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Starring: Gregory Harrison, Billy Crystal, Kim Darby, Patrick Duffy. 

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Enola Gay

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Enola Gay, the B-29bomber that was used by the United StatesAugust 6, 1945, to drop an atomic bombHiroshima, Japan, the first time the explosive device had been used on an enemy target. The aircraft was named after the mother of pilot Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr.

The B-29 (also called Superfortress) was a four-engine heavy bomber that was built by Boeing. It was first flown in 1942 and soon became popular in the Pacific theatre during World War II. In 1944 the B-29 was selected to carry the atomic bomb, and a number of the aircraft subsequently underwent various modifications, such as reinforcements of the bomb bay. That year Lieutenant Colonel Tibbets, who was one of the most experienced B-29 pilots, was tasked with assembling and training a crew. The modified B-29s were later flown to the U.S. military base on Tinian, one of the Mariana Islands.

On July 16, 1945, the United States successfully tested an atomic bomb. Pres. Harry S. Truman was informed of the development while attending the Potsdam Conference, and he in turn told Soviet leader Joseph Stalin that the United States had “a new weapon of unusual destructive force.” On July 26 the Allied leaders called for Japan to unconditionally surrender or face “prompt and utter destruction.” After Japan ignored the demand, the decision was made to bomb Hiroshima.

At approximately 2:45 am on August 6, 1945, Tibbets—who was now a full colonel—and a crew of 11 took off from Tinian island carrying a uranium bomb that was known as “Little Boy.” The Enola Gay—Tibbets had a maintenance man paint that name on the aircraft’s nose shortly before takeoff—was accompanied by various other planes. At 8:15 am, the bomb was released over Hiroshima. While some 1,900 feet (580 metres) above the city, Little Boy exploded, killing tens of thousands and causing widespread destruction. Tibbets flew the Enola Gay back to Tinian, where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Three days later the Enola Gay conducted weather reconnaissance in the lead-up to the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan. Japan officially surrendered on September 2, 1945.

The Enola Gay remained in service for several years before being given to the Smithsonian Institution on July 3, 1949. It was later disassembled and stored in Maryland. In 1984 work began on restoring the aircraft, which was in dire need of repair. Exposure to the elements had damaged the plane, and it had been vandalized. In addition, birds had built nests in various compartments. The project ultimately spanned some 20 years. In 1995 a portion of the plane served as the centrepiece of a controversial exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, D.C. The exhibit had originally been scheduled to include artifacts from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and highlight the debate over the decision to use the bomb. Amid fierce opposition, however, the original plans were canceled, and a much scaled-back version was staged. In 2003 the fully restored Enola Gay was put on display at the NASM’s Steven F. Udar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

Enola Gay

The Crew of the Enola Gay on Dropping the Atomic Bomb

On August 6, 1945, the B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. Twelve men were on that flight. Some chose to keep a low profile and others spoke out about their place in history. Almost all had something to say after the war.

The 509th Composite Group was formed by the U.S. Army Air Force to deliver and deploy the first atomic bombs during World War II. The group was segregated from the rest of the military and trained in secret. Even those in the group only knew as much as they needed to know in order to perform their duties. The group deployed to Tinian in 1945 with 15 B-29 bombers, flight crews, ground crews, and other personnel, a total of about 1770 men. The mission to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan (special mission 13) involved seven planes, but the one we remember was the Enola Gay.

The Crew of the Enola Gay on Dropping the Atomic Bomb

Enola Gay: The Men, the Mission, the Atomic Bomb

Enola Gay: The Men, The Mission, The Atomic Bomb is a 1980 American made-for-television historical drama film about the B-29 mission that dropped the atomic bombHiroshima, Japan at the end of World War II.

Enola Gay: The Men, the Mission, the Atomic Bomb

Enola Gay: The Men, the Mission, the Atomic Bomb ★★ 1980

Based on the best-selling book by Gordon Thomas and Max Gordon Witts, this drama tells the story of the airmen aboard the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb. Details the events during WWII leading up to the decision to bomb Hiroshima and the concerns of the crew assigned the task.

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Enola Gay erscheint nur gek�rzt auf DVD im Dezember 2020

Bomber des Todes werfen weiterhin blo� Cut-Material ab

Der US-TV-Film Enola Gay (1980 – OT: Enola Gay: The Men, the Mission, the Atomic Bomb) mit Billy Crystal, Kim Darby, Patrick Duffy u. v. m. zeigt die Mission um den Atombombenabwurf auf Hiroshima im August 1945 und dessen Folgen. Dabei kommt der Kriegsfilm auf eine Spielzeit von über 2,5 Stunden und wartet mit einer Mischung aus Farb- sowie Schwaz-Weiß-Szenen auf.

Enola Gay wurde lediglich geschnitten mit FSK 16 auf VHS-Kassette veröffentlicht. Hierbei wurde der Titelzusatz Bomber des Todes genutzt. Die gekürzte Fassung kommt auf lediglich 1,5 Stunden Laufzeit. Am 03. Dezember 2020 bringt Polar Film den TV-Film erstmals auf DVD heraus. Leider handelt es sich auch hierbei bloß um die die Cut-Fassung.

