FIFI was coming.
FIFI is the only flying B-29 Superfortress in the world. After a generous donation by Jim Cavanaugh from the Cavanaugh Flight Museum, the world famous Commemorative Air Force B-29 "FIFI" was coming to stay at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas.
I began following stories about FIFI on the web. Jim Cavanaugh's donation equipped her with brand new engines. She was going to appear at airshows again. I made it to FIFI's second public appearance on the airshow circuit. I met FIFI at the Alliance Airshow in North Texas on October 30, 2010.
But I felt like I already knew FIFI. When I discovered she was coming to the Cavanaugh, I began researching her for a scale model/3D model project. I dug an Airfix 1:72 B-29 kit out of my stash. Although the kit quality was pretty harsh, I saw it as an opportunity to experiment with making decals and a visual reference for construction of a 3D model of FIFI.
I began assembling the scale model kit but took a breather to make FIFI's nose art in Photoshop for the scale model decals. I also knew this would provide me artwork for my 3D model texture maps.
The Photoshop came out so good I abandoned the scale model to begin the 3D model. Pretty soon parts and subassemblies from the scale model lay scattered around my Mac as the 3D construction progressed. I also used the excellent Squadron B-29 Walk Around book for reference.
When FIFI's nose section came together, I realized I had it.
As I built her piece by piece, the hardest part was getting the shape of the wings right. I built the ribs and skinned the wings but it took several tries to get the shape right. I felt like an aerospace engineer.
Getting the shape of FIFI's enormous tail was important as was creating a good texture map.
I used the photograph of the Commemorative Air Force logo on the real FIFI's tail to create a texture map for the 3D model and a decal for the scale model.
FIFI in 3D
Making FIFI also gave me the opportunity to swap out nose art texture maps to create some other famous B-29's in 3D.
FIFI Scale Model
After meeting FIFI at the airshow, I came back with "fixes" including the addition of the CAF logo to the tail. I also finished the scale model.
I got some pics of FIFI at the Alliance Airshow and a few weeks later at a CAF meeting at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum. I climbed inside FIFI and got some pics of the interior. Very cool.
Cavanaugh Flight Museum/Addison Airport
FIFI final thoughts
Next up I will be joining the B-29/B-24 CAF Squadron now based at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum. There is a lot of work to do. FIFI's new hanger needs to be turned into a museum-quality space. I hope to learn everything there is to know about FIFI inside and out so I can give tours of her. It would be a dream come true to fly in FIFI or the B-24 and have the privilege of representing these rare warbirds at an airshow. This story is definitely "to be continued."
For more information on the B-29/B-24 CAF Squadron and the Cavanaugh Flight Museum go to
B-29/B-24 CAF Squadron
Cavanaugh Flight Museum