last B-29 mission of WWII on August 14-15, 1945. 

Below are some photos taken during the February 19th, 2005 event.

Jules, (KWØY) and Bill, N4VMY with combined 100+ years of RF and ART-13 experience, study the ART-13 schematic.

Clyde, KM4RC, B-29 radio man from WWII, back in his old seat.

Jules (KWØY), Rod (KØDAS), Lee (WTØD), and Bruce (WA3AFS) do a quick
checkup of the BC-348. 

June, 2006:

Lawrence Robinson and historian/author Jim B. Smith visited in Long Beach, CA.  Jim passed away on May 7, 2009.  Sadly, Jim never realized his dream of seeing his book, The Last Mission, become a feature film. This book is a must read for anybody interested in history, aviation, or the B-29.  Jim’s account was also adapted into a documentary that has aired periodically on The History Channel. 

August, 2007:

Our team was asked to run a special event to celebrate 60+ years of Collins Radios on Boeing Tankers.  The first tankers, KC-29s were merely converted B-29s, equipped, of course, with the Collins ART-13.  During this event on August the 7th, we successfully logged many contacts on the 40 meter band.

Tom Vinson (NYØV) at the controls of the B-29 liaison set for the Boeing Tanker Rally special event.

December 3rd, 2011
Members from the Richardson radio team had their initial visit to "FiFi" to survey the current radio operator's position and antenna fixtures.

Paul Veenstra (KCØTEG), "FiFi" Pilot David Oliver and Bob Kirby (K3NT)

Bob Kirby (K3NT)

The "FiFi" radio operator position as it appears today.

Ross Terry (K5SRT)

Special Thanks Individuals:

Rod Blocksome,  E. "Hank" Erwin Jr. of Alabama, Jim Durbin, H. Tom Hauer, Bob Lee, Lee Johnson, Jim Jones, Steve Jones, Mike Hanz, Clyde Hussey, David Maley, Bryan McCoy, Phil Shook, Jim B. Smith, Floyd Soo, Lothar Taylor, Tom Vinson, Maynard Wege, Steve Williams, Jules Yoder

Special Thanks Organizations:
The Carl and Mary Koehler History Center, Rockwell Collins Inc., Members of Collins Amateur Radio Club (Cedar Rapids, IA and Richardson, TX chapters), The Cedar Valley Amateur Radio Club and the gang at the Rockwell Collins Aircraft Completion Center.

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The B-29 Radio Project pages maintained by Lawrence Robinson
Last Updated 12/10/2011