Kokura was the primary target. When Bockscar arrived at its assembly point off the coast of Japan, the third aircraft of its flight was not present. After waiting forty minutes to rendezvous, Bockscar and its instrumentation support plane proceeded to Kokura but found it now obscured by clouds. Maj. Sweeney had orders to drop the atomic bomb visually, and after conferring with weaponeer and bomb commander Cdr. Frederick Ashworth, flew on to Nagasaki, the secondary target.
A combination of factors including a possible malfunctioning transfer pump had made fuel consumption a critical factor. Ashworth did not want to be forced to dump the bomb into the sea and decided to make a radar bombing run if necessary. However, enough of an opening appeared in the cloud cover to allow the bombardier to confirm Nagasaki and the bomb was dropped with ground zero being about ¾ mile from the planned aiming point. This resulted in lower overall casualties than would have been otherwise, with much of the blast confined in the Urakami Valley.
The B-29 did not have sufficient fuel to reach the emergency landing field at Iwo Jima, so Maj. Sweeney flew the aircraft to Okinawa, where despite being unable to make contact with the control tower, made a safe landing with virtually empty fuel tanks.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Yesterday, Japan marked the 61st anniversary of the US atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. Three days later on that historic year, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Enola Gay may have been the more recognised of the two B-29 Superfortress bombers that were used for the atomic bomb drops, but it is the lesser known Bockscar that has the honour of being the aircraft that ended World War II. From Wikipedia:
Posted by I.Z. Reloaded at 12:44 PM
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