Air History

The End of World War II

Enola Gay
This is the B-29 bomber ENOLA GAY resting on the tarmac of the South Pacific Island of Tinian just prior to dropping the Atom Bomb on Hiroshima Aug. 6, 1945. Another B-29 bomber BOCKSCAR dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki on Aug. 9. 1945. The Japanese surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945.

Enola Gay
ENOLA GAY from slightly different angle.

Enola Gay Crew
Some of the crew of the ENOLA GAY.
l-r Maj. Thomas W. Ferebee: bombardier
Col. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr.: pilot
Cpt. Theodore J. Van Kirk: navigator
Cpt. Robert Lewis: officer crew

Little Boy
"Little Boy" the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.

Little Boy, 10 feet long and 28 inches in diameter, was similar to a gun in which a "bullet" made of uranium 235 was fired into a target also of uranium 235. When the two collided, a supercritical mass was attained, and a chain reaction and explosion would occur. No preliminary firing tests were made.


BOCKSCAR, The Bomber that Ended World War II

Bockscar
This is the Nagasaki mission bomber BOCKSCAR at the USAF Museum.

The 509th's Operations Order No. 39 of August 8, 1945, assigned Major Charles W. Sweeney, commanding officer of the 393rd Squadron, as the pilot in command of aircraft No. 297, nicknamed Bockscar. Sweeney's crew normally had 10 men. Three others were added: Lt. Cmdr. Frederick L. Ashworth, U.S. Navy, the weaponeer in charge of the bomb; his assistant, Lieutenant Phillip M. Barnes; and the radar-countermeasures specialist, Lieutenant Jacob Beser. Captain Charles D. Albury was the copilot; Lieutenant Frederick J. Olivi, a third pilot; Captain James F. Van Pelt, Jr., navigator; Captain Kermit Beahan, bombardier; Staff Sgt. Abe M. Spitzer, radioman; Staff Sgt. Edward K. Buckley, radar operator; Staff Sgt. Albert T. DeHart, central fire control gunner; Master Sgt. John D. Kuharek, flight engineer; and Staff Sgt. Raymond G. Gallagher, mechanic/gunner.

Beser was the only man who flew on both atomic bomb missions as a member of the crew of the strike aircraft. Many of the others in the formation, including Sweeney, had flown the other aircraft on the Hiroshima flight.

Fat Man
"Fat Man" the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki.

Fat Man measured 10 feet 8 inches long and 5 feet in diameter. It contained a sphere of plutonium. Conventional explosives surrounding the plutonium were fired so that the plutonium was compressed into a supercritical mass, producing a chain reaction and an explosion. Fat Man was tested in the New Mexico desert, near Alamogordo, on July 16, 1945. A blinding explosion, the world's first nuclear blast, was equivalent to 18,600 tons of TNT. By the time the more complicated Fat Man had been tested, most of Little Boy's elements were already en route to Tinian.

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