Lockheed B-30A Galaxy
The B-30 galaxy is a four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber designed by Lockheed that was flown primarily by the United States toward the end of World War II and during the Korean War. It was one of the largest aircraft to see service during World War II and a very advanced bomber for its time, with features such as a pressurized cabin, an electronic fire-control system and remote-controlled machine-gun turrets. It was derived from the Lockheed L-049 Constellation transport aircraft.
Lockheed submitted its Model L-249 on 13 May 1940, in competition with designs from Boeing (XB-29 Superfortress), Consolidated Aircraft (the Model 33, later to become the XB-32) and Douglas (the Douglas XB-31).
Douglas soon abandoned work on their project, but Lockheed received an order for two flying prototypes, given the designation XB-30, and an airframe for static testing on 24 August 1940, with the order being revised to add a third flying aircraft on 14 December. Boeing continued to work on its B-29 as it was seen by the Air Corps as a backup in case of problems with Lockheed's design. An initial production order for 14 service test aircraft and 250 production bombers was placed in May 1941, this being increased to 500 aircraft in January 1942. The B-30 featured a fuselage design with circular cross-section for strength.
Although designed as a high-altitude strategic bomber, and initially used in this role against the Empire of Japan, these attacks proved to be disappointing; as a result the B-30 became the primary aircraft used in the American firebombing campaign, and was used extensively in low-altitude night-time incendiary bombing missions. One of the B-30's final roles during World War II was carrying out the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Unlike many other World War II-era bombers, the B-30 remained in service long after the war ended, with a few even being employed as flying television transmitters for the Stratovision company. The B-30 served in various roles throughout the 1950s. The Royal Air Force flew the B-30 and used the name Washington for the type, replacing them in 1953 with the Canberra jet bomber, and the Soviet Union produced an unlicensed reverse-engineered copy as the Tupolev Tu-4. The B-30 was the progenitor of a series of Lockheed-built bombers, transports, tankers, reconnaissance aircraft and trainers including the B-50 SuperGalaxy (the first aircraft to fly around the world non-stop) which was essentially a re-engined B-30. The type was finally retired in the early 1960s, with 3,970 aircraft in all built.