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You are here -> HOME - RETROVILLE - 1945 - In the News - Hiroshima
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Welcome to Retroville! It's 1945!
On August 6, 1954, at 2:45 a.m., Enola Gay, a B-29 Superfortress, part of the 509th Composite Group, took off from Tinian, a North Pacific island in the Marianas (1500 miles south of Japan). The twelve-man crew, including the pilot, Colonel Paul Tibbets, held their breath as the modified plane neared the very end of the runway before becoming airborne.
Hiroshima immediately after the bombing
From the ceiling of the plane, suspended above the decking, was "Little Boy," a ten-foot atomic bomb. "Little Boy" was created using Uranium-235, a radioactive isotope of uranium. After $2 billion worth of research, this particular type of bomb had not yet been tested. Scientists and politicians had urged the government not to warn Japan just in case the bomb failed to detonate properly.

At just past 3:00 a.m., Navy Captian William S. "Deak" Parsons, chief of the Ordnance Division in the Manhattan Project and weaponeer for the Enola Gay, began arming the bomb. Because of Parsons' involvement in the development of the bomb, the task for in-flight arming of the device now fell to him.

There had been four cities chosen as possible targets: Hiroshima, Kokura, Nagasaki, and Niigata. Kyoto had been considered, but dismissed. The four cities were singled-out for this dubious honor because they had remained unscathed during the war.

At 8:15 a.m., the Enola Gay was over its intended target--Hiroshima. The doors were opened and "Little Boy" fell from the plane. At approximately 1,900 feet above the city, the bomb detonated.

Eyewitnesses claimed that the resulting mushroom cloud was "spectacular"." The cloud is estimated to have reached a height of 40,000 feet. Two-thirds of Hiroshima was destroyed instantly. Within three miles of the explosion, 60,000 of the 90,000 buildings were demolished. Clay roof tiles had melted together. Shadows had imprinted on buildings and other hard surfaces. Metal and stone had melted.

Hiroshima's population has been estimated at 350,000; approximately 70,000 died immediately from the explosion and another 70,000 died from radiation within five years. Men, women, children, and soliders all died alike. This mission had not been planned as a strategic military installation bombing, but rather as a message to a government intent on continuing its warring. According to the U.S. War Department, the killing of innocent civilians was determined to be necessary to deliver the intended message.

The mission was considered a success. Plans went forward for the attack on Nagasaki.

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