:: Wednesday, August 10, 2005 ::
August 9, 1945
History: A lot of focus and remembrance happens regarding Hiroshima this time of year. The first atomic bomb was dropped on that Japanese city at the conclusion of WWII. But a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9th, 1945. Sixty years ago yesterday. 75000 deaths, and a comparable number of injuries were caused when the 3.2m x 1.5m and 4.5ton bomb called Fatman was detonated half a km above the city.
The aircraft I photographed above, a B-29 called the Flying Bockscar , was the bomber that flew the device from Trinian in the Pacific and delivered it to it's target. It is on display at Wright Patterson AirForce Base in one of the huge hangars of the US Air Force Museum. I wasn't expecting to see this particular plane as I was wandering around the non descript, P-51s, and B-52s and Stealth fighters and Spitfires. I just saw a very large shiny metal skinned aircraft and went over to read the plaque. I got a chill after seeing what the plane was and being so close to it.
It is one thing to see an aircraft at an airshow whose whole existance has been to be in airshows or to never engage an enemy. It is completely different to come face to face with something of this magnitude. Something that in an August so long ago, killed so many, changed history and ushered in an atomic age, and was a precurssor to the cold war.
It could be argued the Japanese would have likely surrendered after Hiroshima, and Nagasaki wasn't needed other than to prove the first bomb wasn't only a fluke and there were others waiting if they didn't lay down arms. But one theory that I recall from one of my Strategic Studies courses in university, which I tend to agree with -and am grossly oversimplifying -was that it was really to show the Russians that the US had more than one weapon. This was really a demonstration strike less to do with the Japanese and more to do with the Russians: if they started to get greedy in Europe or elsewhere, the US could stop their advances with something they could not at the time counter. Essentially the Nagasaki attack was the first shot of the cold war, and not the last of WWII.
This plane was not only the symbol of destruction, it was the actual instrument that sealed one war and began the next. You could only get closer the source if you were in Nagasaki, Hiroshima or were standing at the Trinity site.
It is not often that you come face to face with history like this. There was another aircraft there too which I will post another time which had a different albeit similar interest to me, but the Flying Bockscar was something staggering.
:: Mike Wood 08:50 [+] ::