What Happened to the After It Dropped the Atomic Bomb

After the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945, “a city died, and 70,000 of its inhabitants.” The B-29 bomber stayed airborne, hovering above a terrifying mushroom cloud.

This “dreadful instant,” as TIME once put it, helped speed the end of World War II, launched the atomic age and began an ethical debate over the decision to use nuclear weapons that has continued for more than 70 years — and that has extended to questions about the plane itself.

The Enola Gay is a B-29 Superfortress, which pilot Paul Tibbets named after his mother, and which had been stripped of everything but the necessities, so as to be thousands of pounds lighter than an ordinary plane of that make. In 1945, it was given an important task. “It was just like any other mission: some people are reading books, some are taking naps. When the bomb left the airplane, the plane jumped because you released 10,000 lbs.,” Theodore Van Kirk, the plane’s navigator, later recalled. “Immediately [Tibbets] took the airplane to a 180° turn. We lost 2,000 ft. on the turn and ran away as fast as we could. Then it exploded. All we saw in the airplane was a bright flash. Shortly after that, the first shock wave hit us, and the plane snapped all over.”

The plane Tinian Island, from which it had come. A few days later, on Aug. 9, the U.S. dropped another atomic bomb, this time on Nagasaki. While it did not drop the bomb on Nagasaki, the Enola Gay did take flight to get data on the weather in the lead-up to the second strike on Japan.

After the war, the airplane took flight a few more times. In the aftermath of World War II, the Army Air Forces flew the Enola Gay during an atomic test program in the Pacific; it was then delivered to be stored in an airfield in Arizona before being flown to Illinois and transferred to the Smithsonian in July 1949. But even under the custody of the museum, the Enola Gay remained at an air force base in Texas.

It took its last flight in 1953, arriving on Dec. 2 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. As the Smithsonian recounts, it stayed there until August of 1960, until preservationists grew worried that the decay of the historic artifact would reach a point of no return if it stayed outside much longer. Smithsonian staffers took the plane apart into smaller pieces and moved it inside.

The giant silver bomber roared along the runway on Tinian Island in the darkness, passing the firetrucks and ambulances parked every 50 feet, struggling to pick up speed.

“Dimples Eight Two” weighed 150,000 pounds, and with fuel for the long flight to Hiroshima, 12 men on board, and a five-ton uranium bomb in the bay, the B-29 was 15,000 pounds overweight.

The pilot, Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., 30, had handpicked the airplane on the assembly line in Nebraska three months before and had just had his mother’s name, “Enola Gay,” painted in black letters on the nose.

As the plane rumbled down the airstrip at over 100 mph, he had his lucky cigarette case with him in one pocket, and a box containing 12 cyanide capsules in another.

On Aug. 6, 1945, 75 years ago Thursday, no one was sure how Special Bombing Mission No. 13, the world’s first atomic attack, would go.

Would it end in disaster for the crew in Japan? Eight downed American airmen had been beheaded by the Japanese a few weeks before. Would it end in the obliteration of Hiroshima? Would the overweight airplane with the crazy call sign even get off the runway? Would the crew have need for the cyanide?

Two other B-29s, the “Great Artiste” and “Necessary Evil,” were supposed to go along to take pictures and record data.

Fifteen hundred miles to the north-northwest, under a waning crescent moon, lay a 400-year-old Japanese city most Americans probably had never heard of but whose name was about to be etched into the pages of history.

It was an important enemy military site with a wartime population about 280,000, according to the historians Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts.

Almost half of them were about to be incinerated, crushed, and irradiated by the crude atomic weapon named “Little Boy” that the Enola Gay carried.

Tens of thousands more would die the same way at Nagasaki a few days later, and the world would subsequently be hearing about megatons, mutual assured destruction, proliferation, nuclear winter, meltdowns and dirty bombs.

It would be the start of a frightful era of weapons that could defy control and menace civilization.

But as “Dimples Eight Two” picked up speed that morning, its mission was born of its time: deliver a blow that the United States hoped might finally end the global butchery of World War II. (The war in Europe had ended in May.)

This week, commemorations are scheduled across the country, with socially distanced candlelight vigils and the tolling of bells, and because of the covid-19, ceremonies and remembrances have moved online.

The Enola Gay, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, is seen on display July 29, 2020, at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

One of the Enola Gay’s four engines. (Matt McLain/The Washington Post)

Enola Gay, Hiroshima Mission

Capt. Robert A. Lewis. Co-pilot and aircraft commander.

1LT Jacob Beser. Radar countermeasures. Only person to fly on the strike plane on both bombing missions.

Enola Gay, Nagasaki Mission

Sgt. Anthony D. Capua, Jr. Assistant engineer/scanner.

