Paul Tibbets, Jr. and Enola Gay

paul_w_tibbets_usaf_bio_photo.jpgColonel Paul W. Tibbets Jr. died November 1, 2007 at the age of 92 years. He was the pilot of the Enola Gay an American B-29 bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, August 6, 1945. At least 80,000 people died instantly with thousands more dying later of radiation sickness.

Nuclear war was introduced to the world. The result was a quick end to the Second World War. The war against Japan lasted from December 7, 1941 until September 1945 when Japan finally surrendered. It took two atomic bombs dropped on Japan to force a surrender. Even then they reluctantly surrendered.

Although horrific events, the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagaski did finally end the war without having to invade Japan. Military experts generally agree that the eventual invasion of the Japanese homeland would have resulted in a terrible loss of life both for the American invaders and the Japanese defenders. The war would also have lasted at least another two years. The Japanese were fanatical and were fighting to the death. This was illustrated by the blood baths of Iwo Jima and later of Okinawa both of which we parts of the Japanese homeland. One can only imagine the terrible carnage that would have resulted from an invasion of the main Japanese islands.

atomic_cloud_over_hiroshima.jpgPresident Harry Truman approved the plans for the invasion of Japan on June 18, 1945. The initial assault by over 800,000 troops was scheduled to begin November 1, 1945 followed by an attack of 1.2 million troops. It was estimated that it would take over 10 years to wipe out the last pockets of resistance with total American losses of one million men. (Left: Atomic cloud over Hiroshima)

The lasting result was the real fear of the consequences of a nuclear war and what it would do to earth’s civilization. The destruction of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagaski pale in comparison to what a nuclear attack could do today. Modern nuclear weapons are smaller in size, but with many times more destruction power than the small yield weapons dropped then.

485px-tibbets-wave.jpgColonel Tibbets was never proud of the result, but he did his duty in an all-out war. He saved countless lives by completing his mission. Let’s hope that such a mission is never necessary again.

(Left: Tibbets waving from the Enola Gay the day of the mission)

Note: All photos in this article are official U.S Air Force photos and are in the public domain.

3 Responses to Paul Tibbets, Jr. and Enola Gay

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  2. jimbonita says:

    Fortunately, you have noted the importance of the demonstration of nuclear devices in its role in subsequent deterrence. That point is often forgotten in the rush to condemn nuclear weaponry.

    The use of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki to speed the end of World War II did have a secondary benefit. It gave the world dramatic examples of the horrific results of using atomic weapons. Without those examples, the tensions of the cold war could easily have led to their use during the era of mutually assured destruction. The Cuban Missile Crisis was an event which could have easily led to the exchange of such weapons. The use of megaton-class weapons would have been far more devastating than the two kiloton-class weapons used in Japan. Clearly, the real example of the use of atomic weapons was a deterrent thereafter to both antagonists.

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