The atomic bomb is an engine for the destruction of human civilization, a weapon that could fundamentally change the way humans live. But, it was only a weapon. And, with the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, did it finally end the war? Not quite. The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of human lives, came from the Manhattan Project, the most expensive and dangerous project ever undertaken in the history of world history.

A story so well-known and well-told, it has become a cliché. The first atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, on August 6th, 1945. As a result of the bombing, tens of thousands of people were killed, and those that survived suffered from radiation sickness and other ills.

The Japanese army had been fighting on land for the last two years and had lost several key battles. The war seemed to be heading in the favor of the Allies.. Read more about the atomic bomb and the end of world war ii and let us know what you think.

Since 1945, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima has been the topic of many books and articles, many of which were written by scientists and others involved in the creation of the world’s first atomic bombs. Since that historic mission half a century ago, the personal narrative of Brigadier General Paul W. Tibbets, who piloted the Boeing B-29 Enola Gay, as well as the individual stories of its crew members, have been published.

Surprisingly, the narrative of the second mission, which destroyed Nagasaki, has not been completely recounted, owing to the frantic pace of events that led to Japan’s total surrender. It may also be because the second A-bomb attack was so close to becoming a disaster. It also demonstrated the truth of Murphy’s Law, which states that everything that may go wrong, will go wrong.

Tibbets, then a colonel in command of the 509th Composite Group, had polished his 15 B-29 Superfortresses into one of the best Air Force bombardment units ever created. He and his crew had completed a picture-perfect 2,900-mile flight from Tinian Island in the Marianas, which was then considered the world’s biggest air base, and had dropped the uranium bomb known as “Little Boy” precisely on target. That single, 8,900-pound bomb obliterated almost five square miles of Hiroshima, or 60% of the city. More than 78,000 of the city’s 348,000 residents were murdered, with another 51,000 wounded or missing.

It had been an exhausting 12-hour mission. After returning to Tinian, Tibbets was greeted on the tarmac by General Carl Spaatz, commander of the Strategic Air Force, who pinned the Distinguished Service Cross on his rumpled, sweat-stained flying suit. Meanwhile, U.S. President Harry S. Truman was aboard USS Augusta, returning from a conference with Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin at Potsdam, Germany. Upon hearing the news, Truman exclaimed, ‘This is the greatest thing in history!’ He promptly announced to the world the existence of an atomic bomb that had been developed under the code name, ‘Manhattan Project.’

The War Department then released a series of news releases detailing the project’s history, production facilities, and key personnel biographies. The releases were really written by William L. Laurence, a scientific writer for The New York Times, who had known about the A-bomb for many months before to the Hiroshima mission, in a rare case of military and press collaboration. He had inspected the manufacturing facilities and accompanied the party to Tinian since he was aware of the necessity for total secrecy.

Within hours, reports about the explosion and the concepts involved in splitting the atom appeared in newspapers all across the globe. They detailed the creation of the bomb, the destruction it wrought, Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves’ position as director of the Manhattan Project, and the efforts of 30,000 engineers and scientists to unlocking the riddle of the atom’s tremendous potential.

Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson was one of the few senior officials who had been fully briefed on the bomb’s top-secret development and had given his approval to the target decision. He promised that enhancements to the Hiroshima bomb would be made shortly, and that the weapon’s efficacy would be increased by a factor of ten.

The people of the target cities have been given advance warning. On July 27, leaflets were dropped on 11 Japanese towns informing residents that America had “the most devastating bomb ever created by man.” Other warnings had been sent to the Japanese in the weeks before, while the Twentieth Air Force’s Superforts had firebombed the country’s major industrial centers.

However, the unfathomable devastation that a single bomb might cause was overlooked, and the warnings were dismissed. The day before, on July 26, a declaration was issued in Potsdam informing the world of three Allied nations’ intentions regarding Japan: ‘The prodigious land, sea, and air forces of the United States, the British Empire, and China, many times reinforced by their armies and air fleets of the west, are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan.’ This military might is maintained and fueled by the resolve of the Allied nations to continue fighting Japan until she surrenders.