Regularly Assigned Plane Crews

The crews for Straight Flush, Full House, and Jabit III flew in their regularly assigned planes for the atomic bombing missions, but the crews regularly assigned to the Enola Gay, Bockscar, The Great Artiste, Necessary Evil, Laggin‘ Dragon, and Up an‘ Atom flew in different planes for the missions.

Enola Gay, Regular Crew (Crew B-9)


Frederick Ashworth with the Enola Gay. Courtesy of the Joseph Papalia Collection.

Fred Olivi in Bockscar. Courtesy of the Joseph Papalia Collection.

Francis Birch and Norman Ramsey number Little Boy L-11

Little Boy on Tinian Island before being loaded onto the Enola Gay

Deak Parsons supervises loading of Little Boy onto the Enola Gay

Men aboard the Enola Gay during the Hiroshima Mission. Courtesy of Scott Muselin.

Men aboard the Bockscar during the Nagasaki Mission. Courtesy of Scott Muselin.

Related Research Articles

The Enola Gay participated in the second atomic attack as the weather reconnaissance aircraft for the primary target of Kokura. Clouds and drifting smoke resulted in a secondary target, Nagasaki, being bombed instead.

when it dropped Little Boy, the first of two atomic bombs used in warfare, on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

The Great Artiste was a U.S. Army Air Forces Silverplate B-29 bomber, assigned to the 393d Bomb Squadron, 509th Composite Group. The aircraft was named for its bombardier, Captain Kermit Beahan, in reference to his bombing talents. It flew 12 training and practice missions in which it bombed Japanese-held Pacific islands and dropped pumpkin bombs on targets in Japan. It was the only aircraft to participate in both the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, albeit as an observation aircraft on each mission.

was an officer in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II and the pilot who flew Bockscar carrying the Fat Man atomic bomb to the Japanese city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Separating from active duty at the end of World War II, he later became an officer in the Massachusetts Air National Guard as the Army Air Forces transitioned to an independent United States Air Force, eventually rising to the rank of major general.

, which dropped the first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945.

, was a section of the Manhattan Project which assisted in delivering the first nuclear weapons in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

, which dropped the atomic bomb, „Little Boy“, on Hiroshima in 1945.

The was a unit of the United States Army Air Forces created during World War II and tasked with the operational deployment of nuclear weapons. It conducted the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945.

is a British producer, director and author of Canadian origin.

Above and Beyond is a 1952 American World War II film about Lt. Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., the pilot of the aircraft that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in August 1945.

The by the United States Army Air Forces took place as part of the air raids on Japan during the closing months of the war.

Top Secret was the name of a Boeing B-29 Superfortress modified to carry the atomic bomb in World War II. It served with the Army Air Forces and United States Air Force from 1945 until 1954.

when the Fat Man bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. He was the only person to have served as a strike crew member of both of the 1945 atomic bomb missions.

The Beginning or the End is a 1947 American docudrama film about the development of the atomic bomb in World War II, directed by Norman Taurog, starring Brian Donlevy, Robert Walker, and Tom Drake, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film dramatizes the creation of the atomic bomb in the Manhattan Project and the bombing of Hiroshima.

Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress bomber which dropped the atomic bomb Little Boy on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945.

during the mission that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. The bombing of Nagasaki killed an estimated 40,000 people instantly, and led to Japan’s unconditional surrender on August 14, 1945, ending World War II.

Technical Sergeant during the historic bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. Facing the rear of the B-29, his vantage point made him the first man to witness the cataclysmic growth of the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima.

The is a USAAF B-29 Superfortress, that dropped Little Boy, the first atomic bomb used in warfare, on Hiroshima in Japan during WWII

Recent reviews

Interesting and well made for TV feature on the dropping of the first atomic bomb by the Enola Gay, the film for what it is a well made feature that manages to be a well thought out feature, but due to its limitation, it never does realize its potential. Obviously the film does show its constraints due to the fact that it’s a TV production. It would have been interesting to see a film dealing with this particular subject that had a bigger budget, as there could have been more ground covered throughout the film. This take on the Hiroshima Bombing is pretty impressive considering that the budget was constraint, and the director did what he could with its limited…

Thank you!

By the time the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan approached, the Smithsonian had already spent nearly a decade restoring the plane for exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. But when the nearly 600-page proposal for the exhibit was seen by Air Force veterans, the anniversary started a new round of controversy over the plane, as TIME explained in 1994:

The display, say the vets, is tilted against the U.S., portraying it as an unfeeling aggressor, while paying an inordinate amount of attention to Japanese suffering. Too little is made of Tokyo’s atrocities, the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor or the recalcitrance of Japan’s military leaders in the late stages of the war — the catalyst for the deployment of atomic weapons. John T. Correll, editor in chief of Air Force Magazine, noted that in the first draft there were 49 photos of Japanese casualties, against only three photos of American casualties. By his count there were four pages of text on Japanese atrocities, while there were 79 pages devoted to Japanese casualties and the civilian suffering, from not only the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki but also conventional B-29 bombing. The Committee for the Restoration and Display of the Enola Gay now has 9,000 signatures of protest. The Air Force Association claims the proposed exhibition is “a slap in the face to all Americans who fought in World War II” and “treats Japan and the U.S. as if their participation in the war were morally equivalent.”

