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what plane dropped the bomb on nagasaki

what plane dropped the bomb on nagasaki


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Enola Gay, the B-29bomber that was used by the United States on August 6, 1945, to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, the first time the explosive device had been used on an enemy target. The aircraft was named after the mother of pilot Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr.

The B-29


The B-29 (also called Superfortress) was a four-engine heavy bomber that was built by Boeing. It was first flown in 1942 and soon became popular in the Pacific theatre during World War II. In 1944 the B-29 was selected to carry the atomic bomb,

and a number of the aircraft subsequently underwent various modifications, such as reinforcements of the bomb bay. That year Lieutenant Colonel Tibbets,

who was one of the most experienced B-29 pilots, was tasked with assembling and training a crew. The modified B-29s were later flown to the U.S. military base on Tinian, one of the Mariana Islands.

On July 16, 1945, the United States successfully tested an atomic bomb.


Pres. Harry S. Truman

Pres. Harry S. Truman was informed of the development while attending the Potsdam Conference, and he in turn told Soviet leader Joseph Stalin that the United States had “a new weapon of unusual destructive force.” On July 26 the Allied leaders called for Japan to unconditionally surrender or face “prompt and utter destruction.”

After Japan ignored the demand, the decision was made to bomb Hiroshima.

At approximately 2:45 AM on August 6, 1945, Tibbets—who was now a full colonel—and a crew of 11 took off from Tinian island carrying a uranium bomb that was known as “Little Boy.”

The Enola Gay—Tibbets had a maintenance man paint that name on the aircraft’s nose shortly before takeoff—was accompanied by various other planes. At 8:15 AM, the bomb was released over Hiroshima.

While some 1,900 feet (580 metres) above the city, Little Boy exploded, killing tens of thousands and causing widespread destruction. Tibbets flew the Enola Gay back to Tinian, where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Three days later the Enola Gay conducted weather reconnaissance in the lead-up to the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan. Japan officially surrendered on September 2, 1945.


The Enola Gay(what plane dropped the bomb on nagasaki)

The Enola Gay remained in service for several years before being given to the Smithsonian Institution on July 3, 1949. It was later disassembled and stored in Maryland. In 1984 work began on restoring the aircraft, which was in dire need of repair. Exposure to the elements had damaged the plane, and it had been vandalized.

In addition, birds had built nests in various compartments.

The project ultimately spanned some 20 years. In 1995 a portion of the plane served as the centrepiece of a controversial exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, D.C. The exhibit had originally been scheduled to include artifacts from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and highlight the debate over the decision to use the bomb. Amid fierce opposition,

however, the original plans were canceled, and a much scaled-back version was staged.

In 2003 the fully restored Enola Gay was put on display at the NASM’s Steven F. Udar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

Anglo-American Chain of Command in Western Europe, June 1944


U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill

When U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met at the Arcadia Conference (December 1941–January 1942), they began a period of wartime cooperation that,

for all the very serious differences that divided the two countries, remains without parallel in military history. Anglo-American cooperation was formally embodied in the Combined Chiefs of Staff,

which was not so much a body as a system of consultation, reinforced by frequent conferences, between the British Chiefs of Staff Committee and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Between conferences, the British Joint Staff Mission, based in Washington, D.C., maintained contact with the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff on behalf of their counterparts in the United Kingdom.


invasion of northwest Europe

For the invasion of northwest Europe, the Combined Chiefs created the temporary position of Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force and assigned it to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, an American with a proven ability to work amicably with the often considerable personalities who directed the Allied armies in Europe.

Eisenhower’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) had authority over all the branches (air, sea, and land) of the armed forces of all countries whose contribution was necessary to the success of Operation Overlord (the planned Normandy invasion).

These were grouped for the invasion under the Allied Naval Expeditionary Force, the Allied Expeditionary Air Force, and the Twenty-first Army Group (the expeditionary ground force)—all commanded by Britons.