‘…We urge the Japanese government to declare the unconditional surrender of all Japanese military forces right now, and to give appropriate and adequate assurances of their good faith in doing so. The only other option for Japan is complete annihilation.’

At the highest echelons of the Japanese administration, the Potsdam Declaration was fiercely discussed. A delegation was sent to Moscow to ask the Soviet Union, which was still at peace with Japan at the time, to serve as a mediator. It was anticipated that if the Soviets agreed to play that role, it would be feasible to negotiate the most advantageous conditions for Japan.

Few Japanese military commanders wanted to accede to a demand for unconditional surrender, thus there was a lot of disagreement among them. Senior diplomats and important people, on the other hand, secretly encouraged Marquis Koichi Kido and members of the Japanese government to accept the offer so that the war might be ended quickly. War Minister Korechika Anami and the chiefs of the army and naval staffs, on the other hand, were resolute in their refusal to accept the conditions of the Potsdam accord. As a consequence, Japan’s government seemed to disregard the Allied statement. There was no reason to believe that the statement itself was a forewarning that the most lethal weapon ever created was on the way. Hiroshima’s residents sadly learnt differently.

The first reports of damage were few and fragmented due to the total breakdown of communications in Hiroshima after the atomic bomb. While the rest of the world awaited their response, horrified Japanese authorities tried to assess the scope of the destruction. Meanwhile, President Truman made the following statement: ‘The ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam to save the Japanese people from ultimate catastrophe.’ That ultimatum was quickly rejected by their leaders. If they do not accept our conditions immediately, they may be subjected to a deluge of destruction never before witnessed on this planet.’

Other diplomatic efforts had been made earlier by Japanese diplomats via neutral countries, intimating that Japan could surrender under specific conditions that were unacceptable to America and its allies. However, after hearing nothing from the Japanese, preparations were made to drop the second atomic weapon.

‘Special Mission No. 16′ was the name given to the second mission. A B-29 would transport ‘Fat Man,’ which is bigger and more complicated than Little Boy. Kokura was the main objective. Nagasaki was the secondary target.

Major Charles W. Sweeney, commanding officer of the 393rd Squadron, was designated as the pilot in charge of aircraft No. 297, dubbed Bockscar, by the 509th Operations Order No. 39 dated August 8, 1945. The group operations officer, Major James I. Hopkins, Jr., was assigned to fly a second B-29 called Full House, which would contain photography equipment and scientific staff. Winston Churchill’s official representative, Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, would be on board.

The Bomb That Ended the War Prior to taking off on the Nagasaki mission, Capt. James Van Pelt, Maj. Charles Sweeney, and Lt. Fred Olivi examine their route. (From the National Archives)

Instead of flying his own aircraft, Captain Fred Bock would pilot The Great Artiste, which was called after Captain Kermit K. Beahan’s skill as a bombardier and his competence with the other sex. Major Sweeney’s aircraft would be carrying the same sophisticated electronic measuring equipment he used on the Hiroshima mission. It would also transport William L. Laurence, a New York Times correspondent who had been selected at the start of the Manhattan Project. He’d be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting. A fourth aircraft was to go to Iwo Jima and be on standby in case any of the backup planes had to return home early.

Two weather observation planes were supposed to arrive at the target regions one hour before the attack planes. The location had to be visible to the bombardier since the instruction was to bomb visually for the best precision.

Sweeney’s crew usually consisted of ten men. The weaponeer in command of the bomb, Lt. Cmdr. Frederick L. Ashworth, US Navy; his assistant, Lieutenant Phillip M. Barnes; and the radar-countermeasures expert, Lieutenant Jacob Beser, were all added. The copilot was Captain Charles D. Albury; the third pilot was Lieutenant Frederick J. Olivi; the navigator was Captain James F. Van Pelt, Jr.; the bombardier was Captain Kermit Beahan; the radioman was Staff Sgt. Abe M. Spitzer; the radar operator was Staff Sgt. Edward K. Buckley; the central fire control gunner was Staff Sgt. Albert T. DeHart; the flight engineer was Master Sgt. John D. Kuhare As a member of the strike aircraft crew, Beser was the only man who flew on both atomic bomb missions. Sweeney and several of the others in the formation had flown the other planes on the Hiroshima mission.

