Just after 8am, local time, on August 6, 1945, Captain Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, navigator of the B-29 Superfortress named Enola Gay took control of the flight. He lined the plane up on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. At 8:16am, the bombardier, Major Thomas Ferebee. Ferebee fixed his Norden bombsight on his target aim point, the T-shaped Aioi Bridge, and released the 15 kiloton, Little Boy, uranium nuclear weapon Enola Gay was carrying and a new age began.
Below is Ground Zero showing the Aioi Bridge in center frame.
Surprisingly, this did not bring Japan to surrender. It took the Soviet invasion of Manchuria (an egregious and epic instance of military opportunism) and a second nuclear weapon on Nagasaki to convince Japan’s leadership to bow to the inevitable. Even then, Emperor Hirohito could not bring himself to utter the word “surrender” in his Imperial Rescript on August 15.
The debate still rages today on the academic left about the morality and justification of nuking Hiroshima. Back in 1995, when the Smithsonian Institution displayed the Enola Gay for the 50th anniversary of the bombing, it said the Japanese were “victimized” and that the bombing was “vengeance” for Pearl Harbor. One might have thought Nanking (as many as 500,000 Chinese, mostly civilians, killed for no apparent reason other than they were available) never happened. I say the debate rages in the academic left because normal, non-retarded people (an example of the addled thinking that concludes a frontal attack on Japan was preferable to the nuclear weapons has been dutifully produced by Christian Appy, a UMass professor writing at Slate) understand that given the tenacity of Japanese defenders in the Pacific and Southeast Asia that the physical conquest of Japan would have been a very bloody affair.
Indeed, in his attack on the decision he makes the utterly racist conclusion that the 200,000 +/- Japanese military and civilian personnel killed by the bombs makes the attack wrong because “only” 30-40,000 US troops would have been killed in an invasion of Kyushu (Appy refers to this as an invasion of the “Japanese Home Islands” but there were actually only two invasions planned: Olympic in November 1945 and Coronet in September 1946). In this, Appy assumes Japanese military casualties don’t count and the inevitable Japanese civilian casualties are simply the cost of doing business. This is basically the academic version of “the only good Jap is a dead Jap.”
He ignores the fact that Japanese military strength facing the first planned attack was in excess of 900,000 soldiers in addition to a planned levee en masse of civilians. Japanese military and civilian deaths in the first invasion alone would have exceeded 1 million. If you have doubts about this number consider that on Okinawa of 77,000 Imperial troops and 40,000 Okinawan levies only 7,000 prisoners were taken and as many as 150,000 Okinawan civilians were killed. US dead on Okinawa numbered nearly 12,000 with another 38,000 wounded.
Using the nuclear weapon on Hiroshima gets Professor Appy all sandy-vaginaed but it was a necessary act. Can you imagine the outcry, not to mention the verdict of history and left-wing twits like Appy, if we had tried to physically occupy Japan at a cost of another hundred thousand dead Americans and a few million dead Japanese when Truman had the ability to bring the war to a quick conclusion?