Little Bits of History

Fat Man’s Predecessor

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 6, 2010

Enola Gay

August 6, 1945: Colonel Paul W. Tibbets flies the Enola Gay over Hiroshima and Little Boy, the first atomic bomb used in warfare, is dropped at 8:15 AM. The explosion was at about 1,800 feet  over the city. The payload was equal to 13-16 kilotons of TNT. Little Boy weighed 8,900 pounds and measured 10 feet in length by 28 inches in diameter. It carried 141 pounds of U-235 of which 25 ounces underwent nuclear fission.

The Manhattan Project was charged with investigation into atomic energy. The major focus of the project was isotope enrichment for the uranium needed to build the bomb. Research took place at Oak Ridge, Tennessee and began in 1943. The Los Alamos laboratory was given the task of building the delivery system. They originated a gun-type design that was to be used for both uranium and plutonium, but it was found that only the uranium worked.

Once Little Boy was equipped with the cordite used for firing, any mishandling could cause an nuclear chain reaction. He carried two types of uranium and if they mixed, again a nuclear explosion would occur. Water was also a risk in setting off an unplanned explosion.

There is much controversy about the dropping of the bomb. There is speculation that although many lives were lost, it saved overall, hundreds of thousands of lives that would have been lost with a direct assault on the Japanese islands. The bomb’s explosion were resulted in approximately 70,000 people killed instantly. Another 60,000 died by the end of the year from fallout. More thousands died in the years that followed due to diseases.

“In difficult and desperate situations, the boldest plans are safest.” – Lucius Marcius

“War is much too serious a matter to be entrusted to generals.” – Georges Clemenceau

“Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.” – Chester W. Nimitz

“I fear we have only awakened a sleeping giant, and his reaction will be terrible.” – Isoroku Yamamoto, Japanese admiral, referring to the attack at Pearl Harbor which he helped plan.

Also on this day, in 1890 William Kemmler is executed, using the electric chair for the first time.
Bonus Link: In 1926, Gertrude Ederle
became the first female to swim the English Channel.

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  1. […] Kemmler is executed, using the electric chair for the first time. Bonus Link: In 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima. Leave a […]


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