The crews of the 509th had been training together under top-secret circumstances for almost a year. They had assembled at Wendover Field, a remote station in western Utah, before flying separate long-range, over-water navigation missions from Batista Field in Cuba. In late May and early June 1945, the 509th proceeded to Tinian via air and sea, where their top-secret status was the focus of considerable interest and continuous teasing. The crews practicing for the atomic missions dropped massive 10,000-pound “pumpkins” on 12 Japanese targets. Each pumpkin has 5,500 pounds of explosives within it.

The Bomb That Ended the War “Fat Man” is lowered into the pit, which is covered for security, so it may be loaded onto the bomber. National Archives and Records Administration)

Because the 509th’s B-29s had been modified to deliver the atomic bomb, they couldn’t carry conventional bombs. Instead, they carried big man-shaped pumpkins that had been painted orange. The pumpkins had also been utilized during their training in the United States. Proximity fuses, which create an air burst, were placed, as was the case with atomic bombs. About 45 pumpkin bombs had been imported from the United States. According to Tibbets, his crews were so good with them that the Twentieth Air Force commander, Maj. Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, requested 100 more.

The meticulously designed components of one of the world’s most unique air units arrived on time, supported by the highest national priority for supply. Thousands of individuals contributed to the development of the two atomic bombs. They’d agreed to take on the challenge of splitting the atom and investigating its potential as a weapon that could be controlled and unleashed on command.

The atomic bomb’s development may be traced back to the 1920s and early 1930s. Several scientists, most of whom were based in Europe at the time, devised ideas to unleash the energy they thought resided inside the atom. Leo Szilard, a Hungarian who had escaped Nazi Germany to England in 1933, was one of those scientists. ‘Under some conditions, it may be feasible to set up a nuclear chain reaction, release energy on an industrial scale, and build atomic weapons,’ Szilard speculated. He asked British authorities to undertake study on his idea to verify or refute it.

Meanwhile, Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner, two German scientists, worked with radioactive uranium in an attempt to create a chain reaction. In 1938, Meitner escaped Nazi Germany for Sweden, where he shared the findings of his studies with scientist Niels Bohr, who departed shortly after for the United States. To explain the military potential of atomic energy, Bohr approached Albert Einstein, a refugee physicist who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921.

In August 1939, Einstein, who was already well-known in America, addressed a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. ‘Recent work…leads me to anticipate that the element uranium may be converted into a new and significant source of energy in the near future, and it is conceivable…that very powerful bombs of a new kind may be built as a result,’ he wrote.

Roosevelt nominated a group of experts to a uranium advisory council, but there was no real impetus to take any concrete action at the time. Meanwhile, scientists in Germany and Japan were contemplating the military applications of atomic energy. The assault on Pearl Harbor was the catalyst for the United States to act.

Dr. Vannevar Bush, the director of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development, told President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942 that an atomic weapon might be created. The Manhattan Project was given the go light. General Leslie R. Groves, an Army Corps of Engineers commander with a reputation for toughness, was assigned command.

Enrico Fermi, an Italian physicist at the University of Chicago, constructed the first nuclear reactor on a squash court under the stands of the university’s football stadium with the help of a team of other scientists. The world’s first self-sustaining, controlled nuclear reaction was accomplished on December 2, 1942.

There were at least two techniques for producing an explosion, both of which were costly but feasible. To manufacture uranium and plutonium, the fissionable material required for the bombs, large facilities were constructed in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Hanford, Wash. At the so-called Site Y in Los Alamos, N.M., a central laboratory was constructed to develop both bombs, with Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer in command.

