Colonel Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr., the pilot of the B-29 Superfortress named the Enola Gay for his mother, lifted off with his crew from Tinian before daylight on Aug. 6, 1945.
Before the day was over, the world had been changed forevermore after the Enola Gay’s 9,000-pound atomic bomb fueled with uranium-235 was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
Hiroshima with a population of 245,000 was selected as the military target for the first atomic bomb because it was the only Japanese city on the U.S. Military’s list of target cities that did not have a prison camp for members of the Allied Forces.
Tibbets flew the B-29 at 31,600’ to deliver “Little Boy,” the name given to the atomic bomb, and at 8:15 a.m. the bomb was dropped from the Superfortress’ bomb bay, giving birth to the “Atomic Age” when a thermal blast hotter than the sun’s surface devastated the city beneath the towering mushroom cloud that rose from the fireball.
The shockwave that followed the blast flattened most of the buildings up to two miles from the point of the explosion, and more than 100,000 Japanese, mostly civilians, perished immediately.
Following the blast and devastating shock wave, “black rain,” radioactive fallout, fell, burning the exposed skin of all who came into contact with it.
Many thousands more died from the radioactive fallout, and after a second atomic bomb dubbed “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki, killing another 50,000 on impact on Aug. 9, 1945, Emperor Hirohito unconditionally surrendered.
World War II officially ended onboard U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945, when Japanese representatives met with General MacArthur and signed the official instrument of surrender.
As for Tibbetts, he retired from the military with the rank of Brigadier General in 1966.