- Enola Gay
name ="Enola Gay"
Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Paul Tibbetswaving from "Enola Gay"'s cockpit before taking off for the bombing of Hiroshima. (USAF Photo)
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The "Enola Gay" is the name of the
B-29 Superfortress bomberthat dropped the first atomic bomb, code-named " Little Boy", to be used in war, by the United States Army Air Forces(USAAF) in the attack on Hiroshima, Japanon 6 August 1945, just before the end of World War II. Because of the bomber's role in the atomic bombings of Japan, its name has been synonymous with the controversy over the bombings themselves. The B-29 was named after Enola Gay Tibbets, the mother of the pilot, Paul Tibbets. [ [http://www.acepilots.com/usaaf_tibbets.html Paul Tibbets Commanded Enola Gay, dropped first atomic bomb on Hiroshima] , "AcePilots.com". Retrieved: 19 December 2007.]
The "Enola Gay" gained additional national attention in 1995 when the cockpit and nose section of the aircraft was exhibited at the
National Air and Space Museum(NASM) of the Smithsonian Institutionin downtown Washington, D.C.The exhibit was changed due to a controversy over original historical script displayed with the aircraft. In 2003, the entire restored B-29 "Enola Gay" went on display at NASM's new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
World War II history
The "Enola Gay" (B-29-45-MO, serial number 44-86292 [ "Enola Gay B-29". Columbus, Ohio: Mid Coast Marketing, 2001. [http://www.theenolagay.com/plane.html Enola Gay] Retrieved:
19 December 2007.] , victor number 82) was assigned to the USAAF's 393d Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, 509th Composite Group. Knaack, Marcelle Size. "Post-World War II bombers, 1945-1973". Washington: Office of Air Force History, 1988. ISBN 0-16-002260-6.] The bomber was one of 15 B-29s with the " Silverplate" modifications necessary to deliver nuclear weapons. "Enola Gay" was built by the Glenn L. Martin Companyat its Bellevue, Nebraskaplant at what is now known as Offutt Air Force Baseand was personally selected by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., commander of the 509th Composite Group, on 9 May 1945while still on the assembly line. This would be the B-29 that he would use to fly the atomic bomb mission.
The Enola Gay was accompanied by two other B-29s, Necessary Evil which was used as a camera plane to photograph the explosion and effects of the bomb and carry scientific observers, and
The Great Artistewhich was the blast measurement instrumentation aircraft.
The aircraft was accepted by the USAAF on
18 May 1945, and assigned to Crew B-9 (Captain Robert A. Lewis, aircraft commander), who flew the bomber from Omaha to the 509th's base at Wendover Army Air Field, Utahon 14 June 1945. Thirteen days later, the aircraft left Wendover for Guam, where it received a bomb bay modification, and flew to Tinianon 6 July. It was originally given the victor number "12," but on 1 Augustwas given the circle R tail markings of the 6th Bomb Group as a security measure and had its victor changed to "82" to avoid misidentification with actual 6th BG aircraft.
During July of that year, after the bomber flew eight training missions and two combat missions to drop
pumpkin bombs on industrial targets at Kobeand Nagoya, "Enola Gay" was used on 31 Julyon a rehearsal flight for the actual mission. A "dummy" Little Boyassembly was dropped off Tinian.
5 August 1945, during preparation for the first atomic mission, pilot Colonel Paul Tibbetswho assumed command of the aircraft, renamed the B-29 after his mother, Enola Gay Tibbets (1893–1983), who, coincidentally, had been named for the heroine of a novel. According to Gordon Thomasand Max Morgan-Witts[ Thomas 1977 ] , regularly assigned aircraft commander Robert Lewis was unhappy to be displaced by Tibbets for this important mission, and became furious when he arrived at the aircraft on the morning of 6 Augustto see it painted with the now-famous nose art. Tibbets himself, interviewed on Tinian later that day by war correspondents, confessed that he was a bit embarrassed at having attached his mother's name to such a fateful mission.
