The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945. The world would never be the same. This paper will discuss the significance of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and how they led to the success of the Allied forces. It will also discuss how the United States developed the atomic bomb, the decision to drop the bomb, the weakening of Japan, the actual bombing an destruction of both cities, the surrender of Japan and the impact the atomic bomb would have in the future.
During World War II, the United States was afraid that Germany would develop the atomic bomb first. Germany had taken over Norway, which was a heavy water supply and Czechoslovakia, which was a uranium supply. Both of these, water and uranium, were needed to make the atomic bomb. Therefore, the United States initiated a top secret program called the Manhattan Project. Even the Vice President didn't know about this project. The Manhattan Project cost over 2 billion dollars. Yet, Congress never voted to fund this program (Hoare, 1987, 10-14). Roosevelt authorized scientists to find out if an atomic bomb could be built. On December 2, 1942, scientists working in a secret laboratory under the bleachers of a football field in Chicago achieved the first man-made nuclear reaction. An atomic bomb could now be developed. Many scientists and other skilled workers participated in the making of the first atomic bomb. However, only few knew what they were making. In 1944, after D-Day, the Alsos (a troop sent to find how far the Germans had come in the building of the atomic bomb) radioed back that they had given up in their attempt to make it. Still, despite scientists' pleas with the President to discontinue it, the U.S. maintained the work on their atomic bomb (Conrad, 1982, 12-16). In Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was detonated in the desert. The bomb was much more explosive than scientists thought it would be. The 100 foot tower which housed the bomb was totally destroyed by the blast. ("World War II", 1997, 1-2). After the bomb exploded, Robert Oppenheimer, the head of the Manhattan Project, said, "Behold. I have become death, destroyer of worlds." (Hoare, 1987, 18)
When Harry Truman became President after Franklin D. Roosevelt's death, he appointed a committee to advise him about the atomic bomb. The committee was headed by Secretary of War, Henry Stimson. The committee argued about whether to drop the bomb on a Japanese city or to have a demonstration explosion in an isolated part of Japan. However, some committee members thought that the plane may be shot down or the bomb may not explode. Therefore, they decided not to have a demonstration bomb. The committee decided that the bomb needed to be dropped directly on a city. Stimson wrote the President, "We can propose no technical demonstration likely to bring an end to the war; we see no acceptable alternative to direct military use." Soon after that a group of scientists wrote Harry Truman asking not to drop the bomb on any city. They knew that the atomic bomb could cause too much destruction to be dropped on a populated area. Yet, the decision was made by the President. In order to save thousands of American's lives, the bomb would be dropped (Feinberg, 1995, 26-27).
The primary target in the bombing was Hiroshima. The day Hiroshima would be bombed was August 6, 1945 and it would be the first time ever that an atomic bomb would be dropped from a plane. Before the primary plane took off, four weather planes flew over Hiroshima, Niigata, Kokura, and Nagasaki. The weather over Hiroshima was perfect. The B-29 bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb was named the Enola Gay. It was named after the maiden name of the pilot's mother. With the atomic bomb in the plane, as well as many extra devices, the bomber was 15,000 pounds over weight. Only a few days before, four B-29 bombers that were over weight crashed during takeoff.
The Enola Gay took off from the island of Tinian, which the U.S. had conquered from Japan. The exact time it took off was 2:45 a.m.; it's destination was 1,500 miles away. The bomber's