At 01:45 the B-29 bomber nicknamed “Enola Gay” took off to carry out a unique mission along with five other aircrafts, three for meteorological observation, one with instrumentation and the other with cameras to immortalize the mission. The mission was called “Special Mission 13”. At 06:30 Little Boy bomb was armed and at 06:50 Japan was in sight of the bomber. Hiroshima was the primary target with Kokura and Nagasaki as alternative targets if the primary was not possible. At 07:30 it was decided that the final objective would be Hiroshima, since the weather conditions were good. At 08:09 Hiroshima appeared before Enola Gay and at 08:14.17 the Aioi bridge, chosen as the launch area, appeared in the bombsight cross-hairs. Then, the automatic release sequence was activated and finally at 08: 15.17, the bomb was released, descending irrevocably at a speed of 1,206 km/h to explode 44.4 seconds later.
After dropping the bomb, Enola Gay left the place and approximately one minute after the launch, when it was about 19 km away, it received the impact of a shock wave coming out from the fireball. A few seconds later, the bomber received a second shock wave reflected from the ground. The aircraft continued to see the “mushroom cloud” generated by the explosion until 09:41 when it was already 599 km away from Hiroshima. The “mushroom cloud” reached 12,000 meters of altitude. This bomber also participated in the mission to bomb Nagasaki with the second nuclear bomb designated as “Fat Man“, this time as a weather reconnaissance aircraft.
The Little Boy bomb was a 4,400 kg free-fall bomb armed with a nuclear device made up of 64.1 kg of 80% enriched uranium-235. The bomb detonated through a “gun” type trigger that launched a sub-critical mass of uranium-235 against another of the same composition to convert both masses into critical ones and generate free neutrons to unleash a powerful chain reaction, or fission, that releases an incredible amount of energy. The chain reaction did not last more than one microsecond (0.000001 s) during which an energy equivalent to 15,000,000 kg of TNT explosive (15 kilotons) was released. It should be noted that despite such spectacular power, the bomb was considered “very inefficient” since only 1.7% of the fissile material was used in the explosion.
That Monday morning, some witnesses claimed to have seen a single silver aircraft fly over the city at a very high altitude, almost imperceptible to the eye except for a few flashes emitted by its bright airframe. Suddenly and without prior warning, everything was illuminated with the intensity of “1000 suns” and then an extremely loud explosion, as had never been heard, was felt throughout the city and up to 60 km away. It is estimated that temperatures of 6,000 Cº were reached at the ground zero, which set the air on fire and generated a fireball of about 370 meters in diameter. The shock wave destroyed all crystals within a radius of 16 km and everything was reduced to dust within a radius of 1.6 km, equivalent to about 2.5 km2, around the ground zero. As a result of the explosion, hundreds of fires were generated, that led to a “firestorm” that devastated everything within a radius of 3 km around ground zero. The destroyed urban area was about 12 km2.
Little Boy‘s victims died from 3 main causes, by the explosion itself, by the subsequent fire and finally by radiation. The explosion killed no fewer than 66,000 people and destroyed 70% of all buildings, leaving another 6 or 7% seriously damaged. The number of people who perished during the terrible firestorm (on the image) is incalculable, but it could easily be a few thousand more. Finally, it is known that due to radiation between 2,000 and 3,000 people died in the first 24 hours after the explosion. The people who died from radiation in the medium and long term are again incalculable, but the total number of deaths caused by the effects of the explosion until the end of 1945 was 140,000. To these numbers should be added more than 100,000 wounded, most of them serious.
Hiroshima had an estimated population of about 345,000 people and was a city with industrial and military importance, since numerous military units were in the city and its surroundings. There were the General Headquarters of the Field Marshal Shunroku Hata that was in command of the defense of the southern area of Japan and had under his command about 400,000 troops. There were also the Headquarters of other divisions and units and it was estimated that there were about 40,000 Japanese military personnel in the city. Hiroshima had a large port and was an important communications hub, it also had a good number of factories that manufactured various military equipment.
Although there were some modern reinforced concrete constructions, built to withstand earthquakes, most of the city was made up of wooden constructions, with the consequent danger of fire. However, Hiroshima had not received any air raid and was practically unscathed, since it did not have aircraft factories, it was not considered a major target for the bombings. The inhabitants did not understand very well why they were not attacked, which began to awaken some theories in this regard, which would end up erased at a stroke on August 6.