Little Boy, which was 10 feet long and 28 inches in diameter, resembled a cannon in which a uranium 235 ‘bullet’ was discharged into a uranium 235 target. A supercritical mass was reached when the two met, resulting in a chain reaction and explosion. There were no preliminary firing tests conducted.

Fat Man was 10 feet 8 inches tall with a 5 foot diameter. It included a plutonium sphere. The plutonium was surrounded by conventional explosives, which compressed it into a supercritical mass, causing a chain reaction and an explosion. On July 16, 1945, Fat Man was put to the test in the New Mexico desert near Alamogordo. The world’s first nuclear detonation produced a blinding explosion equal to 18,600 tons of TNT. Most of Little Boy’s components were already on their way to Tinian by the time the more complex Fat Man was tested.

Sweeney’s workers saw Fat Man being loaded on August 8 after Tibbets returned from Hiroshima. Sweeney’s biggest worry, he subsequently said, was ‘goingofing up.’ ‘If I make a foolish mistake, I’d rather face the Japanese than Tibbets in humiliation,’ he added.

Sweeney made no “stupid errors,” but the second nuclear mission looked doomed from the outset. General Tibbets reportedly described the second mission as a “fiasco” due to no fault of Sweeney’s.

The two target cities had been chosen with consideration. They hadn’t been severely bombed by LeMay’s B-29s on purpose, so that “the evaluation of the atomic bomb damage would not be confounded by needing to remove prior incendiary or high explosive damage,” as the after-action report put it.

Because it was the enemy’s main manufacturing source for automatic weapons, Fat Man selected Kokura in Kyushu’s northeast portion as his primary target. It was also home to the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works, one of Japan’s biggest shipbuilding and naval hubs.

The secondary target, Nagasaki, was Kyushu’s third biggest city. It was also a major shipbuilding and repair facility in Japan. However, it was not deemed a totally “virgin” target since it had been attacked by Twentieth Air Force aircraft a few weeks earlier. Niigata was considered as a third target at one point, but it was too far distant from the other two cities.

The crews received their last briefing on August 9 in the early morning hours. They’d cruise up to 31,000 feet, the bombing height. The two weather aircraft would report on the conditions over both targets in the meanwhile. The bombers were to maintain complete radio silence. Rescue ships and submarines were on standby in case any of the planes had to ditch; furthermore, aircraft were on notice, ready to be sent to find a downed plane or its crew.

Sweeney took Bockscar off at 3:49 a.m., Tinian time, with his aircraft stripped of all weaponry save two.50-caliber tail guns. The trip from Iwo Jima to Kokura was initially intended, but poor weather prompted a diversion to Yaku-Shima in the Ryukus. Commander Ashworth armed Fat Man on the way.

Only The Great Artiste was there when Bockscar arrived at the meeting location. Hopkins, on Full House, had lost touch with the other aircraft due to low visibility.

Sweeney had promised not to stay over the meeting spot for more than 15 minutes, but he circled for 45 minutes searching for Hopkins. Hopkins, meantime, was circling a location several miles to the south. Hopkins broke the radio quiet by asking, “Chuck, where in the heck are you?”

Sweeney remained silent. Frustrated, he informed the crew, “We can’t wait any longer,” and directed the lone B-29 escort toward Kokura. He wanted the operation to be a total success, but he didn’t think it could be if the explosion wasn’t adequately recorded by the photographs that Hopkins’ aircraft would provide. Something had gone awry in the bomb bay in the meanwhile. A red light illuminated the black box holding the electrical switches that armed the explosives. As long as the light flashed in a regular pattern, the bomb was correctly equipped. Something was wrong if it blinked in a strange pattern.

Lieutenant Barnes, the electronics test officer, was the one who first saw the red light begin to flicker erratically. He and Ashworth hurriedly removed the black box’s lid in an attempt to find the source of the problem. Barnes quickly traced all of the wiring and discovered the issue: the wiring on two tiny rotary switches had been flipped. He was able to correctly connect them in a short amount of time. It could’ve been a lot worse. They would have had less than a minute to discover the problem if it had been the timing fuses before Fat Man went off if it had been the timing fuses.

