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Tue Aug 6, 2019, 09:46 AM

74 Years Ago Today; Little Boy forever changes life on Earth

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki


Atomic bomb mushroom clouds over Hiroshima (left) and Nagasaki (right)

The United States detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively, with the consent of the United Kingdom, as required by the Quebec Agreement. The two bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians, and remain the only use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict.

In the final year of the war, the Allies prepared for a very costly invasion of the Japanese mainland. This undertaking was preceded by a conventional and firebombing campaign which devastated 67 Japanese cities. The war in Europe had concluded when Germany signed its instrument of surrender on May 8, 1945, and the Allies turned their full attention to the Pacific theater. The Allies called for the unconditional surrender of the Imperial Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945, the alternative being "prompt and utter destruction". Japan ignored the ultimatum and the war continued.

By August 1945, the Allies' Manhattan Project had produced two types of atomic bombs, and the 509th Composite Group of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) was equipped with the specialized Silverplate version of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that could deliver them from Tinian in the Mariana Islands. The Allies issued orders for atomic bombs to be used on four Japanese cities on July 25. On August 6, one of the modified B-29s dropped a uranium gun-type bomb ("Little Boy" ) on Hiroshima. Another B-29 dropped a plutonium implosion bomb ("Fat Man" ) on Nagasaki three days later. The bombs immediately devastated their targets. Over the next two to four months, the acute effects of the atomic bombings killed between 90,000 and 146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. Large numbers of people continued to die for months afterward from the effects of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizable military garrison.

Japan surrendered to the Allies on August 15, six days after the bombing of Nagasaki and the Soviet Union's declaration of war. The Japanese government signed the instrument of surrender on September 2 in Tokyo Bay, which effectively ended World War II. Scholars have extensively studied the effects of the bombings on the social and political character of subsequent world history and popular culture, and there is still much debate concerning the ethical and legal justification for the bombings.

<snip>

Hiroshima
Hiroshima during World War II

At the time of its bombing, Hiroshima was a city of industrial and military significance. A number of military units were located nearby, the most important of which was the headquarters of Field Marshal Shunroku Hata's Second General Army, which commanded the defense of all of southern Japan, and was located in Hiroshima Castle. Hata's command consisted of some 400,000 men, most of whom were on Kyushu where an Allied invasion was correctly anticipated. Also present in Hiroshima were the headquarters of the 59th Army, the 5th Division and the 224th Division, a recently formed mobile unit. The city was defended by five batteries of 7-cm and 8-cm (2.8 and 3.1 inch) anti-aircraft guns of the 3rd Anti-Aircraft Division, including units from the 121st and 122nd Anti-Aircraft Regiments and the 22nd and 45th Separate Anti-Aircraft Battalions. In total, an estimated 40,000 Japanese military personnel were stationed in the city.

Hiroshima was a supply and logistics base for the Japanese military. The city was a communications center, a key port for shipping, and an assembly area for troops. It was a beehive of war industry, manufacturing parts for planes and boats, for bombs, rifles, and handguns. The center of the city contained several reinforced concrete buildings and lighter structures. Outside the center, the area was congested by a dense collection of small timber workshops set among Japanese houses. A few larger industrial plants lay near the outskirts of the city. The houses were constructed of timber with tile roofs, and many of the industrial buildings were also built around timber frames. The city as a whole was highly susceptible to fire damage. It was the second largest city in Japan after Kyoto that was still undamaged by air raids, primarily because it lacked the aircraft manufacturing industry that was the XXI Bomber Command's priority target. On July 3, the Joint Chiefs of Staff placed it off limits to bombers, along with Kokura, Niigata and Kyoto.

The population of Hiroshima had reached a peak of over 381,000 earlier in the war but prior to the atomic bombing, the population had steadily decreased because of a systematic evacuation ordered by the Japanese government. At the time of the attack, the population was approximately 340,000–350,000. Residents wondered why Hiroshima had been spared destruction by firebombing. Some speculated that the city was to be saved for U.S. occupation headquarters, others thought perhaps their relatives in Hawaii and California had petitioned the U.S. government to avoid bombing Hiroshima. More realistic city officials had ordered buildings torn down to create long, straight firebreaks. These continued to be expanded and extended up to the morning of August 6, 1945.