Much has been told about whether or not it was necessary to drop this bomb on Japan, and if the conditions in which the country was at this time are analyzed, surely it would not have been necessary. The choice of Hiroshima as the target for the first nuclear bomb in history, has in part some justification from the Military point of view, since there were numerous military units deployed there and it had an important port. But the problem arises when it is analyzed whether its use by the US was legitimate and whether it is morally acceptable, even during a war that was practically won. According to a report made by American experts after the launch of Little Boy, it was concluded that the same destructive effect could have been achieved with about 2,100 tons of conventional bombs. Some 400 tons of high-explosive bombs, 500 tons of anti-personnel fragmentation bombs and 1,200 tons of incendiary bombs would have had to be combined. This amount of explosive could have been launched by 220 B-29 bombers. The image shows a totally devastated city, what do you think it is, Hiroshima, Nagasaki ….?. The answer is … Tokyo. This is how the city was after a series of incendiary bombings, do you find any difference with the cities bombed with nuclear weapons?.
US Brigadier General Carter W. Clark, head of the decryption service (MAGIC) in 1945, stated the following in an interview with Forrest Pogue in 1959: “… only with the rapid sinking of his merchant marine, (referring to the Japanese), and with the famine we had put the Japanese in a miserable situation, and although it was not necessary, and we knew it was not necessary, and they knew that we knew it was not necessary, we used them as an object to experience two atomic bombs”. On the other hand Dwight D. Eisenhower upon learning on July 20 and 27, 1945 from Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson that the preparations for the nuclear bombardment were finished, alleged the following: “… Japan is already defeated and the launch of the atomic bomb is totally useless, and secondly, our country should not impact world public opinion with the use of a weapon, which in my opinion, is no longer necessarily necessary to save the lives of Americans”.
In fact, in certain American circles there was a desire to test the new weaponry and also to demonstrating American superiority. In addition, the event was used to send a buried message to the Soviet Union now that the end of the War was near. For several weeks, it was beginning to be transmitted to the American public opinion that Japan would never surrender and incidentally it was trying to dehumanize its entire population, perhaps in view of what was to come. Colonel Harry F. Cunningham published an article in the 5th AAF magazine “Weekly Intelligence Review No. 86, July 15-21, 1945” which read as follows: “… the entire Japanese population was properly a military target, we will seek out and destroy the enemy, he or she, wherever it is, in the greatest number possible and in the shortest time possible. For us, THERE ARE NO CIVILIANS IN JAPAN”.
Actually, it is more than likely that the main reason for the launch of “the bomb” was that it was ready, that simple. Presumably nobody spends nearly two billion dollars and years of study, experimentation and effort for nothing. That is to say, weapons are only used for one thing, to wage war, and the truth is that it was quite stupid to think that if someone had something superior to the enemy, they would not use it to defeat them. President Truman on August 11, 1945 in a conversation with the Presbyterian minister and ecumenical leader Samuel McCrea Cavert said the following: “… no one is affected more by the use of atomic bombs than me, but I am more affected by the unjustified attack to Pearl Harbor and the murder of our prisoners of war. The only language they seem to understand is the one we used in bombing them”. This “justification” could also be analyzed and see to what extent the attack on Pearl Harbor was “unjustified” and above all “infamous”, as the politicians were tired of saying, but this is not the place. History ends up putting things in their place fortunately, although this does not serve to restore the lives of the dead or repair the damage caused.
Finally, it is also noteworthy, for the absurdity and cynicism, in my humble opinion, the position of certain scientists, without whom the atomic bomb would not have been possible. After the launch of Little Boy and Fat Man, a large group of scientists who had participated in the Manhattan Project (Trinity test) published in 1946 a book of essays entitled “One World or None: A Report to the Public on the Full Meaning of the Atomic Bomb”. This book contained essays by Leo Szilárd, Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, and many other prominent scientists. Apparently, they were suddenly aware of what they had done, and they pretended that no one else would use their discoveries to wage war. Too late, right?. More exactly 200,000 dead late. What did these scientists think that the military would do with their discoveries made during the development of a military program, paid for with secret military funds?. Worse still was the position of Robert Oppenheimer, who after the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki went to Washington on August 17 to express “his revulsion and his wish to see nuclear weapons banned” !!!!. Can anyone understand him?. Maybe if this scientist had so many scruples a few years before, he would not have so many regrets later.

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