The first atomic bomb was dropped by the United States on Japan, in the year of 1945. This articles talks about the history and information related to this bomb.
The potential of atomic energy and its use for both civil and military purposes is something the world well comprehends and the same goes for its devastating capabilities. Still, there are only a handful of countries that have not expressed their wish to acquire it; that too for reasons such as their economic standing or national policy against nuclear acquisition. This article intends to highlight the facts and discuss the many terrible after effects of harnessing atomic energy in this form. First let’s look at the history of the first atomic bomb and then see where and why it was dropped and what devastating effects it had.
German scientist, Otto Hahn, Nobel Laureate in Nuclear Chemistry is credited with the invention of this bomb. He was the first to understand the possibility of an atomic nuclear chain reaction and the lethality of such a weapon on explosion. Just short of World War 2 in Aug 1939, on realization of Germany going ahead with programs of enriching Uranium-235, possibly to build an atomic bomb, a consortium of scientists under the leadership of Albert Einstein met US President Franklin D Roosevelt and apprised him of the repercussions. To cope up with the possible threat the Allies had no option, but to speed up production of one such weapon.
The US had to co-opt her allies and therefore, along with England and Canada, a secret endeavor to produce the atom bomb was undertaken, named “The Manhattan Project”. It had the patronage of the project “Tube Alloys,” code name of the British Nuclear Weapon Directorate, and the Canadian Chalk River Laboratories on the bank of River Ottawa which had the facilities to carry out studies of nuclear weapons. Their effort resulted in the first weapon named “the gadget”. The test was conducted on 16th July 1945, twenty days prior to the bombing in Hiroshima. The test site was “Trinity Site”, a place close to New Mexico (Alamogordo).
USSR also had information about The Manhattan Project, and didn’t want to be left behind in the race. Klaus Emil Julius Fuchs, a German physicist and a British citizen, was planted by them who succeeded in his mission, and kept supplying information to the USSR through a courier known as “Raymond” till 1946, when he was caught and subsequently sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in Mar 1950.
Prior to the attack, the then US President, Harry S Truman, in the Potsdam Declaration on 26th July, 1945, had urged the Japanese to call for an immediate surrender, lest all its armed forces would be destroyed. However, the warning was overlooked and success of the Declaration rendered futile. Allies had to finally strike, to teach Japan a lesson and Truman ordered the atomic bombing.
When and Where Was the Bomb Dropped?
Hiroshima (06 Aug 1945)
Strategic importance of Hiroshima, lies in the fact that it had industrial as well as military significance. It was housing the headquarters of the 5th Division and 2nd General Army, responsible for the defense of southern Japan. Besides these, Hiroshima had a heavy concentration of troops since it was an important communication center and logistics base. It made a more lucrative target since most of the houses and buildings, including industrial units, made of wood, were ideally suited for being susceptible to great fire hazards. It was exactly 08:15 in Hiroshima, when a B-29 bomber, piloted by Col Paul Tibbets, dropped the weapon nick named “Little Boy”. Some facts are enumerated as under.
- Shima Surgical Clinic was the one which came under direct impact.
- Around 200,000 people died.
- The blast was equivalent to 13 Kilotons of TNT.
- Approximately 75% buildings were damaged and destroyed.
Nagasaki (09 Aug 1945)
Nagasaki was an important sea port in southern Japan, it also had major military production units. Quite similar to Hiroshima, most of the buildings were made of wood. Once again a B-29 US bomber flown by Major CW Sweeney, was employed to target Nagasaki, code-named the “Fat Man”. The weapon was dropped when the clocks in Japan showed 11:02. Certain facts are as follows.
- At least 80,000 people lost their lives.
- The torpedo manufacturing unit, Mitsubishi-Urakami Ordnance Works, was completely destroyed, though the bomb exploded some 2 KM away.
- The explosion bore the lethality of 21 Kilotons of TNT.
Having seen some of the devastating effects, the precious human lives it took, and the impact it had on the environment; one realizes the potential of mass destruction it inflicted. Just make a wild guess on the lethality of the present day atomic weapons, whose potency is far more treacherous than what we had in 1945, when the first atomic bomb was dropped.