Bombing of Hiroshima


The Enola Gay dropped the "Little Boy" atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Paul Tibbets (center in photograph ) can be seen with six of the aircraft's crew (three on each side).

Hiroshima was the primary target of the first atomic bombing mission on August 6, with Kokura and Nagasaki as alternative targets. The 393d Bombardment Squadron B-29 Enola Gay, named after Tibbets' mother and piloted by Tibbets, took off from North Field, Tinian, about six hours' flight time from Japan. Enola Gay was accompanied by two other B-29s: The Great Artiste, commanded by Major Charles Sweeney, which carried instrumentation, and a then-nameless aircraft later called Necessary Evil, commanded by Captain George Marquardt, which served as the photography aircraft.

After leaving Tinian, the aircraft made their way separately to Iwo Jima to rendezvous with Sweeney and Marquardt at 05:55 at 9,200 feet (2,800 m), and set course for Japan. The aircraft arrived over the target in clear visibility at 31,060 feet (9,470 m). Parsons, who was in command of the mission, armed the bomb in flight to minimize the risks during takeoff. He had witnessed four B-29s crash and burn at takeoff, and feared that a nuclear explosion would occur if a B-29 crashed with an armed Little Boy on board. His assistant, Second Lieutenant Morris R. Jeppson, removed the safety devices 30 minutes before reaching the target area.

During the night of August 5–6, Japanese early warning radar detected the approach of numerous American aircraft headed for the southern part of Japan. Radar detected 65 bombers headed for Saga, 102 bound for Maebashi, 261 en route to Nishinomiya, 111 headed for Ube and 66 bound for Imabari. An alert was given and radio broadcasting stopped in many cities, among them Hiroshima. The all-clear was sounded in Hiroshima at 00:05. About an hour before the bombing, the air raid alert was sounded again, as Straight Flush flew over the city. It broadcast a short message which was picked up by Enola Gay. It read: "Cloud cover less than 3/10th at all altitudes. Advice: bomb primary." The all-clear was sounded over Hiroshima again at 07:09.

At 08:09, Tibbets started his bomb run and handed control over to his bombardier, Major Thomas Ferebee. The release at 08:15 (Hiroshima time) went as planned, and the Little Boy containing about 64 kg (141 lb) of uranium-235 took 44.4 seconds to fall from the aircraft flying at about 31,000 feet (9,400 m) to a detonation height of about 1,900 feet (580 m) above the city. Enola Gay traveled 11.5 mi (18.5 km) before it felt the shock waves from the blast.

Due to crosswind, the bomb missed the aiming point, the Aioi Bridge, by approximately 800 ft (240 m) and detonated directly over Shima Surgical Clinic. It released the equivalent energy of 16 kilotons of TNT (67 TJ), ± 2 kt.[138] The weapon was considered very inefficient, with only 1.7% of its material fissioning. The radius of total destruction was about 1 mile (1.6 km), with resulting fires across 4.4 square miles (11 km2).

Enola Gay stayed over the target area for two minutes and was ten miles away when the bomb detonated. Only Tibbets, Parsons, and Ferebee knew of the nature of the weapon; the others on the bomber were only told to expect a blinding flash and given black goggles. "It was hard to believe what we saw", Tibbets told reporters, while Parsons said "the whole thing was tremendous and awe-inspiring ... the men aboard with me gasped 'My God'". He and Tibbets compared the shockwave to "a close burst of ack-ack fire".

Events on the ground
People on the ground reported a pika (ピカ )—a brilliant flash of light—followed by a don (ドン )—a loud booming sound. Some 70,000–80,000 people, around 30% of the population of Hiroshima at the time, were killed by the blast and resultant firestorm, and another 70,000 were injured. It is estimated that as many as 20,000 Japanese military personnel were killed. U.S. surveys estimated that 4.7 square miles (12 km2) of the city were destroyed. Japanese officials determined that 69% of Hiroshima's buildings were destroyed and another 6–7% damaged.

