The Day Clouds Saved Kokura & America Bombed Nagasaki Instead

The Day Clouds Saved Kokura & America Bombed Nagasaki Instead

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9 August 1945

Three days after the US dropped “Little Boy”, the atomic bomb on Japan’s military hub Hiroshima, the second bomb “Fat Boy” was dropped on the military port city of Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 instantly on 9 August.

Tens of thousands died later in both cities from the effects of the nuclear bombs. Their destructive power was unprecedented, incinerating buildings and people, and leaving lifelong scars on survivors, both physical and psychological, and on the cities themselves.

Did You Know? Nagasaki was not America’s primary target. It was Kokura. Cloud cover saved Kokura that fateful day of 9 August 1945. By the time the B-29 Superfortress bomber plane ‘Bockscar’ (piloted by Major Charles Sweeney) got near to its primary target, Kokura, it became clear that the weather had saved the city. The city was covered by cloud. Sweeney made three runs over the city but could find not break. With lack of fuel an issue, he decided to move to his only other target – Nagasaki. Sweeney only had enough fuel for one run over the city and not enough to fly back to the air base at Tinian Bay. 

Little Boy & Fat Man: Tragedy Like Never Before

On 6 August 1945, during World War II, the U.S. B-29 bomber Super-fortress Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb code-named “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, Japan. (Nearly 80,000 people are believed to have been killed immediately, with possibly another 60,000 survivors dying of injuries and radiation exposure by 1950.)

Three days later, the United States exploded a nuclear device over Nagasaki.

Six days after that, Imperial Japan surrendered.

The devastation caused by the two bombings is a tragedy of mammoth proportions. United States dropped the two bombs under orders from the then US President Harry Truman. The US President had called it a revenge for the Pearl Harbour bombing by the Japanese in 1941.

A badly burned nuclear bomb victim from Hiroshima lies in quarantine. (Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/The Association of the Photographers of the Atomic Bomb Destruction of Hiroshima, Yotsugi Kawahara)
A badly burned nuclear bomb victim from Hiroshima lies in quarantine. (Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/The Association of the Photographers of the Atomic Bomb Destruction of Hiroshima, Yotsugi Kawahara)
The “Enola Gay” superbomber plane that carried the bomb “Little Boy” – that was dropped over Hiroshima on 6 August – was named for the the pilot’s mother Enola Gay Tibbets. (Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)
The “Enola Gay” superbomber plane that carried the bomb “Little Boy” – that was dropped over Hiroshima on 6 August – was named for the the pilot’s mother Enola Gay Tibbets. (Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)
“Little Boy” the nuclear bomb that wreaked havoc on 6 August at Hiroshima.
“Little Boy” the nuclear bomb that wreaked havoc on 6 August at Hiroshima.
Did You Know: Parsons, the Enola Gay’s weaponeer, was concerned about the possibility of an accidental detonation if the plane crashed in takeoff, so he decided not to load the four cordite powder bags into the gun breech until the aircraft was in flight. Parsons and his assistant, Second Lieutenant Morris R. Jeppson, made their way into the bomb bay along the narrow catwalk on the port side. Jeppson held a flashlight while Parsons disconnected the primer wires, removed the breech plug, inserted the powder bags, replaced the breech plug, and reconnected the wires. Before climbing to altitude on approach to the target, Jeppson switched the three safety plugs between the electrical connectors of the internal battery and the firing mechanism from green to red. The bomb was then fully armed. Jeppson monitored the bomb’s circuits. (Source: Wikipedia)
Victor Jorgensen’s iconic photograph of the V J Day kiss in Times Square when the news of Japan’s surrender arrived and the US Navy sailor kissed a nurse instantly.
Victor Jorgensen’s iconic photograph of the V J Day kiss in Times Square when the news of Japan’s surrender arrived and the US Navy sailor kissed a nurse instantly.

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

(The article was first published on 9 August 2016. It is being reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark the 73rd anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki.)

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