Politicians are getting in on the action. A few weeks ago, Kansas Senator Nancy Kassebaum fired off a letter to Robert McCormick Adams, secretary of the Smithsonian. She called the proposal “a travesty” and suggested that “the famed B-29 be displayed with understanding and pride in another museum. Any one of three Kansas museums.”

Adams, who is leaving his job after 10 relatively controversy-free years, sent back a three-page answer stiffly turning down her request for the Enola Gay. The proposed script, he says, was in flux, and would be “objective,” treat U.S. airmen as “skilled, brave, loyal” and would not make a judgment on “the morality of the decision [to drop the bomb].”

Meanwhile curators Tom Crouch and Michael Neufeld, who are responsible for the content of the display, deny accusations of political correctness. Crouch claims that the critics have a “reluctance to really tell the whole story. They want to stop the story when the bomb leaves the bomb bay.” Crouch and Neufeld’s proposed display includes a “Ground Zero” section, described as the emotional center of the gallery. Among the sights: charred bodies in the rubble, the ruins of a Shinto shrine, a heat-fused rosary, items belonging to dead schoolchildren. The curators have proposed a PARENTAL DISCRETION sign for the show.

The veterans, for their part, say they are well aware of the grim nature of the subject. They are not asking for a whitewash. “Nobody is looking for glorification,” says Correll. “Just be fair. Tell both sides.”

Eventually, the criticism from veterans, Congress and others resulted in major changes to the exhibition. “[The show] will no longer include a long section on the postwar nuclear race that veterans groups and members of Congress had criticized. The critics said that the discussion did not belong in the exhibit and was part of a politically loaded message that the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan began a dark chapter in human history,” the New York Times reported. That version of the exhibition opened in 1995, displaying more than half of the plane, the restoration of which was still unfinished.

But the exhibition proved popular. When it closed in 1998, about four million people had visited it, according to a report‘s Correll — the most ever to visit an Air and Space Museum special exhibition to that point.

It would take until 2003 for the full plane to be displayed, at the Air and Space Museum’s location in Chantilly, Va. That opening again provoked protest, but it can still be seen there.

And as long as it is on display, the questions it raises are likely to continue — after all, they have been with the Enola Gay since it first became a household name.

Even on board, the men who flew the plane knew as much. Van Kirk, the navigator, later described the crew as having had the immediate thought that, “This war is over.” And copilot Robert A. Lewis kept a personal log of the mission, which — when it was later made public — offered a look at what else they were thinking. “I honestly have the feeling of groping for words to explain this,” he wrote of the moments after the mushroom cloud rose, “or I might say My God what have we done.”

Led mission that dropped first atomic bomb on Hiroshima

By Stephen Sherman, Nov. 2002. Updated June 29, 2011.

The B-29Superfortress, Enola Gay, rumbled down the the runway atTinian, the forward American airbase in the Marianas, as close as thegiant Boeing bombers could get to Japan’s Home Islands. Heavily ladenwith the world’s first operational atomic bomb, the B-29 shuddered andtrembled as its four 2,000 horsepower Wright Cyclones roared. Itspilot, Paul Tibbets, thought briefly of the recent B-29 crashes onTinian, and then focused on his mission.

„Dimples Eight Two to North Tinian Tower. Ready fortakeoff onRunway Able,“ he radioed to the tower. The Enola Gay picked upspeed, 75MPH, 100, then 125. Tibbets held the plane on the runway untilit reached 155 MPH, then eased back on the yoke. Near the end of the8500 foot runway, the B-29 lifted easily and steadily into the air.Tibbets checked his watch, which showed 2:45AM, the morning of August6, 1945. In ten minutes they were over Saipan, at an altitude of 4,700feet. In the pleasantly warm tropical night, during the thirteen hourflight, Tibbets and the other crewmen dozed off and on. It’s possiblethat he thought back to another summer day, in 1927, over Miami’sHialeah racetrack.

Running out of ground

The lumbering aluminum plane with a 141-foot wingspan had been stripped of its armor and all defensive weaponry but its tail guns. But it still weighed 65 tons by itself and carried 7,000 gallons of fuel.

As the plane strained to gain speed, Tibbets knew he was using up a lot of runway. Four B-29s had crashed and exploded on Tinian the night before, according to historians.

“If we crack up and the plane catches fire, there is danger of an atomic explosion that could wipe out half this island,” said Navy Capt. William Parsons, who flew on the mission as the bomb specialist.

And because of that risk, the 10-foot-long “Little Boy” had not yet been armed.

It was a “gun-type” bomb, one in which an explosive charge would fire a “subcritical” piece of uranium 235 down a six-foot-long “gun” barrel into a second subcritical piece of uranium, according to Thomas and Morgan-Witts.

