The B-29 Superfortress Wreckage - History and Facts | History Hit

The B-29 Superfortress Wreckage

Derbyshire, United Kingdom

Lily Johnson

29 Jan 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The B-29 Superfortress Wreckage

The B-29 Superfortress, now dubbed the ‘Bleaklow Bomber’, was a US Airforce aircraft whose wreckage is situated in Bleaklow in the Peak District. While the plane saw some of history’s most world-altering events first-hand, its wreckage is now one of the area’s more eerie sites, with much of its debris still scattered in the vicinity. 

The B-29 Superfortress history

The B-29 Superfortress was originally part of the 16th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron of the US Airforce, having been adapted for reconnaissance use rather than for bombing. 

In July 1946, it was used in Operation Crossroads to photograph nuclear testing over Bikini Atoll, including the dropping of an atomic bomb by fellow B-29 Bomber Superfortress, Dave’s Dream. This mission gave the aircraft a new name: Over Exposed, a fitting title in view of its final resting place. 

In 1948, Over Exposed bore witness to another significant event in the war when it took part in the life-saving Berlin airlift. Food and fuel supplies were flown into West Berlin, providing vital aid to its citizens after the USSR began a blockade of the city.

That same year however, the B-29 was called to the United Kingdom to continue its reconnaissance duties, operating in the Peak District area. On 3 November, it was carrying out a routine daytime flight with two other aircraft, leaving RAF Scampton near Lincoln at 10:15. 

The pilots were flying by instrument through heavy cloud, and relied on their flight time to navigate their position over the moors. 

Believing themselves clear of the hills, they began to descend too early, hitting the ground at around 11:00. All 13 on board were killed instantly as the aircraft was engulfed in flames. 

The ‘Bleaklow Bomber’ today

Today the wreckage still sits atop the hill near Higher Shelf Stones, and is as exposed as when it crashed. Its Duplex-Cyclone engines, fuselage and wing sections, gun turrets, and undercarriage can be seen amongst the grassy moorland. 

A memorial stone is present at the site, erected in 1988 by servicemen from RAF Finningley, and remembrance poppies are often placed in memory of those who were killed. 

The B-29 wreckage provides a contemplative walk through the Peaks, where evidence of its military history may be discovered first-hand. 

Getting to the B-29 Superfortress

The B-29 Bomber site is situated in Bleaklow, near Glossop in the Peak District. Parking is usually available at the lay-by on Snake Pass, situated along the A57.

A trail up to Bleaklow Head can be followed, reaching the trig point at Higher Shelf Stones and continuing on to the crash site. The walk is approximately 2 miles, and can be challenging underfoot due to the rocky terrain. 

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