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Hiroshima - a Live Blog
Learn about the minute by minute of what happened on the day the World Stood Still
On this day, the United States of America dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Today, we will be live blogging minute by minute updates as it happened. Please join us throughout the day as we learn about this day in history.
The US B-29 base is in a small island called Tinian Island which is off the coast of Guam. This is where they begin to launch the operations.
(T) denotes Tinian Time. (H) denotes the time in Hiroshima and (NY) denotes Eastern Standard Time in New York.
Aug-5 23:00(H) 10:00(NY)
Colonel Paul Tibbets gives a final briefing at the crew lounge. This mission has been named “Mission #13.” So far, seven B-29 bombers have been prepared to launch. Paul Tibbets has decided to pilot the main plane the Enola Gay. Two observation planes called The Great Artiste and Necessary Evil are also going to accompany the Enola Gay on the mission.
Aug-5 23:15(H) 10:15(NY)
The Chaplin, William Downey heads to the crew lounge. He has composed a special prayer for this occasion. He wrote down the prayer in the back of the envelope.
Chaplin William Downey
The prayer reads as following:
Almighty Father, Who wilt hear the prayer of them that love thee, we pay thee to be with those who brave the heights of Thy heaven and who carry the battle to our enemies. Guard and protect them, we pray thee, as they fly their appointed rounds. May they, as well as we, know Thy strength and power, and armed with Thy might may they bring this war to a rapid end. We pray Thee that the end of the war may come soon, and that once more we may know peace on earth. May the men who fly this night be kept safe in Thy care, and may they be returned safely to us. We shall go forward trusting in Thee, knowing that we are in Thy care now and forever. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
In the Island of Tianen, they had constructed a special shed to assemble parts of the bomb. This shed was known as the “Kirkpatrick Building”
Interestingly enough, the most of the crew of the seven planes did not know about the nature of the atomic bomb until one day before the bombing. Earlier that afternoon, Derek Parsons decided not to sugar coat it. He said,"The bomb you are going to drop is something new in the history of warfare. It is the most destructive weapon ever produced. We think it will knock out everything within a three-mile area."
Aug-5 23:45(H) 10:45(NY)
The crew headed to the Mess Hall to get an early breakfast and/or late dinner before they began their mission.
Aug-6 01:15(T) 00:15(H)
A truck comes to pick up the crew of the Enola Gay and the two accompanying aircrafts.
Aug-6 01:37(T) 00:37(H)
Three weather aircrafts, Full House, Jabit III, and Straight Flush took off from the North Field in adjacent runways. The Full House was supposed to fly over Nagasaki. Jabit III was to fly over Kokura. The Straight Flush was to fly over Hiroshima.
The B-29 pilots needed a clear weather so that they could accurately drop the bomb over their targets. The Pacific Typhoon season had already begun. The biggest worry was that Typhoon Queenie was going to be on the path of these bombers.
Aug-6 01:45(T) 00:45(H)
While it was supposed to be a “top-secret” mission, President Truman had sent in select members of the American press to Tinian Island to photograph the launching of the Enola Gay. As the crew tried to enter the Enola Gay, they saw photographers, floodlights and flashes. Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay remarked, “I expected I expected to see MGM's lion walk to the apron or Warner's logo to light up the sky. It was crazy.” He did not expect this to be a media circus.
Of course, the bomb was not needed to win the war. The bomb was preparation for the next war that America was determined to fight: the cold war. It was to show the might of the American empire.
Jerome Ossip, one of the soldiers on the ground thrust a K-20 stills camera onto Sergeant Bob Caron’s hands. Sgt Caron was seated in the tail and he would get a panoramic view of the bomb as it exploded. Ossip quickly taught Sgt Caron how to use the camera. He said, “Pull the trigger on the shutter like this. Don't change the aperture. And shoot anything you see."
In Tibbets’ coat pocket, there lied a matchbox. It contained 12 cyanide capsules. One for each crew. This was in case the bomber was shot down or they were captured before they could detonate the bomb. They didn’t want to risk being tortured for the secrets of what was on the plane.
Aug-6 02:27(T) 01:27(H)
At his engineer's panel, Technical Sergeant Wyatt Duzenbury, begins the pre-flight procedures. It is a check-list that they need to get through to start the plane.
The other two planes: The Great Artiste and the Necessary Evil start their engines and are right behind the Enola Gay.
Aug-6 02:45(T) 01:45(H)
Enola Gay begins takeoff roll. The plane is overloaded since the nuclear bomb codenamed “little boy” weights 4400 KGs. In order to take off, Paul Tibbets needs to push all the throttles ahead. It requires the entire runway of 3.2KMs to successfully take off. It is a bit unbalanced as much of the load is in the back.
Aug-6 02:50(T) 01:50(H)
General Ferrell dispatches the following cable back to Washington DC.
Little Boy mission left Tinian at 051645 (1245 EWT) with Parsons and Tibbets in charge.
Observing B-295 ассоmраnied with Alvarez, Agneww and Johnston in first and Waldman in second.
Three B-29s for everything normal.
Тwo weather left one hour earlier to check at 3 targets.
Aug-6 03:00(T) 02:00(H)
Parsons is given the order to start arming the bomb.
The arming system of a nuclear weapon is to enable it to get electronic signals to detonate. Before this, there are no signals going in, so no one can accidentally detonate it. They replaced the dummy switches with real switches that can send signals.
Aug-6 04:20(T) 03:20(H)
It looks like the Paul Tibbets decided to sleep for a few winks after arming the nuclear bomb.