This created critical mass and the explosive nuclear chain reaction that would lay waste to Hiroshima.

The four cloth bags of explosive and the detonator would not be inserted until the plane was in the air.

The Enola Gay was now doing 180 mph but was running out of ground.

Sitting beside Tibbets, the co-pilot, Capt. Robert Lewis, was alarmed.

“She’s too heavy!” he shouted. “Pull her off — now!”

When Tibbets, who was known as “Old Bull,” did not respond, Lewis reached for the duplicate steering yoke in front of him, according to Thomas and Morgan-Witts.

Another crewman yelled, “Hey, aren’t we going to run out of runway?”

At the last second, Tibbets lifted the bomber’s nose and “Dimples Eight Two” was streaking over the dark ocean on its way to Hiroshima.

Commander A.F. Birch labels the bomb destined for Hiroshima as Unit L-11. (National Archives)

The weapon is hoisted into the bomb bay of the B-29 dubbed “Enola Gay” in August 1945 on Tinian Island in the Northern Mariana Islands. (National Archives)

‘A fiery red core’

Thirty-one thousand feet above, the Enola Gay’s bombardier, Maj. Thomas Ferebee, 26, peered through the Norden bomb sight under the plane’s greenhouse-like canopy in the nose.

He was looking for the unique structure of the T-shaped Aioi Bridge, which was the aiming point for the drop. (The Japanese air raid system had just picked up the new intruders, but its warning would come too late.)

About an hour earlier, after the bomb had been fully armed, Tibbets had revealed to the crew over the intercom that they were carrying the world’s first atomic weapon.

Now, flying at 200 mph, they were almost over the target. Most of the crew put on dark welder’s glasses.

“I’ve got it!” Ferebee called when he spotted the bridge.

At 8:15 and 17 seconds, the doors of the bomb bay opened.

“Little Boy” tumbled out tail first, flipped over nose down, and began to fall through the last 43 seconds of the old era.

The bomb was designed to explode over the city at an altitude of about 1,900 feet. So it had an internal radar system that detected the ground, tripped the detonator at that altitude, and initiated the detonation sequence.

The bomb traveled for six miles and exploded just short of the bridge.

The Enola Gay, meanwhile, lurched upward on shedding the weight of the bomb and executed a hairpin turn to escape the expected shock wave of the blast.

At first, the crew saw and felt nothing. Then a giant slow-motion column of smoke and fire rose from the ground and blossomed.

Tail gunner George R. Caron, 25, who had with him his Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap and a picture of his wife and infant daughter for good luck, could see the shock wave coming fast. He yelled, just as the wave slammed into the plane. Another one hit and passed.

Tibbets asked the men over the intercom what they could see so it could be recorded for posterity.

“A column of smoke rising fast [with] a fiery red core,” Caron said, according to the historians Thomas and Morgan-Witts. “A bubbling mass, purple-gray in color … like a mass of bubbling molasses. The mushroom is spreading out. It’s maybe a mile or two wide and half a mile high.”

The remains of Hiroshima’s Industrial Promotion Hall are seen in September 1945. The skeleton of the dome has become a monument to the bombing. (AFP/Getty Images)

An Allied correspondent stands in the rubble with Hiroshima’s Industrial Promotion Hall as a backdrop on Sept. 5, 1945. (Stanley Troutman/AP)

‘Brighter than the sun’

As the Enola Gay and its two escort planes headed back Tinian, a young scientist named Luis W. Alvarez, who would later win the Nobel Prize in physics, sat aboard the “Great Artiste” flying at 28,000 feet and wrote his 4-year-old son a letter.

Alvarez had been worried that all the kinks in the bomb had not been worked out. But over Hiroshima, as he had watched from a port hole in the plane, he had seen the flash — “many times brighter than the sun” — and knew that all had gone as planned.

The Mission

By early August, 1945, plans for the first atomic mission were Boeing Superfortresses would take part, including the primary, astandby, a photo plane, one with scientific instruments to measure theblast, and three others that would scout ahead. Bombing would bevisual, rather than by radar. Possible target cities includedHiroshima, Kokura, Niigata, and Nagasaki. Until this time, Tibbets‘ ownplane had been simply number 82, when he decided to name it EnolaGay, after his confidence-building and loving mother.


Shown in photo above. Standing: Lt. Jeppson, Capt. Lewis, Gen. Davies, Col. Tibbets, Maj. Ferebee, Capt. Parsons. Kneeling: S/Sgt Duzenbury, Sgt Stiborik, Maj. Van Kirk, S/Sgt Caron, Sgt Shumard, PFC Nelson. (Gen. Davies, the Commanding Officer, was not part of the flight crew.)

They got the word on Sunday morning, August 5. Conditions were go,and the next day would be the day. At the last minute, it was decidedto complete the final assembly of the bomb in flight, thus eliminatingthe risk of it exploding if Enola Gay crashed on take-off. NavyCaptain Deak Parsons, who had earlier opposed this idea, now suggestedit, and persuaded the team that he could perform the difficult assemblyin the cramped bomb bay of the B-29.