Sweeney had heard rumors that the weather above Kokura would be ideal for visual bombing, but that wasn’t the case. The city was now covered by substantial cloud cover, rather than the three-tenths cloud cover initially reported. In addition, smoke from a firebomb assault on neighboring Yawata the night before exacerbated the situation. Flak was ‘wide, but altitude is ideal,’ according to Staff Sergeant DeHart, who was in the tail-gun position. Staff Sgt. Gallagher believed he spotted fighters through the haze after seeing them on radar.

‘We spent approximately 50 minutes and made three passes from various directions, but Beahan [the bombardier] stated he couldn’t bomb visually,’ Lieutenant Olivi recounted. The crew chief [Master Sgt. Kuharek] stated that the 600 gallons of gasoline in the bomb bay auxiliary tanks couldn’t be moved at this time. We were in desperate need of the additional 600 gallons.’

The Bomb That Ended the War This unique picture, taken from “The Great Artiste,” shows the atomic bomb-laden “Bockscar” on way to Japan. (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of the United States Air Force)

They didn’t have an option at this point. Sweeney headed for Nagasaki after consulting with Ashworth, expecting for better weather there. When they arrived, the city was shrouded by a cloud cover that covered nine-tenths of the sky and had very few openings. In defiance of instructions, Ashworth and Sweeney contemplated bombing via radar. Despite the dangers of having an armed bomb on board, they were instructed to return it if they couldn’t bomb visibly. The unofficial tertiary goal, Niigata, was too far away, particularly with their limited gasoline supply. With the armed Fat Man onboard, no one wanted to have to ditch in the East China Sea or attempt to land on Okinawa, the closest friendly base.

‘We began our approach [to Nagasaki], but Beahan couldn’t see the target region [east of the port],’ Olivi said. The navigator, Van Pelt, was using radar to double-check that we were in the correct city, and it seemed like the bomb would be dropped automatically. ‘I’ve got a hole!’ Beahan screamed over his microphone in the last seconds of the bomb run. I’m aware of it! ‘I can make out the target!’ Only 20 seconds before unleashing the bomb, he allegedly noticed an opening in the clouds.’

‘I spotted my aiming point; there was no issue with it,’ Beahan said Tibbets later in his debriefing. I had it in the crosshairs; I’d slashed my rate; I’d slashed my drift. The bomb has to be detonated.’

Sweeney swung the B-29 around in a fast, 60-degree left bank and turned 150 degrees away from the location when Beahan screamed, “Bombs away!” over the intercom, as they had all rehearsed many times before. A bright flash lighted up the cockpit around 50 seconds after the launch, when everyone had worn blackout goggles. ‘Even with my Polaroid glasses on, it was more brilliant than sunshine,’ Olivi says. I could see flames smoldering and dust and smoke billowing in every way. From the middle started to grow an unsightly mushroom. It quickly expanded and started to rise straight at our B-29.

‘We dived downhill and escaped from the radioactive cloud just after the explosion.’ We felt three distinct shock waves, the first of which was the most intense. Bright, sickly pink flames sprang out of the mushroom cloud’s innards as it continued to rise toward us. I got a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that the cloud was going to engulf us. We’d been told many times that flying into it might result in radiation sickness.

‘Actually, I believe the mushroom cloud missed us by approximately 125 yards before we were able to drive away.’ All of our evasive tactics briefings and practice had taken on a new significance.’

The sight had reporter Laurence, who was flying close aboard The Great Artiste, captivated in amazement. He subsequently recounted in his award-winning book Dawn Over Zero, “We saw a huge pillar of purple fire, 10,000 feet high, explode skyward like a meteor originating from the earth instead of from deep space.” ‘It wasn’t smoke, dust, or even a cloud of fire anymore. It was a live creature, a new species of being, that had been born right in front of our stunned eyes.

