1. 1942: The debut flight of the mighty B-29 Superfortress
It was on this date in 1942 that the mighty B-29 Superfortress made its debut test flight. The Superfortress was a heavy bomber designed to fly higher and farther than any other while also being the biggest and fastest. The capabilities of this plane were way ahead of its time, it was able to carry loads that weighed almost as much as the plane itself up to altitudes above 30,000 feet. Apparently, the idea of the plane came from General Hap Arnold who was concerned that if Germany was victorious in Europe, the United States wouldn’t have any active bases east of the Atlantic from with to counterattack. The B-29 wasn’t used in battle until June of 1944 when it was used for a bombing run against Bangkok. In August of the following year, the Superfortress named Enola Gay flew right into the history books when it carried the 10,000lb Atomic Bomb used on Hiroshima. Then, just three days later, another B-29, referred to as Bock’s Car, was used for the attack on Nagasaki.
2. 1780: Benedict Arnold commits treason
Greed, debt, and resentment seem to be the main causes that led American General Benedict Arnold commit the act of treason on this date in 1780. It all started back in 1777 when Arnold felt he was due for a promotion, but instead it went to five men of a lower rank. Then, over the next few years, Arnold got married and he and his wife lived a lavish lifestyle in Philadelphia and, according to reports, also acquired a significant amount of debt. Arnold was a highly respected leader and had recently taken command over the American fort located on the Hudson River known as West Point in 1780. Since he was drowning in debt and still extremely bitter about not being promoted, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He reached out to Sir Henry Clinton who was head of the British Forces at the time and proposed a trade. Arnold offered to hand over West Point and the men that ran it in exchange for a high-ranking position in the British Army and a substantial amount of money. Arnold met with British major John Andre on this date and gave him the plans to take West Point. While returning with the plans, Andre was stopped and captured by three Westchester militiamen who discovered the papers that would expose the whole plot. Upon hearing that Andre had been caught, Arnold decided to flee the United States where he would seek refuge with the British.
3. 1999: Devastating earthquake hit Taiwan
A massive 7.6 magnitude earthquake devastated the island nation of Taiwan on this date in 1999, causing billions in damages and leaving more than 100,000 people homeless. Buildings all over the island were brought down to piles of rubble. The extent of the damage was much worse due to poor construction methods used during the early ’90s when Taiwan had seen a major increase in population. However, there was also roads that had buckled due to the pressure and lakes that seemed to appear out of nowhere because landslides had diverted rivers. The thirty minutes that followed the main quake brought a total of five aftershocks, all measuring at least 6.0 in magnitude that made matters even worse. There were reports that a 14-story building had toppled over in Dongshi and that another 12-story hotel was completely destroyed. Some areas were hit so bad that they didn’t have water, telephone service, or electricity for quite some time. The quake was so powerful that it actually created small hills all over the countryside that had not been there previously. The death toll was said to be up in the thousands, making it one of the worst quakes to hit Taiwan since 1935 when a tremor killed over 3,000 people. Even though it was slow going, cities and homes were rebuilt, only this time with strict building requirements in hopes of preventing that type of destruction from happening again.