Some of the reinforced concrete buildings in Hiroshima had been very strongly constructed because of the earthquake danger in Japan, and their framework did not collapse even though they were fairly close to the blast center. Since the bomb detonated in the air, the blast was directed more downward than sideways, which was largely responsible for the survival of the Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall, now commonly known as the Genbaku (A-bomb) dome. This building was designed and built by the Czech architect Jan Letzel, and was only 150 m (490 ft) from ground zero (the hypocenter). The ruin was named Hiroshima Peace Memorial and was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 over the objections of the United States and China, which expressed reservations on the grounds that other Asian nations were the ones who suffered the greatest loss of life and property, and a focus on Japan lacked historical perspective. The bombing started intense fires that spread rapidly through timber and paper homes, burning everything in a radius of 2 kilometers (1.2 mi). As in other Japanese cities, the firebreaks proved ineffective.

The air raid warning had been cleared at 07:31, and many people were outside, going about their activities. Eizō Nomura was the closest known survivor, being in the basement of a reinforced concrete building (it remained as the Rest House after the war) only 170 meters (560 ft) from ground zero at the time of the attack. He died in 1982, aged 84. Akiko Takakura was among the closest survivors to the hypocenter of the blast. She was in the solidly-built Bank of Hiroshima only 300 meters (980 ft) from ground-zero at the time of the attack.

Over 90% of the doctors and 93% of the nurses in Hiroshima were killed or injured—most had been in the downtown area which received the greatest damage. The hospitals were destroyed or heavily damaged. Only one doctor, Terufumi Sasaki, remained on duty at the Red Cross Hospital. Nonetheless, by early afternoon the police and volunteers had established evacuation centres at hospitals, schools and tram stations, and a morgue was established in the Asano library.

Most elements of the Japanese Second General Army headquarters were undergoing physical training on the grounds of Hiroshima Castle, barely 900 yards (820 m) from the hypocenter. The attack killed 3,243 troops on the parade ground. The communications room of Chugoku Military District Headquarters that was responsible for issuing and lifting air raid warnings was located in a semi-basement in the castle. Yoshie Oka, a Hijiyama Girls High School student who had been mobilized to serve as a communications officer, had just sent a message that the alarm had been issued for Hiroshima and neighboring Yamaguchi, when the bomb exploded. She used a special phone to inform Fukuyama Headquarters (some 100 kilometers (62 mi) away) that "Hiroshima has been attacked by a new type of bomb. The city is in a state of near-total destruction."

Since Mayor Senkichi Awaya had been killed while eating breakfast with his son and granddaughter at the mayoral residence, Field Marshal Shunroku Hata, who was only slightly wounded, took over the administration of the city, and coordinated relief efforts. Many of his staff had been killed or fatally wounded, including a Korean prince of the Joseon Dynasty, Yi U, who was serving as a lieutenant colonel in the Japanese Army. Hata's senior surviving staff officer was the wounded Colonel Kumao Imoto, who acted as his chief of staff. Soldiers from the undamaged Hiroshima Ujina Harbor used Shinyo-class suicide motorboats, intended to repel the American invasion, to collect the wounded and take them down the rivers to the military hospital at Ujina. Trucks and trains brought in relief supplies and evacuated survivors from the city.

Twelve American airmen were imprisoned at the Chugoku Military Police Headquarters, about 1,300 feet (400 m) from the hypocenter of the blast. Most died instantly, although two were reported to have been executed by their captors, and two prisoners badly injured by the bombing were left next to the Aioi Bridge by the Kempei Tai, where they were stoned to death. Eight U.S. prisoners of war killed as part of the medical experiments program at Kyushu University were falsely reported by Japanese authorities as having been killed in the atomic blast as part of an attempted cover up.

Japanese realization of the bombing


Hiroshima before the bombing


Hiroshima after the bombing and firestorm

The Tokyo control operator of the Japan Broadcasting Corporation noticed that the Hiroshima station had gone off the air. He tried to re-establish his program by using another telephone line, but it too had failed. About 20 minutes later the Tokyo railroad telegraph center realized that the main line telegraph had stopped working just north of Hiroshima. From some small railway stops within 16 km (10 mi) of the city came unofficial and confused reports of a terrible explosion in Hiroshima. All these reports were transmitted to the headquarters of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff.