‘As we stood there watching, a massive mushroom erupted from the pillar’s top, a mushroom top that was even more alive than the pillar, seething and boiling in a white fury of creamy froth, a thousand geysers rolled into one. It continued to struggle in an elemental rage, as if it were a creature attempting to free itself from the chains that bound it.

‘It had altered its shape into a flowerlike form, its enormous petals bending downward, creamy white on the surface, rose-colored on the interior, when we last saw it. The raging pillar had transformed into a massive mountain of tangled rainbows. Those rainbows have a lot of live matter in them.’

After the explosion, Major Hopkins spotted the column of smoke from 100 miles away and flew into the location. However, since the location was totally obscured by clouds and smoke, no damage to the ground could be seen.

Sweeney drew a large circle around the mushroom cloud before heading for Tinian. They were now in the midst of a new threat. The gasoline supply was critically low. Everyone on the flight deck was monitoring the fuel readings on Kuharek’s flight engineer console as they altered course towards Okinawa. Sweeney had lowered the propellers to a range-extending low rpm and leaned as far back as he could on the fuel mixture controls as he dropped; he estimated they would land approximately 50 miles short of the island. Even after seeing Yontan Field, it seemed like they would have to land short of the runway.

Albury contacted the tower for landing directions while Sweeney was flying. He did not get a response. Sweeney ordered Van Pelt and Olivi to fire every emergency flare on board as he broadcasted a Mayday. Nobody seemed to be paying attention. Sweeney, desperate, grabbed the microphone and said, “I’m coming right in!”

‘When we lined up on the approach, we could see emergency equipment rushing down to the runway, so someone must have received the alert,’ Olivi remembered. We barely had enough gas for one pass, so if we didn’t make it, we’d crash into the sea.

‘Sweeney came in hard and quick–too hard and fast. The B-29’s normal landing speed was about 130 mph. We flew half the length of the runway before landing at 150 mph, a hazardous pace with almost empty gas tanks.

‘As we landed, the aircraft started to veer to the left, and we almost collided with a line of B-24 bombers stationed down the active runway.’ Sweeney eventually regained control of the aircraft, but the No. 2 engine failed as we taxied off the ground. Ambulances, staff vehicles, jeeps, and fire engines encircled us fast, and a swarm of nervous passengers debarked, relieved to be safe on the ground.’

The Bomb That Ended the War Maj. Sweeney (middle) meets Col. Tibbets upon his return to Tinian, relieved. (From the National Archives)

The aircraft took up the whole runway attempting to come to a stop, something Olivi failed to disclose. Sweeney slammed on the brakes and made a 90-degree turn at the end of the runway to avoid crashing into the sea. Two engines had failed, and the centrifugal force caused by the maneuver was almost enough to push the aircraft through the side, according to Beser.

Before filling the tanks, Kuharek calculated that there were precisely seven gallons remaining. From takeoff at Tinian to landing at Okinawa, the Nagasaki mission took 10 1/2 hours. The crewmen were informed shortly after landing that the Russians had just joined the war against Japan.

For Sweeney and his crew, a nagging question haunted all of them: Had they hit the target? Ashworth didn’t think they had. In his anxiety about obeying the order to bomb visually, Beahan had released the weapon about 1 1/2 miles northeast of the city, up the valley of the Urakami River. The bomb had exploded over the center of the industrial area, not the densely populated residential area.

Sweeney and Ashworth commandeered a vehicle and drove to the base communications center to transmit a report to Tinian as their Superfort was being gassed. They were denied authorization to transmit such a message without the approval of the commanding general. Lieutenant General Jimmy Doolittle had just been sent to Okinawa to supervise the arrival of Eighth Air Force troops from Europe in order to train them for future action.

Doolittle listened attentively as Sweeney and Ashworth described what had occurred, despite not knowing anything about the A-bomb plans or activities. Both guys were apprehensive about informing a three-star general that the bomb had not struck the target directly. Doolittle took out a map of Japan while they spoke, pointing out the industrial region where they believed the bomb had detonated. ‘I’m sure General Spaatz will be much pleased that the bomb went off in the river valley rather than over the city, with the resultant considerably reduced number of fatalities,’ Doolittle remarked reassuringly. He gave the communications department immediate permission to transmit Sweeney’s coded after-action report.

