The United States may have dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945, but scientists were working on the project long before the atomic was needed.
In 1940, the United States began researching atomic weapons. The Office of Scientific Research and Development and the War Department were put in charge of the project dubbed The Manhatten Project.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were focused on building the facility.
Scientists worked for a couple of years on achieving nuclear fission, making uranium-235 and plutonium- 239. The materials went to Los Alamos, New Mexico, and turned into an atom bomb by J. Robert Oppenheimer and his team.
On July 16, 1945, the first successful test was completed of an atomic device was conducted, otherwise known as the Trinity test. German forces were defeated, but Japan would not surrender.
Forcing Our Hand
In that short time, the Japanese had racked up more Allied casualties than they had in three years of war. Toward the end of July, Allied forces asked Japan to surrender with the threat that the Japanese would face “prompt and utter destruction” if they would not.
Truman authorized the atomic bomb to be used to force the Japanese to surrender. Enola Gay was the B-29 charged with carrying the bomb called “Little Boy” to Hiroshima. The bomb would kill 80,000 people immediately, and 60,000 people would die from the fallout over the next few weeks.
Hiroshima was picked because the atomic bomb would cause the utmost destruction at that location. It also was considered to be the strongest psychological spot too for both the Japanese people and lawmakers.
Aftermath of the Bomb
The blast was incredibly intense. Shadows of people hit by it stood permanently marked into the ground and walls that still stood. After both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were dropped, radiation killed many more, with each person affected differently.
However brutal, the bomb achieved the desired result with Emperor Hirohito surrendering a couple of days after the bombs hit. Paul Tibbets, the Enola Gay’s pilot, died in 2007 and spread his ashes in the English Channel.
He did not want a headstone, fearing that people would deface it or that it would become a spot for anti-nuclear or anti-war protestors. He had flown the channel so many times. He felt it was best.