They loaded the bomb into the Enola Gay that afternoon.“Little Boy“ was 12 feet long and 28 inches in diameter – bigger thanany bomb Tibbetts had ever seen. Its explosive power equalled 20,000tons of TNT; or roughly as much as two thousand Superfortresses couldcarry – all in a single bomb that weighed about 9,000 pounds. DeakParsons practiced the delicate arming process. That night the crew wasbriefed, for the first time, on the nature of their weapon – an atomicbomb.

Flight of the Enola Gay

Chuck Sweeney, with the scientific instruments in the GreatArtiste, would follow Tibbets‘ closely, duplicating his hairpinturn. George Marquardt’s photo plane would stay far behind, out ofrange of the shock wave. The three weather planes, Claude Etherley’s StraitFlush, John Wilson’s Jabbitt III, and Ralph Taylor’s FullHouse, would take off an hour ahead, to scout out the designatedtarget cities. Every crewman carried a standard service pistol; Tibbetscarried enough cyanide capsules for all. They started engines at 2:30AM on the morning of . Three hours after takeoff,they flew over Iwo Jima at dawn, where 5,500 Americans and 25,000Japanese had died, so that the USAAF could use Iwo as an emergencylanding field. They adjusted course and headed northwest. At 7:30, DeakParsons completed his adjustments; the atomic bomb was live. Theyclimbed slowly to their bombing altitude of 30,700 feet.

At 8:30 they received the coded message from Etherley’s StraitFlush, flying over Hiroshima, „Y-3, Q-3, B-2, C-1.“ The messagemeant that cloud cover over Hiroshima, the primary target, was lessthan three-tenths. Tibbets gave the word to his crew, „It’s Hiroshima.“As they reached the coastline of Japan, no interceptors challengedthem; the Japanese had become indifferent to small groups of crossed Shikoku and the Iyo Sea.

The Atomic Bomb

43 seconds later, a tingling in Tibbets‘ teeth told him of theHiroshima explosion: the bomb’s radioactive forces interacting with hisfillings. The bomb exploded at 1890 feet above the ground. Bob Caron,the tail gunner was the only crew member to see the fireball. Evenwearing the goggles, he thought he was blinded. The plane raced away,while the shockwave from the explosion raced toward them at 1,100 feetper second. When the shockwave hit, it felt like a near-miss from mushroom cloud boiled up, 45,000 feet high, three miles above them,and it was still rising. They flew away, shocked and horrified at thesight below. The city had completely disappeared under a blanket ofsmoke and fire. They radioed back to headquarters that the primarytarget had been bombed visually with good results.

The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima was visible for an hour and a halfas they flew southward back to Tinian. The crew talked about the effectof the atomic bomb on the war. They thought that perhaps the Japs would“throw in the sponge“ even before they landed. Twelve hours after theyhad taken off, Tibbets and the crew of the Enola Gay toucheddown, to be greeted by all the military brass that could be mustered:General Carl Spaatz, commander of the Strategic Air Force; GeneralNathan Twining, chief of the Marianas Air Force; General Thomas F.Farrell and Rear Admiral W.R.E. Purnell, both with the atomicdevelopment project; and General John Davies, 313th Wing pinned a Distinguished Service Cross on Tibbets as he descendedfrom the plane.

After the welcoming formalities, they were debriefed and given aquick medical checkup. The interviewers were skeptical of theiraccounts of the blast. The news of the atomic bomb was promptlyannounced to the world. The Japanese were given an ultimatum, to acceptthe Potsdam call for unconditional surrender, or face further atomicattacks. Three days later, Chuck Sweeney, in Bock’s Car,dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

Lieutenant Jacob Beser, Electronic Countermeasures

Army Air Force radar specialist Jacob Beser was the only man who served on both the Enola Gay in the Hiroshima bombing mission and the Bock’s Car three days later when its crew bombed Nagasaki. He couldn’t look at the detonation of the bombs because he was charged with monitoring for outside signals that could have detonated the bomb early and monitoring for signals of the proper detonation. This is addition for keeping an eye on radar for any enemy planes.

In this 1985 interview for the Washington Post, Beser was asked if he would do it again.

Given the same circumstances in the same kind of context, the answer is yes. However, you have to admit that the circumstances don’t exist now. They probably never will again. I have no regrets, no remorse about it. As far as our country was concerned, we were three years downstream in a war, going on four. The world had been at war, really, from the ’30s in China, continuously, and millions and millions of people had been killed. Add to that the deliberate killing that went on in Europe, [and] it’s kind of ludicrous to say well, geez, look at all those people that were instantly murdered. In November of 1945 there was an invasion of Japan planned. Three million men were gonna be thrown against Japan. There were about three million Japanese digging in for the defense of their homeland, and there was a casualty potential of over a million people. That’s what was avoided. If you take the highest figures of casualties of both cities, say, 300,000 combined casualties in Hiroshima [and] Nagasaki, versus a million, I’m sorry to say, it’s a good tradeoff. It’s a very cold way to look at it, but it’s the only way to look at it. Now looking into tomorrow, that’s something else again. I don’t have any pat answers for that.

