Atomic Bomb - Fat Man

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Tinian Island, Pacific Ocean.


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Tinian Island, Pacific Ocean

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There are pictures displayed in the pit, now glass-enclosed. This one shows Little Boy being hoisted into Enola Gay's bomb bay.
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Tinian   Island,   Pacific Ocean

It's a small island, less than 40 square miles, a flat green dot in the vastness of Pacific blue. 

Fly over it and you notice a slash across its north end of uninhabited bush, a long thin line

that looks like an overgrown dirt runway.  If you didn't know what it was, you wouldn't give

it a second glance out your airplane window.

On the ground, you see the runway isn't dirt but tarmac and crushed limestone, abandoned with weeds sticking out of it.  Yet this is arguably the most historical airstrip on earth.  This is where World War II was won.  This is Runway Able:

On July 24, 1944, 30,000 US Marines landed on the beaches of Tinian ...  Eight days later, over 8,000 of the 8,800 Japanese soldiers on the island were dead (vs. 328 Marines), and four months later the Seabees had built the busiest airfield of WWII - dubbed North Field -  enabling B-29 Superfortresses to launch air attacks on the Philippines, Okinawa, and mainland Japan.

Late in the afternoon of August 5, 1945, a B-29 was maneuvered over a bomb loading pit, then after lengthy preparations, taxied to the east end of North Field's main runway, Runway Able, and at 2:45am in the early morning darkness of August 6, took off.

The B-29 was piloted by Col. Paul Tibbets of the US Army Air Force, who had named the plane after his mother, Enola Gay.  The crew named the bomb they were carrying Little Boy.  6½ hours later at 8:15am Japan time, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima .

Three days later, in the pre-dawn hours of August 9, a B-29 named Bockscar (a pun on "boxcar" after its flight commander Capt. Fred Bock), piloted by Major Charles Sweeney took off from Runway Able.  Finding its primary target of Kokura obscured by clouds, Sweeney proceeded to the secondary target of Nagasaki, over which, at 11:01am, bombardier Kermit Beahan released the atomic bomb dubbed Fat Man.

The commemorative plaque records that 16 hours after the nuking of Nagasaki , "On August 10, 1945 at 0300, the Japanese Emperor without his cabinet's consent decided to end the Pacific War."

Take a good look at these pictures, folks.  This is where World War II ended with total victory of America over Japan . I was there all alone.  There were no other visitors and no one lives anywhere near for miles.  Visiting the Bomb Pits, walking along deserted Runway Able in solitude, was a moment of extraordinarily powerful solemnity.

It was a moment of deep reflection.  Most people, when they think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki , reflect on the numbers of lives killed in the nuclear blasts - at least 70,000 and 50,000 respectively. Being here caused me to reflect on the number of lives saved - how many more Japanese and Americans would have died in a continuation of the war had the nukes not been dropped.

Yet that was not all.  It's not just that the nukes obviated the US invasion of Japan , Operation Downfall, that would have caused upwards of a million American and Japanese deaths or more.  It's that
nuking   Hiroshima and Nagasaki were of extraordinary humanitarian benefit to the nation and people of   Japan .

Saipan is less than a mile north of Tinian ...  The month before the Marines took Tinian, on June 15, 1944, 71,000 Marines landed on Saipan ...  They faced 31,000 Japanese soldiers determined not to surrender.

Japan had colonized Saipan after World War I and turned the island into a giant sugar cane plantation.  By the time of the Marine invasion, in addition to the 31,000 entrenched soldiers, some 25,000 Japanese settlers were living on Saipan, plus thousands more Okinawans, Koreans, and native islanders brutalized as slaves to cut the sugar cane. 

There were also one or two thousand Korean "comfort women" (kanji in Japanese), abducted young women from Japan 's colony of Korea to service the Japanese soldiers as sex slaves.  (See The Comfort Women: Japan 's Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War, by George Hicks.)

Within a week of their landing, the Marines set up a civilian prisoner encampment that quickly attracted a couple thousand Japanese and others wanting US food and protection.  When word of this reached Emperor Hirohito - who contrary to the myth was in full charge of the war - he became alarmed that radio interviews of the well-treated prisoners broadcast to Japan would subvert his people's will to fight.

As meticulously documented by historian Herbert Bix in Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, the Emperor issued an order for all Japanese civilians on Saipan to commit suicide.  The order included the promise that, although the civilians were of low caste, their suicide would grant them a status in heaven equal to those honored soldiers who died in combat for their Emperor.

And that is why the precipice in the picture above is known as Suicide Cliff, off which over 20,000 Japanese civilians jumped to their deaths to comply with their fascist emperor's desire - mothers flinging their babies off the cliff first or in their arms as they jumped. 

Anyone reluctant or refused, such as the Okinawan or Korean slaves, were shoved off at gunpoint by the Jap soldiers.  Then the soldiers themselves proceeded to hurl themselves into the ocean to drown off a sea cliff afterwards called Banzai Cliff.  Of the 31,000 Japanese soldiers on Saipan , the Marines killed 25,000, 5,000 jumped off Banzai Cliff, and only the remaining thousand were taken prisoner.

The extent of this demented fanaticism is very hard for any civilized mind to fathom - especially when it is devoted not to anything noble but barbarian evil instead.  The vast brutalities inflicted by the Japanese on their conquered and colonized peoples of China , Korea , the Philippines , and throughout their "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" was a hideously depraved horror. 

