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There on the ‘North Field’ tarmac of Tinian Island, Marianas;
Taxis the sleek designed ‘Boeing B-29 Superfortress’ to ready for take-off.
Glistening, polished aluminum under the blaring floodlights filmed for posterity,
Maneuvers' the ‘Enola Gay’, chosen by the pilot and named after his mother.
With the ‘Victor number’ on the fuselage and ‘bomb group marking’ on the tail.
Built in Nebraska to ‘Silverplate’ specifications void of encumbrance,
In participation with the ‘Manhattan Project’ for atomic weapon’s delivery.
The bomber with pressurized cabin is stripped of gun turrets and protective armor;
While the bomb bay is modified to accommodate the payload with pneumatic doors fitted,
And a British bomb attachment and release system installed for reliance.
The four prop drive-engines are fuel-injection improved with better cooling,
And redesigned with reverse pitch propellers for braking power upon landing;
The ‘Enola Gay’ weighs in at 69,000 lbs. empty, (sixty-tons fully loaded),
And cruises at 220 miles-per-hour at a surface ceiling of 32,000 feet altitude,
Within a combat radius of 2,900 miles; costing $782,000 US (1945) dollars.
The mission; to drop a 16 kiloton, atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan,
Located fifteen hundred miles North from the island to the target area.
Overloaded, the B-29 bomber uses more than two miles of runway to liftoff,
And is escorted by two other ‘Superfortresses’ to record the historical event;
On a flight to terminate war with the Japanese, and changes world perspective.
Reality of annihilation is a possibility realized by the global community,
And that this remarkable planet or ours, is a lifeboat orbiting in the universe.
And usher’s in mankind’s genius to the nuclear age of devastating weaponry.
As the ‘Enola Gay’s’ bomb bay doors open and ‘Little Boy’ is dropped.
Then the pilot at full speed throttle veers the aircraft, to avoid aftershock.
‘Little Boy’ descends its six mile journey in forty-three seconds,
To detonate at a preset interval, two thousand feet over the cityscape.
A flash! Then a mushroom cloud balloons in the backdrop,
While the crew remain oblivious to the destruction incurring on the ground:
And compare the shock to the ack-ack of flak, from an anti-aircraft gun.
Twelve hours later, from ‘take-off to landing’ the bomber descends
Out of the afternoon sky and touches down safely; the mission a success.
A welcome party is present on Tinian Island with Top Brass dignitaries,
Who are cognizant of human cost in a ground invasion for Japan’s surrender,
On an island of limited logistics access and enemy preparedness.
1) Bomb Group (Bombardment Group): US aircraft categorized into four bomb groups during World War II. The B-29 Superfortress was classified as very heavy.
2) Enola Gay: manufactured May 18, 1945 by the Glenn L. Martin Co.; #82 at the Bellevue, Nebraska plant (model-B29-45-MO, serial #44-86292). Colonel Paul Tibbets personally selected the B-29 with the necessary alterations & modifications for the mission, and named the B-29 after his mother.
In 1949, the air force donated the ‘Enola Gay’ to the Smithsonian Institution. The restored ‘Enola Gay’ is on exhibition @ the National Air & Space Museum (NASM).
3) Victor number: identification assigned by the squadron. The ‘Enola Gay’s’ radio code was Victor 12. For security reasons for the mission, Colonel Tibbets changed the call sign to ‘Dimples 82.’
4) Tail markings: 6th. Bomb Group, 313th. Wing, North Field, Tinian (Circle R). Changed from the 509th. planes of the Marianas-based bomb groups (circle-forward pointing arrow) to avoid easy recognition.
5) Silverplate: code name for the US army air force participation in the Manhattan Project.
6) Manhattan Project: code name for the WW II secretive undertaking by the USA (with Great Britain & Canadian consent and contribution) to develop & produce the world’s first atomic weapon. On July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was detonated @ the Alamogordo, New Mexico test-facility.
7) Escorts: B-29 Superfortresses: 'The Great Artiste' – Observation/instrument plane; 'Necessary Evil' – Camera Plane.
8) Little Boy: code name for the uranium-235 enriched nuclear fission bomb; (10 ft. long by 28 in. dia., weighing 9,700 pounds). It was filled with 140 lbs. of the nuclear material, detonating the equivalent of 15 kilotons of TNT of explosives plus heat & radiation. In 1982 using mockup tests and evaluation, it revealed that 1 lb. of uranium-235 undergoing complete fission yields 8 kiloton TNT explosives. It was then estimated, that approx. 2 lbs. (1.5%) of the material underwent fission, yielding 15 kilotons of TNT explosives. 98.5% of the uranium-235 contributed nothing.
The bomb was dropped from an altitude of 31,060 ft. @ 0915 hrs. (0815 JST), Aug. 6, 1945. In a blast area of 1 mile in diameter with subsequent fires across 4.4 square miles; estimates in 1945 put casualties at 66,000 dead (of which 20,000 were Japanese military) & 69,000 injured.
‘Enola Gay’ was 11. 5 miles away when the bomb detonated.
9) Take-off to landing: ‘Enola Gay’ left North Field @ 0235 hrs. & landed twelve hours & 13 minutes later back on Tinian Island @ 1458 hrs.
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