After the war, Beser was an engineer at Sandia Laboratories where nuclear research continued and at Westinghouse where he worked on classified projects for the military. He retired in 1985. In 1988, Beser wrote a book called . He died of cancer in 1992 at age 71.

2nd Lieutenant Morris Jeppson, Ordnance Expert

Morris Jeppson was only 23 years old when he was assigned to accompany the atomic bomb on the Enola Gay. It was his duty to arm the bomb and make sure it would work. Jeppson had the power to abort the mission if it didn’t. It was his first and last mission of the war. Jeppson had worked in developing the mechanics of the bomb, and after the war he continued on the nuclear path. He studied physics at Berkeley and worked in the radiation laboratory there. Then he worked on developing hydrogen thermonuclear weapons at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. Jeppson went on to invent and market hi-tech machinery for medical and industrial uses.

In 1995, Jeppson looked back at the Hiroshima mission.

Until the 509th reunion that year Jeppson hadn’t given the mission much thought. „Those bomb plugs were just kicking around in a drawer“ for years, he says.

Still, he maintains that dropping the bomb on Hiroshima was a necessary means to help end the war. He points to wartime concerns that Germany was developing nuclear bomb technology.

„If that had happened, the world would be an entirely different place (today),“ he says.

Private Richard Nelson, Radar Operator

Richard Nelson was the youngest of the Enola Gay crew. He was 20 years old in August of 1945. He relayed the news of the atomic bomb to his superiors in code, who forwarded it to President Truman: „Results excellent.“ After the war, Nelson got a degree in business administration and made a career as a salesman. Fifty years later, he had no regrets about his part in the mission.

„War is a terrible thing,“ he told The Riverside Press-Enterprise on the 50th anniversary of the bombing. „It takes and it destroys. Anyone feels sorry for people who are killed. We are all human beings. But I don’t feel sorry I participated in it. If I had known the results of the mission beforehand, I would have flown it anyway.“

Staff Sergeant Robert Caron, Tail Gunner

Enola Gay tail gunner Bob Caron wrote a book about the mission called Fire of a Thousand Suns. Despite his description of the bomb’s effects, he never regretted being part of the mission.

In an interview with the Rocky Mountain News published two weeks before he died, Mr. Caron said he had no regrets about his role in the World War II bombing.

„No remorse, no bad dreams,“ he said. „We accomplished our mission.“

Caron died of pneumonia in 1995. He was 75 years old.

Staff Sergeant Wyatt Duzenbury, Flight Engineer

Wyatt Duzenbury kept tabs on the Enola Gay’s engines and other systems while others tended the bomb and the mission itself. He considered it an honor to be chosen for the secret bombing mission that was to shorten the war. After 1945, he stayed with the Air Force. In his retirement, he looked back at the mission.

.. told the Lansing State Journal in 1985, „We were told to go, cranked up, dropped it, and came home.“ He told the newspaper that he didn’t feel guilty about his mission, but did „not feel good about the 100,000 people who died.“

In an earlier interview, he said, „Personally, I feel that if we hadn’t dropped that bomb, and the other crew hadn’t dropped its bomb on Nagasaki, it would have cost thousand of US soldiers‘ lives establishing a beach head for the invasion of Japan.“

Sergeant Robert H. Shumard, Assistant Flight Engineer

Robert Shumard assisted flight engineer Wyatt Duzenbury in keeping the Enola Gay running. In a 1960 interview, Shumard said he didn’t feel honored to do what they did, but he felt honored to be selected for the mission. And given the circumstances, he would do it again.

„Nobody actually wants to cause the destruction we caused,“ he said. „But it was through a necessity rather than a wanton type of destruction. It was something that had to be done. As much as a man has gangrene in his leg, and they have to cut it off. It’s something that has to be done. It was a cancer in the world situation that had to be removed, that’s all.“

Captain Deke Parsons, Weaponeer

Naval gunnery officer William „Deke“ Parsons was pulled from sea duty to work on the Manhattan Project in 1943. He helped turn the nuclear bomb into a weapon of war, from development to assembly to delivery. He armed the first atomic bomb while the Enola Gay was airborne. After the war, Parsons continued in nuclear weapons development, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral. He oversaw the Operation Crossroads nuclear testing project and also served on the Atomic Energy Commission. Parsons witnessed seven of the first eight nuclear explosions. There are no quotes available from Parsons as he was still serving in the Navy when he died of a sudden heart attack in 1953. He was 52 years old.

