The Manhattan Project: Making the Atomic Bomb

Part V: The Atomic Bomb and American Strategy


Fat Man Being Readied.

Fat Man Plutonium Bomb Being Readied at Tinian.

Factional struggles and communications problems prevented Japan from meeting Allied terms in the immediate aftermath of Hiroshima. In the absence of a surrender announcement, conventional bombing raids on additional Japanese cities continued as scheduled. Then, on August 9, a second atomic attack took place. Taking off from Tinian at 3:47 a.m., Bock's Car (named after its usual pilot) headed for its primary target, Kokura Arsenal, located on the northern coast of Kyushu Island. Pilot Charles Sweeney found unacceptable weather conditions and unwelcome flak above Kokura. Sweeney made three passes over Kokura, then decided to switch to his secondary target even though he had only enough fuel remaining for a single bombing run. Clouds greeted Bock's Car as it approached Nagasaki, home to the Mitsubishi plant that had manufactured the torpedoes used at Pearl Harbor. At the last minute, a brief break in the cloud cover made possible a visual targeting at 29,000 feet and Bock's Car dropped her single payload, a plutonium bomb weighing 10,000 pounds and nicknamed Fat Man, at 11:01 a.m. The plane then veered off and headed to Okinawa for an emergency landing. Fat Man exploded 1,650 feet above the slopes of the city with a force of 21,000 tons of TNT.59 Fat Man killed 40,000 people and injured 60,000 more. Three square miles of the city were destroyed, less than Hiroshima because of the steep hills surrounding Nagasaki. By January 1946, 70,000 people had died in Nagasaki. The total eventually reached 140,000, with a death rate similar to that of Hiroshima. 60

The mushroom cloud rising over Nagasaki.

The mushroom cloud rising over Nagasaki.

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