We visited the Enola Gay: On October 1, 2022, the 19FortyFive team went to the National Air and Space Museum to take fresh footage and photos of some of the most impressive planes on Earth. We were lucky to get right up close to the SR-71, Bell X-1, X-35, and the NASA Discovery Space Shuttle.
But no visit to this incredible museum would be complete unless we got as close as we could to the B-29 Enola Gay. Yes, that is the bomber that dropped the very first nuclear weapon in anger. We have some really interesting original video and photos below.
Meet the Enola Gay
With talk of the potential use of nuclear weapons by Russia in Ukraine, it is illustrative to examine the original nuclear attacks on Japan and the famous airplane that took part in both nuclear bombing missions. Seventy-seven years ago, the Enola Gay, a B-29 bomber, dropped the first nuclear device on Hiroshima, an act that unleashed the nuclear age. The Enola Gay changed how we viewed warfare, and it provided a horrifying use case of the atomic bomb’s power.
Special Airplane for Special Mission
The Enola Gay B-29 was built for the purpose of nuclear war. It was manufactured in 1945 with silver plates to guard against nuclear fallout. Protections against conventional munitions were removed to save weight to carry a 10,000-pound bomb. Gun turrets were eliminated to make the airplane lighter – only a tail gunner remained for the defense of the bomber.
Before it received its memorable nickname, the airplane was originally dubbed the Number 82. Pilots flew it to New Mexico and then on to Tinian in the Mariana Islands where the crew rehearsed loading a device and then flew practice flights for the bombing run.
How Did the Enola Gay Get Its Name?
Colonel Paul Tibbets Jr. selected Number 82 and renamed it Enola Gay after his mother. Soon it was time for the real mission that would change everything. On August 6, 1945, Enola Gay took the 10,000-pound uranium-enriched bomb to Hiroshima. The flight had seven airplanes with two observation aircraft. A crew member armed the device in the bomb bay. The Enola Gay was flying at 26,000 feet. When reaching the target, the bombardier dropped the 10-foot-long bomb, and it exploded 1,800 feet above the city with a force of 15,000 to 20,000 tons of TNT. It created a temperature of at least a million degrees Celsius and a huge fireball 840 feet wide.
The Japanese Tried to Warn the Citizens
An unknown aspect of the flight was that the Japanese radar picked up the airplanes and tried to warn the inhabitants of the city. But many ignored the warning. The mission was to aim for a bridge near the center of the city. When Little Boy burst, 80 to 140,000 people immediately perished. One hundred thousand were wounded and tens of thousands would die in the coming weeks due to radiation exposure. The blast registered as far as 37 miles away. It blew up two-thirds of Hiroshima’s structures. While reacting to the unleased horror, the Enola Gay’s co-pilot, Captain Robert Lewis, asked, “My God, what have we done?”
Enola Gay Was on the Nagasaki Mission Too
The nuclear attack on Japan was not over. Three days later Nagasaki was bombed by Fat Man. Enola Gay did not drop that device, instead, a B-29 known as Bockscar did the deed. The Enola Gay was on that mission too, as a weather observation airplane that made sure the skies were clear for the bombing run. After Nagasaki, Enola Gay took part in the Bikini Atoll nuclear tests between 1946 and 1958.
Work to Restore It
The Enola Gay was retired and disassembled in 1960 and the components resided at Andrews Air Force Base after being donated to the Smithsonian. In 1984, workers began putting it back together in a restoration project that took 10 years. More detailed work ensued, and the airplane wasn’t fully ready for the public to see until 2003. It was finally put on display at the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.
Expert Biography: Serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.
October 7, 2022 at 7:32 pm
US dropped nukes on Japan even though that nation was already on its knees with total defeat an absolute certainty.
It shows the ruthlessness of US as it realized that it had started to possess newfound tremendous military weapons and power.
Reasons have been given to justify the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki over the decades since the bombings.They’re patently massive lies and falsehoods.
Many more valid reasons exist for the nuke strikes but the main one was to test the newfangled weapons on live human guinea pigs.
Hiroshima was selected for the uranium core weapon while the second target was hit with the plutonium based device.
Kure the naval headquarters was strangely spared but civilian cities full of old folks, women, children and babies were selected.
The imperial palace in Tokyo, the lair of one of the worst of the wartime criminals was also spared, even during devastating b-29 raids that killed hundreds of thousands of helpless civilians.
Ii reveals rise of unmatched callousness of US as it started to feel great power was growing in its hands.
US callousness grew into nam, Iraq, panama, Afghanistan and the endless wars since George h w bush’s new world order. Today, right now we have Ukraine and warning of risk of nuclear Armageddon warning by Biden.
US needs to go to hell asap to spare mankind the dreaded apocalypse. The nightmare designed for world by Babylon.
October 8, 2022 at 2:52 am
USA not only nuclear bombed Japan using b-29 bombers, it also nuclear bombed the island republic of Marshall islands.
After bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Washington bombed Marshall islands with about 67 nuclear weapons totalling over 108 megatons of high explosive power, or about 1.5 Hiroshima bomb each day for 12 straight years.
No country in the world has such a stupendous record.
Today, USA has the us air force global strike command equipped with mega b-52 bombers, b-2 stealth bombers and coming b-21 raider stealth bombers ready to hurl more nuclear weapons on foreign countries.
Just a day or so ago, zelenskiyy the US-NATO puppet of Europe openly urged for pre-emptive nuclear strikes on Russia.
Zelenskiyy no doubt has been well informed by his CIA & DoD handlers about the existence of the US document for joint nuclear operations (JNO), formulated and promulgated during George w bush era.
JNO is still valid and active today under Biden, the dementia-ailed 80-yr-old pres of USA. It calls for pre-emptive nuclear strike on any foreign nations deemed as active threats, asserting that nuclear war is thoroughly winnable for US due to its global ABM shield and large amount of nuclear warheads.
Today, US has up to twice the quantity of nukes or a 2:1 advantage over its best rival.
US has at least 1,800 nukes available for immediate use whereas Russia has 1,000 at most but in all probability far less than that.
So, USA is clearly the most dangerous threat to humanity today, the one single country that has nuclear bombed other countries and ready to bomb even more to support loyal puppets like zelenskiyy.
October 8, 2022 at 7:41 am
403Forbidden ignores the FACT that the Japanese were psyched to commit national suicide and an invasion would have been hideously expensive in KIA & WIA for us not to mention the Japanese. My Chinese wife has NO sympathy for the owners of Unit 731 and the Rape of Nanking and many other atrocities. Japan started WWII and we finished it for them. They didn’t have the smarts to surrender-too bad for them.
October 8, 2022 at 10:48 am
“It was manufactured in 1945 with silver plates to guard against nuclear fallout.”
You are no expert if you write utter twaddle like this.
December 14, 2022 at 11:47 am
Twenty two million Russian lives lost during WWII. Fourteen Million of those were civilians and thats just Russian lives. A couple of hundred thousand Japanese lives lost after those two bombs – which ended the war once and for all. Yet everyone conveniently forgets to compare those starkly contrasting numbers when talking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It’s also conveniently forgotten that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen because they were major industrial centres and not because the civilian population was being targeted.