For the duration of Overlord, the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe and the Royal Air Force Bomber Command were placed directly under the supreme commander’s authority, ensuring the contribution of those very important commands to the overall invasion plan.

The European Theater of Operations

The European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army, was to direct the gigantic effort of supplying an entire invasion army as it crossed the English Channel and advanced into the Continent.

French General Charles de Gaulle, president of the French Committee of National Liberation but by no means the universally acknowledged head of the French government-in-exile, maintained a liaison with SHAEF through the commander of the Free French Forces in Britain.
Below the level of expeditionary force or army group, the various air forces, naval task forces,

and armies were divided into British or American commands (the First Canadian Army achieving coequal status during the Normandy campaign).

Even at the operations level,

however, the cooperation among the fighting units reflected the binational structure of SHAEF and the Combined Chiefs of Staff. In this manner the Anglo-American allies managed to avoid the division of responsibility that was built into the German chain of command and that proved fatal to the Germans’ war effort from D-Day on.

German Chain of Command in Western Europe, June 1944

The military command structure of German forces in Europe in mid-1944 reflected the growing megalomania of the Führer and supreme commander of the armed forces, Adolf Hitler, as well as the rigidity of the Nazi state.

All military operations in the western theatre were placed under the direction of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW; Armed Forces High Command);


reported to Hitler

what plane dropped the bomb on nagasaki
what plane dropped the bomb on nagasaki

this body reported to Hitler separately from its rival, the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH; Army High Command),

which ran the war on the Eastern Front. Under the OKW, the defense of western Europe against a possible Allied invasion from Britain was entrusted to the Oberbefehlshaber West (OBW; Commander in Chief West),

Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt.

Yet even this veteran army commander had no direct authority over Navy Group West or the Third Air Fleet, which were crucial to the security of his theatre.

Both of these forces reported to their own high commands, which in turn reported to Hitler.


The same situation

The same situation applied to the theatre armoured reserve, Panzer Group West: its commander was to deliberate in concert with the OBW, yet none of its well-armed, mobile divisions was to be moved without the explicit permission of the Führer.

Finally, through Army Group B, Rundstedt directly controlled some 30 infantry divisions and air force field divisions,

as well as several armoured units from Brittany to the Dutch-German border;

yet even the commander of this group, Erwin Rommel, having been awarded the title of field marshal, was entitled to appeal personally to Hitler with pressing tactical concerns—a resource that this determined general was not loath to exploit.

The Hiroshima Pilot Who Became a Symbol of Antinuclear Protest

Claude Eatherly spent years punishing himself for his role in the first atomic bombing. His remorse made him an international celebrity.


“Beyond the World War II We Know”

The latest article from “Beyond the World War II We Know,”

a series from The Times that documents lesser-known stories from the war, looks at Claude Eatherly, an American pilot involved in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. After years of being arrested for petty crimes, he became a high-profile antinuclear activist.
The B-29 bomber banked hard to avoid the blast.


The explosion

The explosion lit the plane’s interior with a brilliant flash, so bright that some of the aviators momentarily thought they had been blinded. More than one noted a strange metallic taste in his mouth.

A loud clap broke around them as the first of three shock waves hit, causing the plane’s aluminum body to vibrate violently.

Looking down,

they saw the fireball unfurling.
The American airmen who flew the mission to drop the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, were witnessing a man-made cataclysm unlike anything seen in the previous history of human warfare.

They watched as fire swallowed the city whole: “It was like no ordinary fire,” a crew member later recalled. “It contained a dozen colors, all of them blindingly bright.” Just when it appeared that the explosion was subsiding, “a kind of mushroom spurted out of the top and traveled up, up to what some say was a distance of 60,000 or 70,000 feet.”

what plane dropped the bomb on nagasaki
what plane dropped the bomb on nagasaki


deadly weapon ever created by human

The atomic bomb was the most ferociously deadly weapon ever created by human ingenuity — a technology that multiplied the power of these few men and planes to a degree out of all comprehensible scale.

