73 Years Ago Today

Discussion in 'In the News' started by Frank Sanoica, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    I just realized this: 73 years ago today, a small group of fearless young men within the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay successfully delivered the world's 2nd. atomic bomb, during WW-II, devastating the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The first was a test-firing in NM. The intricacies of that delivery physically are beyond my ability to understand completely.

    First, Capt. William Parsons, Mission Commander, allowed take-off from Tinian Island with the bomb unarmed, against general orders. He armed the bomb in flight, after a successful takeoff.

    Second, one crew member asked of Pilot Paul Tibbets, if they were "Splitting atoms today"? Tibbets answered, "Something like that".

    Third, First Lieutenant Jacob Beser as Radar Operator, was solely responsible for setting in motion the detonation of the bomb using radar. He was the only one to fly both Hiroshima and Nagasaki flights.

    Fourth, as the bomb fell below the Enola Gay, it pulled with it a very long length of wire unrolling off a spool in the plane. The final pull upon the end of the wire-pull jerked a connection loose from the bomb, allowing the final arming to take place. Radar signal detonated the bomb 1870 feet + or - above the ground.

    Fifth, the Enola Gay experienced a severe shock wave as the bomb's initial detonation took place, followed shortly after by another shock wave, reflected upwards from the ground. Initially, the crew thought they were under antiaircraft fire. In reality, Japan had no antiaircraft capability able to reach 30,000 feet altitude.

    Sixth, looking downward, copilot Robert Lewis exclaimed loudly, "Look at that son of a bitch go!". He was immediately admonished by Tibbets, who had earlier warned them to watch their language, as it was all being recorded for posterity.

    Seventh, upon return to Tinian Island, Enola Gay was received back amongst accolades and celebration, which included presence of the Press. No longer was the nature of the mission, nor the weapon used, to be guarded secretly.

    I believe Jacob Beser was the last crew member to pass away, during the 2000's. These were young men entrusted to carry out one mission capable of forcing the war's end, though at the time they did not know it, save for Paul Tibbets. His story of involvement is fully told in Rhodes's wonderful book, "The Making of the Atomic Bomb".

    EDIT: Just how intense had the bombing of Japan been can be imagined by the fact that the 2nd. atomic bombiong raid, scheduled to hit the city of Kokura, was diverted to Nagasaki due to heavy smoke obscuring Kokura due to the bombing the previous day of Yahata by 224 B-29s!
     
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  2. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Very Well-Known Member
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    @Frank, that's almost a perfect retelling of what happened!

    '"Little Boy" detonated at approximately 8 AM, Japan time at about 1900 feet.

    Interestingly, only about 2% of the 140 pounds of weapons-grade U-235 fissioned, because the mass became critical even before the 2 subcritical masses assembled, causing the majority of the U-235 to be vaporized before the main explosion.

    This was called "predetonation", even though the "Bullet" portion of the Uranium was approaching the "Target" portion at 1000FPS within a 6 ft. barrel!

    This is why I find this whole story, from Hahn/Strassman splitting the Uranium atom in Germany in 1938 until the Manhattan Project and Alamogordo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki to be so exciting!

    Hal
     
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  3. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Hal Pollner
    I personally believe that one of the pivotal reasons explaining why the first test explosion was conducted before the planned invasion of Japan was the constant overburdening by General Groves, ever-pressing for positive results. The majority of scientists moved slowly and cautiously, questioning even after the test blast, whether the device should be used in actual warfare.

    In retrospect, I feel it made little difference. Tokyo had been obliterated by fire-bombings which killed more people than either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. The obliteration of an entire city by only one bomb, instead of a thousand incendiaries, was something else to consider more seriously. Emporer Hirohito saw this clearly but feared to act quickly, as requested by President Truman. Thus, the 2nd. bomb was used, with politically-charged threats of more to follow; this brought about, finally, capitulation.

    Should the "bomb" not have been used? Should a "demonstration" blast have been conducted near the Japanese homeland? Maybe. But what if it fizzled? The scientists were, after all, not supremely certain of success.

    Did the "A-bomb" end the war? Most certainly. Was it's use acceptable? Depends on who you talk to. Ask a survivor of the Bataan Death March, for example. Had use of the bomb and it's existence been withheld, the homeland invaded, and many more killed on both sides, to eventually end the skirmish, if followed through instead, been the better course? No, because by then, the bomb's "secrets" were no more.

    Frank
     
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  4. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Very Well-Known Member
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    Flawlessly reported, @Frank!

    This was the Bikini Atoll test in July 1946. A "Fat Man" type bomb was detonated 90 feet under water.

    Hal
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  5. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Hal Pollner
    Surrounding the blast may be seen the numerous warships being tested for affects from the blast. Various animals were on some of the ships. The blast actually raised a giant "slug" of water hundreds of feet in diameter and 90 feet high (deep) up into the air, something like a million tons of water! This was exertion of power and energy the likes of which never before seen.
    Frank
     
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