Military bases repeatedly tried to call the Army Control Station in Hiroshima. The complete silence from that city puzzled the General Staff; they knew that no large enemy raid had occurred and that no sizable store of explosives was in Hiroshima at that time. A young officer was instructed to fly immediately to Hiroshima, to land, survey the damage, and return to Tokyo with reliable information for the staff. It was felt that nothing serious had taken place and that the explosion was just a rumor.

The staff officer went to the airport and took off for the southwest. After flying for about three hours, while still nearly 160 km (100 mi) from Hiroshima, he and his pilot saw a great cloud of smoke from the bomb. After circling the city to survey the damage they landed south of the city, where the staff officer, after reporting to Tokyo, began to organize relief measures. Tokyo's first indication that the city had been destroyed by a new type of bomb came from President Truman's announcement of the strike, sixteen hours later.

</snip>


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Arrow 15 replies Author Time Post
Reply 74 Years Ago Today; Little Boy forever changes life on Earth (Original post)
Dennis Donovan Aug 6 OP
melm00se Aug 6 #1
BruceWane Aug 6 #5
SharonAnn Aug 6 #8
melm00se Aug 6 #12
BruceWane Aug 6 #6
LanternWaste Aug 6 #10
melm00se Aug 6 #13
dalton99a Aug 6 #2
hunter Aug 6 #7
Delphinus Aug 6 #3
Hoyt Aug 6 #4
Codeine Aug 6 #9
MicaelS Aug 6 #11
elocs Aug 6 #14
mahatmakanejeeves Aug 7 #15

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Aug 6, 2019, 09:49 AM

1. The count down

for the annual self flagellation begins now.

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Response to melm00se (Reply #1)

Tue Aug 6, 2019, 10:27 AM

5. Required reading

Anyone who wants to criticize the use of nuclear weapons by the US against Japan needs to read up on the events that preceded.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were horrific. There's no argument on that.

But a conventional attack on mainland Japan would have been exponentially worse.

Required reading -

The battle of Iwo Jima

And especially the battle of Okinawa

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Response to BruceWane (Reply #5)

Tue Aug 6, 2019, 02:49 PM

8. My father was stationed in Hawaii, preparing for the land invasion of Japan.

He was an MD and expected to be close behind the landing troops.

I was born on August 1st. 5 days before the event.

He was stationed in Japan for a year with the occupation forces after the surrender.

It is hard for me to know what to think about the nuclear bombing of Japan.

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Response to BruceWane (Reply #5)

Tue Aug 6, 2019, 03:52 PM

12. The American casualties

were projected to be bad but the Japanese casualties would have been absolutely horrific with 5-10 million (6 to 12% of the population).

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Response to melm00se (Reply #1)

Tue Aug 6, 2019, 10:36 AM

6. The real lesson learned

If anything, the real lesson learned from Hiroshima and Nagasaki is the danger that fanatical, religious devotion to a political leader leads to. When all government and media resources are dedicated to reinforcing the absolute infallibity of one human, to the point that an entire population was dedicated to fight to the death for the "empire".

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Response to melm00se (Reply #1)

Tue Aug 6, 2019, 02:59 PM

10. Confusing self-flagellation with self-reflection is your conclusion's most fundamental flaw.

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Response to LanternWaste (Reply #10)

Tue Aug 6, 2019, 03:55 PM

13. Every year on this date

there is a always a mix of self-reflection and self-flagellation on DU.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Aug 6, 2019, 09:57 AM

2. Little Boy:





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Response to dalton99a (Reply #2)

Tue Aug 6, 2019, 12:30 PM

7. This uranium gun barrel bomb was incredibly dangerous and expensive...

It was literally a sawed off gun barrel, closed at both ends. There were all sorts of ways such a bomb might go off unintentionally.