Captain Robert Lewis, Co-Pilot

Air Force flier Robert Lewis was a pilot first and foremost. He was upset that commander Paul Tibbets had named his plane the Enola Gay. But he was also dedicated to the mission, and earned Tibbets‘ respect despite the animosity between the two. Lewis wrote a diary of the mission in a notebook during the flight to Hiroshima, against orders. He later sold it for $37,000. It was resold in 2002 for almost ten times that much. He is often quoted:

„As the bomb fell over Hiroshima and exploded, we saw an entire city disappear. I wrote in my log the words: ‚My God, what have we done?'“

Some sources say that quote was a revision after the fact. Later in life, Lewis defended the mission.

Over the past half century, some of the crew have returned to the city to take part in the annual commemoration celebrations. Lewis never did. For him „it was just a job of work. I helped make the world a safer place. Nobody has dared launch an atomic bomb since then. That is how I want to be remembered. The man who helped to do that.“


Paul Tibbets was born Feb. 23, 1915, son of Enola Gay and PaulWarfield Tibbets in Quincy, Illinois. Attracted by the land boom, theTibbets family moved to Florida when Paul was nine. On that memorablesummer day, a barnstorming pilot, Doug Davis, let the twelve-year oldPaul ride in his Waco 9 airplane and toss Baby Ruth candy bars to thecrowds at Hialeah racetrack and Miami Beach. Tibbets always traced hisinterest in aviation to that day. The next year, 1928, he enteredWestern Military Academy (WMA), where ButchO’Hare attended at the same he learned many of the rituals of military life, such as hazingand room inspections where the inspector was likely to rub a whiteglove across the sole of his foot and issue a demerit for „dirtyfloors.“

He enrolled in the University of Florida at Gainesville in 1933,more or less to follow his family’s plan for him to pursue a medicalcareer. With this goal still in mind, he transferred to University ofCincinnati after his sophomore year, where he continued to take flyinglessons. After some major soul-searching, and a difficult conversationwith his father, he decided that his heart was not in medicine, butrather in aviation.

Following this dream, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps, and reported toRandolph Field in 1937. From his years at WMA, he was familiar withhazing, inspections, and other demands of military routine. He trainedon PT-3’s and BT-9’s, the standard trainers of the day. He graduatedfirst in his class, and unlike most of the other top pilots, he did notelect Pursuit, but rather multi-engine Observation duty, because hethought Observation would offer him more independence. From 1938through 1940, while at Fort Benning, he flew O-46 and O-47 observationplanes and B-10 bombers.

Here he met George Patton, then a Lieutenant Colonel, and destinedto become the world-famous tank General in World War Two. While Tibbetswas a lowly Second Lieutenant, they went skeet shooting was a fierce competitor and „screamed in fury“ at the fewquarters he lost competing against Tibbets.

Tibbets learned a whole new approach to flying in 1941, when hebegan to fly the Army’s new attack bomber, the A-20. While earlierbombers has sought refuge in altitude, the development of radar and theA-20’s mission, forced the A-20 pilots to fly on the deck, barely 100feet off the ground. He was flying over the skies of Georgia, listeningto a commercial radio station, when he heard the news of the attack onPearl Harbor. The United States was at war! Amidst the rapidly changing priorities of early 1942,Tibbets (now a Captain) found himself in a squadron of B-18’s destinedfor anti-submarine duty over the Atlantic. He soon transferred to thefour-engine B-17 Flying Fortress, ascommander of the 40th Squadron of the 97th Bomb Group (Heavy).

The B-29 Superfortress

In Sept. 1944, he reported to Colorado Springs for a top secretassignment – to organize bombardment group to deliver the atomic bomb.Following a detailed personal interview, he was introduced to GeneralUzal Ent and Professor Norman Ramsey, who explained the project to him.Tibbets force, the 509th Composite Group, included 15 B-29’s and 1,800men.The 509th settled on Wendover, Utah as their base. Due to its remotelocation, it was ideal for security. From his old B-17 crew in Europe,he selected Tom Ferebee (bombardier), Sgt. George Caron (tail gunner),Dutch Van Kirk (navigator), and Sgt. Wyatt Duzenberry (flightengineer). These men were assigned to Tibbets‘ airplane. Bob Lewis flewas Tibbets could get any men and any planes he needed, the 509thquickly filled out, and the entire organization was complete by Dec.1944.

The primary challenge would be to drop the atomic bomb, without theshockwave destroying the B-29. The scientists estimated that a B-29could survive the shockwave at a distance of eight miles. Flying at31,000 feet, the B-29 would already be six miles in the air. To gainthe extra distance, Tibbetts determined that a sharp 155 degree turnwould be the best maneuver. In less than 2 minutes, the B-29 wouldreverse it direction and fly five miles; Another critical concern wasaccuracy; using the Norden bombsight, the bombardiers would have to putthe bomb within 200 feet of the aiming point. Another challenge was tonavigate over water and land; the transition could be disorienting. SoTibbets and his men trained for this navigation in Cuba. The Cubatraining exercise gave him the opportunity to fly his mother, Enola GayTibbets, in a C-54 transport plane to visit him, surviving and evenenjoying a turbulent flight, complete with St. Elmo’s Fire.