Fatman Essay, Research Paper
“A bright light filled the plane. We turned back to look at Hiroshima. The city was hidden by that awful cloud . . . boiling up, mushrooming.” (www.csi.ad.jp) What could cause such devastation? Fat Man and Little Boy, the bombs that ended World War II and brought the world into the nuclear age.
In September 1940, after the fall of France, Hitler and Mussolini made an alliance with Japan. The Tripartite Pact provided the right of entry of Japanese troops into Indochina. Japan quietly extended her influence in the Pacific, threatening the Burma Road, occupation of French Indochina, and into the Southern Regions, rich in raw materials.
The United States, along with Great Britain and the Netherlands, warned the Japanese against territorial expansion by force. After Japan’s occupation of Indochina, President Franklin D. Roosevelt immediately froze Japanese credits in the United States and placed an embargo on war materials to Japan. The Japanese demanded that trade be reestablished between the two countries. The United States responded that trade would begin as before only if the Japanese would support the principle of noninterference in the affairs of other countries.
In November 1941, a special Japanese peace convoy arrived in Washington, D.C. for reaching a peaceful settlement of the trade problem. However, this was only a cover. Japan was planning for a strike against the United States.
Sunday, December 7, 1941, Japan led a sneak attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Japanese planes sank five battle ships and damaged three more, killing twenty-five thousand soldiers, sailors and civilians. The US was out of Pacific naval striking commission for months. This was just one of a series of Japanese offensives planned by Admiral Yamamoto, against the countries in the western and southwestern Pacific region. Japan formally declared war on the United States and Great Britain. By December 11, 1941, the United States declared war on the Axis powers.
Japan eventually claimed Guam, Wake Islands, Hong Kong, parts of New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies, and threatened Australia. Through 1943, the United States made slow progress in the Pacific. The United States continued to inch its way toward Japan. Although progress was made, most Allied attention was focused on Europe and Hitler.
In mid 1942, the United States initiated an all-out program to develop an atom bomb. This weapon’s explosive power originates from the fission of atomic nuclei. When the nucleus of a heavy atom is split, such as uranium – 235, a certain amount of mass disappears and an equivalent amount of energy is released. This is the energy that powers an atom bomb. On a pound-for-pound basis, the U-235 in an atomic bomb can release roughly one million times as much energy as TNT.
Responsibility for the entire program, research as well as construction, was assigned to the US Army Corp of Engineers under the code name “Manhattan Project.” The project with a work force of more than 100,000 persons took nearly three years to complete.
Continuous air raids helped create fear in the Japanese. From November 1944, the United States conducted bombing raids on Japan cities. Residential and industrial sections were not separated. Thus, precision bombings on industrial sites were impossible. The Tokyo Air Raids, March 1945, were low level incendiary bomb runs over Tokyo, and the resulting firestorms caused great loss of
life and property. These attacks on the mainland were part of the American effort to force Japan toward a surrender agreement.
The Japanese government by this time was divided into a peace faction and a war faction. The war faction was powerful, but Japanese Emperor Hirohito started to give support to the peace faction. He believed that if Japan refused to surrender, it would be devastated even further and the entire country might be lost. It was his belief that the war must be ended as quickly as possible. The war faction disregarded the Emperor’s position. Unconditional surrender was inglorious for them.
President Truman had three options; continue the firebombing and blockade, an invasion, or use the atomic bomb. Truman was aware that the first two options would probably not be very effective methods to induce the Japanese to surrender. The Battle of Okinawa, April – June 1945, caused forty-eight thousand Americans casualties due to the Japanese refusal to surrender.
The United States decided to use the bomb as its development made its use more feasible. In May 1945, a special committee in Washington debated possible target sites and finally nominated four urban industrial centers: Kokura, Hiroshima, Niigata, and Nagasaki.
In July 1945, several U.S. military leaders went with the President to the Big Three meeting at Potsdam where discussions continued. They decided that the bomb should be used. The Potsdam Proclamation was issued during the Potsdam meeting by the heads of government of the United States, Britain, and China. It warned of “utter devastation of the Japanese homeland” unless Japan surrendered unconditionally.
In May of 1945, the B-29 plane that would drop the first A-bomb was selected. Col. Paul W. Tibbets had been picked to fly it and gave the plane his mother’s first and middle names, Enola Gay. The selection of the city was agreed upon, Hiroshima. It appeared to be the most suitable site. Its dimensions were perfect. The U.S. had not gotten around to bombing it and it was the largest unbombed target on the 21st Bomber Command list.
Approximately 2:00 a.m. on the morning of August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay, which was carrying an atomic bomb, started on the long flight from Tinian in the Marianas Islands. Two observation planes carrying cameras and scientific instruments followed behind her.
After 6:00 a.m., the 15-kiloton atomic bomb was fully armed on board the Enola Gay. Tibbets announced to the crew that the plane was carrying the world’s first atomic bomb, Little Boy.
At approximately 7:00 a.m., the Japanese radar detected aircraft heading toward Japan and a broadcast alert was made throughout Hiroshima. Soon afterward an American weather plane circled over the city, but there was no sign of bombers. The people began their daily work and thought the danger had passed.
At 7:25 a.m., the Enola Gay, at twenty-six thousand feet, was cruising toward Hiroshima. The radio stations warned for the people to take shelter, but many did not follow the advice. They thought it was the same as the first time.
At 8:09 a.m., the crew of the Enola Gay could see the city appear below; it was time to drop the bomb. Just then, they received a message saying the weather was good over Hiroshima.
The bomb was released at 8:16 a.m. A strong explosion occurred near the central section of the city. The crew of the Enola Gay saw a column of smoke rising fast with intense fires springing up, destroying three square miles and wounding or killing more than 160,000 people.
On August 9, 1945, the Soviet Union declared War on Japan. On the same day, a second bomb (the Fat Man) was dropped by the Bock’s Car on Nagasaki. The plane was named after Frederick Bock, the plane’s commander. However, on the day of the Nagasaki bombing, Bock switched planes with Charles W. Sweeney. The Bock’s Car and its crew left Tinian in the Marianas in the middle of the night. Its mission was to bomb the industrial city of Kokura, but clouds and smog blocked the target. The contingent plan was for bombing Nagasaki.
Fat Man (20-kilotons) was larger than Little Boy. The damage was less than Hiroshima, because of the geographic structure of Nagasaki. It is estimated approximately seventy thousand people died by the end of the year because of the bombing.
President Harry S. Truman warned that more bombs would follow unless an immediate surrender was secured. With no other choice, Japan agreed to the United States demands for unconditional surrender.
After years of fighting, the Japanese finally surrendered to the United States. On September 2, 1945, Japanese leaders signed the surrender document that ended the war that lasted six years and one day.