The Hiroshima mission had been described as tactically flawless, and "Enola Gay" returned safely to its base on Tinian to great fanfare on the base. The first atomic bombing was followed three days later by another B-29 ("
Bockscar") [ [http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=2546 Bockscar] ] (piloted by Major Charles W. Sweeney) which dropped a second nuclear weapon, " Fat Man", on Nagasaki. The Nagasaki mission, by contrast, had been described as tactically botched, although the mission had met its objectives. The crew encountered a number of problems in execution, and " Bockscar" had very little fuel by the time it landed on Okinawa. [ [http://hiroshima-remembered.com/history/nagasaki/page3.html The Story of Nagasaki: The Missions] ] On that mission, "Enola Gay", flown by Crew B-10 (Capt. George Marquardt, aircraft commander, see "Necessary Evil" for crew details), was the weather reconnaissance aircraft for Kokura.
6 November 1945, Lewis flew the "Enola Gay" back to the United States, arriving at the 509th's new base at Roswell Army Air Field, New Mexico, on 8 November. On 29 April 1946, "Enola Gay" left Roswell as part of Operation Crossroadsand flew to Kwajaleinon 1 May. It was not chosen to make the test drop at Bikini Atolland left Kwajalein on 1 July, the date of the test, and reached Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Field, California, the next day.
The decision was made to preserve the aircraft, and on
24 July 1946, the plane was flown to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, in preparation for storage. On 30 August 1946, the title to the aircraft was transferred to the Smithsonian Institutionand was removed from the USAAF inventory. From 1946 to 1961, the "Enola Gay" was put into temporary storage at a number of locations:
1 September 1946, Davis-Monthan AFB
3 July 1949, Orchard Place Air Field, Park Ridge, Illinois, flown there by Gen. Tibbets for acceptance by the Smithsonian.
12 January 1952, Pyote Air Force Base, Texas, moved after O'Hare International Airport's location was announced
2 December 1953, Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland
10 August 1960, disassembly at Andrews begun by personnel of the Smithsonian
21 July 1961, components transported to Smithsonian storage facility at Suitland, Maryland.
Restoration of the bomber began on
5 December 1984, at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Suitland.
"Enola Gay" became the center of a controversy at the
Smithsonian Institutionin 1994, when the museum put its fuselage on display as part of an exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The exhibit, "The Crossroads: The End of World War II, the Atomic Bomb and the Cold War", was drafted by the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museumand arranged around the restored "Enola Gay".
Critics of the exhibit, especially those of the
American Legionand the Air Force Association, charged that the exhibit focused too much attention on the Japanese casualties inflicted by the nuclear bomb, rather than on the motivations for the bombing or the discussion of the bomb's role in ending the World War II conflict with Japan. The exhibit brought to national attention many long-standing academic and political issues related to retrospective views of the bombings (see " Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki"). As a result, after various attempts to revise the exhibit in order to meet the satisfaction of competing interest groups had failed, the exhibit was cancelled on 30 January 1995, though the fuselage did go on display. On 18 May 1998, the fuselage was returned to the Garber Facility for final restoration.
The entire aircraft has since been restored for static display and is currently a major permanent exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum's
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Centernear Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C. As a result of the earlier controversy, the signage around the aircraft provides only the same succinct technical data as other aircraft in the museum, without discussion of the controversial issues.
The aircraft is shielded by various means to prevent a repetition of the vandalism which was attempted against it when it was first placed on display. A
video analyticssystem was installed in 2005. Multiple surveillance cameras automatically generate an alarm when any person or object approaches the aircraft.
The four lightweight aluminum variable pitch propellers that were used on the bombing mission to save weight ended up at Texas A&M University.Fact|date=August 2008 One of them, trimmed to 12.5 ft, provides the thrust for the Oran W. Nicks Low Speed Wind Tunnel.Fact|date=August 2008 A 1,250 kVA electric motor provides constant revolutions (900 RPM) and the propeller's pitch/yaw is changed to control the windspeed (up to 200 mph) in the tunnel.Fact|date=August 2008
"Enola Gay"'s crew on
6 August, 1945consisted of 12 men:
(An * denotes regular crewmen of the "Enola Gay".)
* Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr. – Pilot and Aircraft commander
Robert A. Lewis– Co-pilot; "Enola Gay"'s assigned aircraft commander*
Major Thomas Ferebee– Bombardier
* Captain Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk – Navigator
* U.S. Navy Captain William S. "Deak" Parsons – Weaponeer and bomb commander
Lieutenant Jacob Beser– Radar countermeasures (also the only man to fly on both of the nuclear bombing aircraft)
Second Lieutenant Morris R. Jeppson– Assistant weaponeer
Technical SergeantGeorge R. "Bob" Caron – Tail gunner*
* Technical Sergeant Wyatt E. Duzenberry –
SergeantJoe S. Stiborik – Radar*
* Sergeant Robert H. Shumard – Assistant flight engineer*
Private First ClassRichard M. Nelson – Radiooperator*
* [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher2/b29.html Boeing B-29 Superfortress."Baugher's Encyclopedia of American Aircraft"] Retrieved:
4 November 2007.
* Bowers, Peter M.
Boeing B-29 Superfortress. Stillwater, Minnesota: Voyageur Press, 1999. ISBN 0-933424-79-5.
* Campbell, Richard H. "The Silverplate Bombers: A History and Registry of the Enola Gay and Other B-29s Configured to Carry Atomic Bombs". Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005. ISBN 0-7864-2139-8.
* [http://www.mphpa.org/classic/CG/CG_02A.htm 509th CG Aircraft Page, MPHPA]
* Hess, William N. "Great American Bombers of WW II". St. Paul, Minnesota: Motorbooks International, 1999. ISBN 0-76030-650-8.
* LeMay Curtis and Bill Yenne. "Super Fortress". London: Berkley Books, 1988. ISBN 0-425-11880-0.
* Mann, Robert A. "The B-29 Superfortress: A Comprehensive Registry of the Planes and Their Missions". Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2004. ISBN 0-7864-1787-0.
* [http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=527 National Museum B-29 Superfortress] Official Fact Sheet] Retrieved:
11 August 2007.
* Pace, Steve. "Boeing B-29 Superfortress". Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wiltshire, United Kingdom: Crowood Press, 2003. ISBN 1-86126-581-6.
* Thomas, Gordon and Max Morgan Witts. "Enola Gay". New York: Stein & Day Publishing, 1977. ISBN 0-81282-150-5.
* Wheeler, Keith. "Bombers over Japan". Virginia Beach, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1982. ISBN 0-8094-3429-6.
* [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/0,9263,7601050801,00.html Eyewitnesses to Hiroshima Time magazine,
* [http://www.warbirdforum.com/hirodead.htm How many died at Hiroshima? analysis of the conflicting estimates]
* [http://www.nasm.si.edu/exhibitions/gal103/gal103_former.html The Smithsonian's site on "Enola Gay' includes links to crew lists and other details]
* [http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/peacesite/English/Stage1/S1-1E.html The reality of A-bomb Disasters]
* [http://www.lehigh.edu/%7Eineng/enola/ The Enola Gay Smithsonian Controversy]
* [http://www.afa.org/new_root/enolagay/ The Air Force Association's (a civilian organization) view of the Smithsonian controversy]
* [http://www.afa.org/media/enolagay/ Enola Gay Archive]
* [http://alsos.wlu.edu/qsearch.aspx?browse=warfare/Enola+Gay Annotated bibliography for the Enola Gay from the Alsos Digital Library]
*SMU's [http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/all/cul/fjd Frank J. Davis World War II Photographs] contain [http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=/fjd 310 images] , including [http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm4/results.php?CISOOP1=any&CISOBOX1=enola+gay&CISOFIELD1=CISOSEARCHALL&CISOROOT=%2Ffjd 3 of the Enola Gay] .
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