The bomb of the future was the plutonium implosion type bomb. These weapons cost less to make, and were not likely to go off if a plane carrying them crashed or the place they were stored was bombed.

The Manhattan Project was huge, scaled to fight a full scale nuclear war with Germany or any other power that threatened the U.S.A., including the Soviet Union. By 1950 the U.S.A. was retiring an inventory of over 100 plutonium bombs of the type that destroyed Nagasaki in favor of new and improved bombs.

The success of the Trinity Test changed everything. Had Japan not surrendered the U.S.A. would have continued to drop atomic bombs on them until they did, or until there was nothing left of them. That's an unsettling fact to believers of the simplistic myth that THE BOMB "saved" American lives. Speculating about alternate earth histories is fun, but it's not reality.

In too many ways the bombing of Nagasaki was a grotesque experiment. A significant fraction of U.S. politicians and military people were amoral genocidal monsters, Doctor Strangelove types, who were eager to see what these plutonium bombs would do to a living city, and saw this as a last minute opportunity to put these bombs to the test. I'm certain Truman knew this but discarded it from his own consideration. Nevertheless a huge amount of data was collected after the war about the impacts of these bombs, and this data directed some of the later experiments in the Nevada desert and South Pacific.

My father-in-law is one of the few people I've met who have witnessed an atomic explosion up close. He was essentially used as a lab rat to discern how U.S. soldiers would fare on an atomic battlefield. Although he was exposed to unacceptable levels of nuclear fallout, he's still living and healthy, unlike many of his fellow soldiers used in these experiments who died early as a consequence.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Aug 6, 2019, 10:00 AM

3. May it never

happen again.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Aug 6, 2019, 10:16 AM

4. . . .

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Aug 6, 2019, 02:53 PM

9. Don't start no shit,

won’t be no shit.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Aug 6, 2019, 03:24 PM

11. My opinion has always been....

That if the bomb has been available 6-12 months sooner, or the war lasted 6-12 months longer, then Berlin would have been the first target. Those on the Left who now condemn the use of the bombs on Japan would not have said a thing about their use on Germany. Their attitude would have been that the dirty Fascists got what they deserved.

The Nazis were executing people faster toward the end of the war in the concentration camps because they had perfected the mechanical means of the Holocaust. How many Jews, Poles, Gypsies, homosexuals and others might have been saved if the war in Europe had ended 6-12 months sooner?

Those scientists who worked on the bomb (many of the Jewish refugees from Hitler) did not seem to develop scruples until it was clear that Germany would no longer be the target. They knew for a fact that Berlin, and its civilians would certainly be the main target. They certainly didn’t have any concerns about German civilians being killed.

And for those who cry moral outrage I see no difference between the fire-bombing of Dresden, Tokyo and other Japanese cities and the atomic bombings. Dead is dead.

The Japanese were just as bad as the Nazis. But too many people weep tears for the “victims" of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as if the Japanese did nothing to start the war in Asia. The Chinese suffered between 20-35 million casualties during the Japanese invasion of China (1937-1945). The Japanese forced Korean women into sexual slavery as “comfort women” in field brothels where the women were forced to sexually service, as many as 70 Japanese soldiers a day. In other words these women were raped 70 times a day for yeasr on end. Everywhere the Japanese conquered, they acted like barbarians toward Allied POWS and civilians. The Japanese beat, starved, tortured and executed men and women. They used living human beings as living test subjects in their infamous biological warfare Unit 731.

People these days find it easy to take some moral high-ground when they are not involved in a war to the knife for the future of civilization. Hindsight is easy.

Finally, I personally think if Truman had not used the bomb out of moral scruples, and Operation Downfall had gone ahead, then America would have suffered terrible casualties. The truth about the bomb would have come out. And I think Truman would have been impeached.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Aug 6, 2019, 04:54 PM

14. Like with guns, nukes don't kill people, people kill people.

Iran and North Korea just want to be a good guy (from their perspective) with a nuke.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Wed Aug 7, 2019, 12:22 PM

15. Harry Truman in 1963 defends his decision on Hiroshima:

Harry Truman in 1963 defends his decision on Hiroshima:


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