And they were willing to fight to the death to defend it.  So they had to be nuked.  The only way to put an end to the Japanese barbarian horror was unimaginably colossal destruction against which they had no defense whatever. Nuking Japan was not a matter of justice, revenge, or it getting what it deserved.  It was the only way to end the Japanese dementia.

And it worked - for the Japanese.  They stopped being barbarians and started being civilized.  They achieved more prosperity - and peace - than they ever knew, or could have achieved had they continued fighting and not been nuked.  The shock of getting nuked is responsible.

We achieved this because we were determined to achieve victory.  Victory without apologies.  Despite perennial liberal demands we do so, America and its government has never apologized for nuking Japan ..  Hopefully, America never will.

  • Runway ABLE
  • 1945

Pearl Harbor

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Photo of BATTLESHIP ROW, Explosion is the USS Oklahoma.
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The attack on Pearl Harbor (called the Hawaii Operation or Operation Z by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, and the Battle of Pearl Harbor by some Americans) was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on the morning of December 7, 1941. The next day the United States declared war on Japan resulting in their entry into World War II. The attack was intended as a preventive action in order to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from influencing the war that the Empire of Japan was planning in Southeast Asia, against Britain and the Netherlands, as well as the U.S. in the Philippines. The base was attacked by Japanese aircraft (a total of 353, in two waves) launched from six aircraft carriers.

Four U.S. Navy battleships were sunk (two of which were raised and returned to service later in the war) and all of the four other battleships present were damaged. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship and one minelayer. 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed, 2,402 personnel were killed and 1,282 were wounded. The power station, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building (also home of the intelligence section) were not attacked. Japanese losses were light, with 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 65 servicemen killed or wounded. One Japanese sailor was captured.

The attack was a major engagement of World War II and came as a profound shock to the American people. Domestic support for isolationism, which had been strong, disappeared. Germany's ill-considered declaration of war on the U.S., which was not required by any treaty commitment, moved the U.S. from clandestine support of Britain (for example the Neutralit Patrol) into active alliance and full participation in the European Theater. Despite numerous historical precedents for unannounced military action, the lack of any formal warning by Japan, particularly while negotiations were still apparently ongoing, led to President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaiming December 7 "a date which will live in infamy".

  • Hawaii
  • 7 Dec. 1941

Col P Tibbets -B-29 Super Fortress Enola Gay On Tinian August '45

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The ENOLA GAY, Col Paul Tibbets, Pilot with A-Bomb.
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Col Paul Tibbets, Command Pilot  of the Boeing B-29 Bomber Enola Gay while on Tinian, a captured Japanese island south of Saipan, a few days before it air-dropped the Atomic Bomb Little Boy on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

In the hours before dawn on Aug. 6, 1945, the Enola Gay lifted off from the island of Tinian carrying a uranium atomic bomb assembled under extraordinary secrecy in the vast endeavor known as the Manhattan Project.

Six and a half hours later, under clear skies, then-Colonel Tibbets, of the Army Air Forces, guided the four-engine plane he had named in honor of his mother toward the bomb’s aiming point, the T-shaped Aioi Bridge in the center of Hiroshima, the site of an important Japanese army headquarters.

At 8:15 a.m. local time, the bomb known to its creators as Little Boy dropped free at an altitude of 31,000 feet. Forty-three seconds later, at 1,890 feet above ground zero, it exploded in a nuclear inferno that left tens of thousands dead and dying and turned much of Hiroshima, a city of some 250,000 at the time, into a scorched ruin.

Colonel Tibbets executed a well-rehearsed diving turn to avoid the blast effect.

In his memoir “The Tibbets Story,” he told of “the awesome sight that met our eyes as we turned for a heading that would take us alongside the burning, devastated city.”


Paul W. Tibbets Jr., Pilot of Enola Gay, Dies at 92

By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN Published: November 1, 2007
  • Tinian Island
  • 1945

Col F C Bock, Pilot of B-29 Bock's Car /A-Bomb 9 Aug.1945

-The Fission Implosion Pu239 Atomic Bomb Fat Man- The atomic bomb Fat Man is being handled in preparation for loading onto the Boeing B-29 Super Fortress Bock's Car, named for its pilot Frederick C. Bock, on Tinian, a captured Japanese island south of Saipan, the day before it was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.  (called: The 2nd Atomic Bomber Crew) of the Bock's Car.   B-29 BOCKSCAR

Bockscar, sometimes called Bock's Car or Bock Gime, is the name of the United States Army Air Forces B-29 bomber that dropped the "Fat Man" nuclear weapon over Nagasaki on 9 August 1945, the second atomic weapon used against Japan. It was assigned to the 393d Bomb Squadron, 509th Composite Group.

The name painted on the aircraft after the mission is a pun on "boxcar" after the name of its aircraft commander, Captain Frederick C. Bock.

Bockscar was flown on August 9, 1945, by the crew of another B-29, The Great Artiste, and piloted by Major Charles W. Sweeney, commander of the 393d BS.

Frederick C. Bock (1918 – August 25, 2000) was a World War II pilot who took part in the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in 1945, flying the B-29 bomber The Great Artiste, which was used for scientific measurements of the effects caused by the nuclear weapon. The bomber which actually dropped Fat Man was called Bockscar as it was usually flown by Frederick Bock. The staff was swapped just before the raid and Major Charles Sweeney piloted Bockscar, which flew with The Great Artiste and another aircraft.

  • Japan
  • 1945

Contributor: Princessbarbi
Created: November 15, 2010 · Modified: August 27, 2012

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