Sweeney and his crew were tired as they left Tinian after a three-hour stopover, arriving after midnight. As pilot-in-command, Sweeney was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. As ‘members of a B-29 aircraft carrying the second atomic bomb used in the history of warfare….despite a rapidly dwindling gasoline reserve, they reached the target and dropped the bomb on the important industrial city of Nagasaki with devastating effect,’ the other crew members received the Distinguished Flying Cross. If the missile had been detonated while still in the bomb bay by a burst of flak or a hit by enemy fighters, or if it had been dropped when the B-29 was close to the ground, as could have happened after engine failure, the aircraft would have disintegrated.’

The Bomb That Ended the War The Fat Man explosion was believed to have had a force of 22,000 tons of TNT. The bigger explosion had been contained by the high slopes. Despite the fact that the industrial area had been leveled, it had resulted in fewer deaths than Little Boy. (From the National Archives)

General Groves responded to a query regarding the Nagasaki mission’s findings in his 1962 book, Now It Can Be Told: The Story of the Manhattan Project: ‘Because of the poor weather conditions at the target, we couldn’t obtain decent photo reconnaissance photos until nearly a week later.’ They revealed that 44% of the city had been destroyed. The disparity in outcomes between Nagasaki and Hiroshima was owing to the adverse topography, which restricted the region of maximum damage to 2.3 miles by 1.9 miles due to hills and valleys. The US Strategic Bombing Survey subsequently concluded that 35,000 people were killed and 60,000 were wounded.’

The Fat Man explosion was believed to have had a force of 22,000 tons of TNT. The bigger explosion had been contained by the high slopes. Despite the fact that the industrial area had been leveled, it had resulted in fewer deaths than Little Boy.

Following the Nagasaki mission, a series of events occurred rapidly. On August 9, Russia declared war on Japan. Emperor Hirohito addressed the Japanese Supreme Council on that day. ‘I can no longer tolerate seeing my innocent people suffer,’ he added. ‘The only way to restore global peace and alleviate the country of the tremendous suffering with which it is burdened is to end the war.’

On August 14, the Japanese declared that they had accepted unconditional surrender. On September 2, 1945, at 10:30 a.m. Tokyo time, Japanese diplomats signed the surrender papers aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, formally ending World War II.

Although the 509th flew a few pumpkin bombing flights between the second A-bomb drop and the surrender declaration on August 14, the Nagasaki operation effectively ended the war. 


C.V. Glines wrote this essay, which first appeared in the January 1997 edition of Aviation History. Subscribe to Aviation History Magazine now for more excellent stories!


The bombing of Hiroshima ended the war quickly and effectively. The city was destroyed, but the Japanese were already on the verge of surrender when the bomb was dropped. The bombing of Nagasaki two months later ended the war at a much greater cost. Even though the bombing of Hiroshima ended the war quickly and effectively, it was succeeded by the bombing of Nagasaki that ended the war at a much greater cost. The bomb was the culmination of nearly a century of scientific and military research into military weaponry, and ultimately led to the atomic bomb.. Read more about which u.s. president gave the order to drop the atomic bomb? and let us know what you think.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Did the Hiroshima bomb end the war?

The atomic bombings of Japan ended World War II. But, it did not end the war in the Japanese archipelago. It ended the war in the Pacific. Q: How to make a good Minecraft server? In order to make a good Minecraft server, you need to have

What bombs were used in World War 2?

Due to the nature of bombs used in World War II, there is no single answer to this question. However, one of the most commonly used bombs was the blockbuster, which was a type of bomb that was used in Germany. It was used to destroy buildings and other structures. Q

Was the atomic bomb necessary to end the war?

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This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • hiroshima
  • why was the atomic bomb dropped
  • how many american soldiers would have died if we invaded japan
  • reasons why the atomic bomb was necessary
  • atomic bomb dropped to intimidate russia
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