Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs against Japan

By J. Samuel Walker | Go to book overview

SIX
HIROSHIMA
AND
NAGASAKI

At 2:45 A.M. on August 6, 1945, a B-29 under the command of Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, a 29-year-old veteran pilot, began to roll down a runway on Tinian Island to take off on its historic mission to Hiroshima. The plane, which Tibbets had named Enola Gay after his mother, carried a crew of twelve men and an atomic bomb fueled with uranium 235. As it flew over Iwo Jima, it was joined by two other B-29s; their crews would seek scientific information on and take photographs of the blast. Tibbets informed his crew after takeoff that the cargo they would deliver was an atomic bomb, but otherwise the flight was uneventful. The weather was clear and the Enola Gay did not encounter resistance from antiaircraft fire or enemy fighters. The fleet of just three planes caused little alarm when it appeared over Hiroshima; no warning sirens sounded and citizens saw no reason to seek shelter.

At about 8:15 A.M. (Hiroshima time) the Enola Gay’s bombardier released the bomb. It was festooned with messages that would never be read, some obscene, some wrathful; one offered “Greetings to the Emperor from the men of the Indianapolis.” Forty-three seconds after leaving the plane, the bomb exploded, proving that the uranium 235, gun-type design worked as Manhattan Project scientists had promised. Even at 30,000 feet and eleven miles from ground zero, the Enola Gay was hit by two strong shock waves that bounced it around in the air and made a noise, as one crew member recalled,

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Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs against Japan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Preface to the Revised Edition ix
  • Preface xi
  • One - A Categorical Choice ? 1
  • Two - The Most Terrible Weapon Ever Known 7
  • Three - The Prospects for Victory, June 1945 20
  • Four - Paths to Victory 35
  • Five - Truman and the Bomb at Potsdam 53
  • Six - Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75
  • Seven - Hiroshima in History 98
  • Chronology Key Events of 1945 Relating to the Pacific War 111
  • Notes 113
  • Essay on Sources 131
  • Index 137
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