We know this because Capt. Robert Lewis, who was the co-pilot of the aircraft Enola Gay wrote the following in his log:
At 0420 Dutch Van Kirk sends me word that we will be at Iwo Jima at 0525, so we’ll just have to check on him to see if he is right.
The Colonel, better known as “Old Bull,” shows signs of a tough day, with all he had to do to get this mission off. He is deserving of a few winks, so I’ll have a bite to eat and look after “George” [the automatic pilot].
The crew who were resting started to wake up. Capt. Robert Lewis wrote in his log
The first signs of dawn came to us at 0500, and that also is a nice sight after having spent the previous 30 minutes dodging large cumulus clouds.
The Enola Gay was over the Pacific Ocean. The crew of the Enola Gay was supposed to rendezvous with the other two planes at around 06:00 at Iwo Jima.
The three bombers rendezvous over Iwo Jima. Now, they set their course for Japan. The first choice is Hiroshima, but they have to wait for the weather report to come back.
Capt. Robert Lewis wrote in his logbook:
It is 0552, it is real light outside, and we are only a few miles from Iwo Jima. We are beginning to climb to a new altitude, at which, we will remain until we are about one hour away from the Empire.
For the next twelve minutes, Tibbets circles around the Island as the other two planes meet behind each wing so that they can fly in formation.
Major Van Kirk, who is calculating everything by hand calculates the coordinates. He writes 327 degrees, a 13-degree shift to the left, pointing the formation almost exactly northwest. The time on the heading was recorded as it was 06071/2. However, no one on board were 100% sure which city they would hit.
Dr. Hachaya was a doctor at the hospital in Hiroshima. His house was just a few yards from the Hospital. He was in his garden writing in his diary around this time. He had already spent a sleepless night working all night. He had just gotten home and was hoping he could rest. But today was not the day.
Enola Gay begins its ascent to Hiroshima. It goes upto 90000M For those flying the B-29, the biggest problem would be flying fast enough and far enough to outrun the shock wave of the atomic bomb. In order to survive, a B-29 needed to be at least 12Km from ground zero. Obviously it is not drawn to scale. But, if the weapon detonated at 600M and the plane was flying at 9000M in the air, they would need to fly 10 KM away from the blast site to not get hit by the shockwave.
Harry Truman was on the ship USS Augusta in anticipation for news about the bomb. Harry Truman was sitting down at the mess hall at the USS Augusta to eat dinner. Right before dinner, he decided to offer a prayer with the Ship’s Chaplain:
Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto Thee
And through the truth that comes from God
Mankind shall then indeed be free.”
Photo from July , 1945 on the USS Augusta.
The Straight Flush, one of the three weather planes flies over Hiroshima.
The pilot of straight flush radios the following message to the Enola Gay: “Cloud cover less than 3/10ths at all altitudes. Advice: bomb primary."
Col. Paul Tibbets uses his intercom and announces on the flight “It’s Hiroshima.”
The crew of the Enola Gay then radio a one-word message to the squadron chief in Iwo Jima "Primary.”
The teacher opens the classroom at the Noboricho Elementary school. It is less than 1.1 km from ground zero. The students would be arriving between now and 8:00 AM
Hiromu Morishita was a 14-year-old student at Hiroshima. He was mobilized as part of a special workforce to clean up the Tsurumi bridge in Hiroshima. He was commuting to the bridge.
The Enola Gay crosses Shikoku
Van Kirk announces the final calculations. The city of Hiroshima comes to into view. Enola Gay is flying about 320 km/hr.
Control of the Enola Gay is handed over to the Major Thomas Ferebee, who was navigating by site. He was looking over the plane’s window. He had to visually scan for the aiming point which was the Atoi bridge. Local Hiroshima Radio spots these three planes and reports that there are 3 planes in Hiroshima.
Col. Tibbets says, "On Glasses" and everyone puts on their protective glasses to make sure their eyes are not damaged by the detonation shockwave.
The bomb bay doors snap open, and Little Boy drops clear of its restraining hook and starts dropping. It drops for another 44 seconds. Col. Paul Tibbets takes back control of the plane and forces the Enola Gay to make a sharp 155 degree turn.
Everything within 800M instantly vaporizes.
There was a little girl near the Atoi bridge and she instantly vaporized.
The shockwave travels and vaporizes the bronze Buddha Statue
Enola Gay circles Hiroshima a total of three times beginning at 900M before it heads back to Tinian Island.
Every structure within 1.6KM radius of the bomb was completely destroyed.
As the casualties pour in, no one is left to help the survivors. At the Red Cross Hospital, only one doctor, Terufumi Sasaki is available and on duty.
The majority of the kids in Noboricho Elementary school are dead.
40,000 Korean workers who were essentially "kidnapped" from Korea to work at the Mitsibishi factory are all dead.
Leo Szilard was a Hungarian-American scientist on the Manhattan Project. He was against dropping the atomic bomb. He wrote a petition to President Harry Truman asking him to reconsider. His petition never made it to the President because it was pigeonholed by one General Groves.
Upon hearing upon this petition, General Grove tried to take action against Leo Szilard. He wrote a letter to the British inquiring about Szilard.
On July 25, 1945, General Spatz issued the order to drop the bomb on Japan. It makes no mention of sparing civilians or limiting oneself to military targets.
Another View of Japan
This photo was taken in one of the previous reconnaissance missions prior to Hiroshima. You can see the emperor’s palace.
Truman’s Chief of Staff
Adm. William Leahy, President Truman’s Chief of Staff, wrote in his 1950 memoir I Was There that:
the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.… in being the first to use it, we…adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children