The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima - 6th August 1945
Date: Monday, August 06 @ 01:15:00 MDT
Codename "Little Boy", the first atomic weapon used in war was dropped on Hiroshima from the B-29 Enola Gay, on this day August 6th 1945. This and the bombing of the city of Nagasaki three days later effectively brought an end to WW2. |Read More|
Released at 08:15 local time (11:15 GMT), the bomb took 57 seconds to fall from the aircraft to the detonation height 600 meters above the city, where it exploded with the force of approximately 15,000 tons of TNT. The temperatures directly beneath the fireball were instantaneously raised to approximately 4000c vaporising anyone exposed.
Birds burst into flames mid-flight, and combustible materials such as paper ignited as far away as 2km from ground zero. The white light acted as a giant flashbulb, burning the dark patterns of clothing onto skin and the shadows of bodies onto walls.
Total destruction extended to 1.6 km, with resulting fires across 13 kmē. The Blast and heat directly killed an estimated 70,000 people, destroyed approximately 69% of the city's buildings and severely damaged another 6.6%. In the following months, an estimated 60,000 more people died from their injuries, and hundreds more from radiation.
Japan did not respond to further calls for their surrender, and three days later the atomic bomb was used again on the city of Nagasaki, followed shortly by their capitulation and the end of World War II.
The decision use nuclear weapons against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remains a highly controversial issue to this day, and is one that belies simple analysis. However some of the following factors should be considered:-
The invasion of Japan would have without doubt resulted in massive casualties on both sides as the Japanese had shown their resolve to defend their land without mercy or quarter, demonstrated by the massive loss of life at the battle of Iwo Jima.
Truman did not want to be in a position after the war where he had to explain why he had a means to end the war swiftly but did not use it, especially one that had cost such a vast amount of money ($23billion USD 2007 adjusted).
There was undeniably a strong hatred of the Japanese at that time, due in no small part to Japan's wartime conduct, with the use of chemical and biological weapons, appalling ill treatment of POW's and other war crimes.
The atomic bombings were truly horrific and caused massive loss of life but need to be considered in the context of the ongoing campaign by the US Strategic Air Command led by Curtis LeMay, to bomb Japan into submission with conventional ordnance.
Fleets of B-29s dropped thousands of incendiary bombs creating fire storms that would destroy entire cities in a night. One such attack on Tokyo turned the city into a solid sheet of fire destroying 16 square miles and incinerating over 100,000 men women and children.
By late summer almost a hundred Japanese cities had been reduced to ashes. However both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were kept "off limits", so that the full effects of the new bomb could be observed on "virgin" targets.
Another highly influential factor was that the USSR had just declared war on Japan. It was in the US's best interest to finish the war quickly so as to exclude the Soviets the from post-war land negotiations. The Soviets also made no secret of the fact that they wished to bring Communism to the rest of Europe. Demonstrating both the power of this weapon, and the US's resolve to use it was probably instrumental in preventing their advance into the rest of Europe.
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The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima in 1945