In Hiroshima alone, some 70,000 people were killed instantly — a horrific deed fit for gods or monsters — but overhead in their plane the airmen were normal men in human bodies, no more able than anyone else to fully comprehend or bear responsibility for the mission they had been chosen to execute.

In the ensuing decades, only one of the 90 servicemen who flew the atomic bombing missions, Maj. Claude Eatherly, came forward to publicly declare that he felt remorse for what he had done.

Eatherly, then an outgoing 26-year-old Texan, piloted the advance weather plane tasked with assessing target visibility over Hiroshima, giving the go ahead to drop the bomb that day. His role in the bombing would haunt him for the rest of his life.


The discrepancy

The discrepancy between the tremendous power of humanity’s inventions and the limited ability of any single person to comprehend, let alone control the moral and practical implications of that power,

is what Günther Anders, the postwar German-Jewish philosopher and antinuclear activist, called “the Promethean gap.” Prometheus is a character from Greek mythology who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans.

With fire, humans were launched on the road to evermore powerful inventions — a cascade of technological advances that would also unleash new forms of death, destruction and exploitation.

In the Greek myth, the gods punished Prometheus with eternal torment.


dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima

For Anders, the U.S. service members tasked with dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the prime example of people caught in the Promethean gap. On the one hand, these U.S. servicemen were cogs in the atomic machine. They were couriers sent to deliver a deadly message about U.S. capability and commitment to winning the war.

If one of them were to decline the assignment, someone else would have stepped up to fill his shoes. Under these circumstances, it was possible to be “guiltlessly guilty.” On the other hand, as participants in and witnesses to the violence,

what plane dropped the bomb on nagasaki
what plane dropped the bomb on nagasaki

physical consequences

these men came closer to connecting with the physical consequences of and responsibility for their actions than any others.
Once their initial sense of astonishment subsided, most of the airmen reconciled themselves to the bombings by focusing on their affiliation to their fellow American servicemen, whose lives they may have saved by obviating a need for a ground invasion of Japan. Others simply distanced themselves from the morality of the decision entirely. Col. Paul Tibbets Jr.,

who commanded the Army Air Forces unit tasked with delivering the atomic bombs and piloted the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, defended his actions until his dying days.

“I made up my mind then that the morality of dropping that bomb was not my business,” he told an interviewer in 1989. “I have never lost a night’s sleep on the deal.”

Unlike Tibbets, Eatherly reported suffering from nightmares about the bombings, and his guilt drove him into a spiral of self sabotage. In April 1957, Newsweek ran an article: “Hero in Handcuffs,” which reported that Eatherly was in a jail cell in Fort Worth after breaking into two post offices in rural Texas.

It described a tattered postwar life: Eatherly had been in and out of psychiatric treatment at a V.A. hospital in Waco, had served time in a New Orleans jail for forging a check and had been involved in a series of stickups at small-town grocery stores. But his crimes were so poorly executed — at least once he fled the scene,

leaving the money behind — that his psychiatrist and one of his defense attorneys separately reached the conclusion that Eatherly must have intended to get caught. At his trial for the post-office burglaries, Eatherly’s psychiatrist testified that his patient suffered from a guilt complex stemming above all from his role in the bombing of Hiroshima. In carrying out these petty crimes, what Eatherly actually wanted was punishment. A jury found him “not guilty by reason of insanity” and he was released.

Atomic bomb

The atomic bomb, and nuclear bombs, are powerful weapon that use nuclear reactions as their source of explosive energy. Scientists first developed nuclear weapons technology during World War II. Atomic bombs have been used only twice in war—both times by the United States against Japan at the end of World War II, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A period of nuclear proliferation followed that war, and during the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union vied for supremacy in a global nuclear arms race.

what plane dropped the bomb on nagasaki
what plane dropped the bomb on nagasaki


how many times have atomic bombs been used

The dangers from such weapons arise from their very existence. Although nuclear weapons have only been used twice in warfare—in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945—about 13,400 reportedly remain in our world today and there have been over 2,000 nuclear tests conducted to date.


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