Monday, August 6, 2007

Little Boy and Fat Man

Other than a false air raid warning early in the day, August 6, 1945 was a day just like any other day in Hiroshima. Everyone was going about their daily business - mothers, workers, nuns, and children. Even though the war loomed, and caused economic difficulty, Hiroshima was yet untouched by enemy attack, and everything was pretty much as it had always been. That was all about to change forever.

Earlier that morning, three specially equipped B-29 bombers had taken off from Tinian Air Field. One carried an experimental uranium gun device nicknamed
Little Boy, another aeroplane was rigged with special photographic equipment to document the event on film, and the third B-29 was designed to collect scientific data from the blast and its effects. The Little Boy waited in the womb of the B-29 named Enola Gay, after the mother of Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, who piloted her on this particular sortie. There were instructions not to drop the device unless visibility was good. After all, it was important to get good pictures. There were a few clouds, but they cleared in time to release the yet untested uranium weapon. 

Three days later, on August 9th, a different kind of atomic device was dropped on Nagasaki, this time a plutonium implosion device nicknamed Fat Man, (because of its fat and bulbous design), was loaded into a modified B-29 named Bock's Car, and took off from Tinian. Bock's Car was piloted by Major Charles W. Sweeney, and again there were two other B29's sent to rendezvous and document the event. 

What happened to all the pictures?

The official story is that none of the film from the Hiroshima drop turned out, except for one hand-held movie camera on board the Enola Gay, and three days later at Nagasaki, the other two planes failed to show up at rendezvous, so again, only low quality photos taken from Bock's Car are extant. Sounds suspicious to me. In my opinion, it seems more likely that when the gruesome images were viewed by policy makers, a decision was made to not make them public. One thing the newly established nuclear weapons complex didn't want was bad press, and images of entire populated cities vaporizing certainly isn't good publicity no matter what side you're on.

Approximately 70,000 were killed at
Hiroshima, and by the end of that year, 140,000 had died as a result of their injuries and radiation poisoning. Similarly in Nagasaki, even though the bomb missed its target by four miles, 40,000 were killed, and the death toll grew to 70,000 by the end of 1945. 

Legacy of Hiroshima documents many stories of children and mothers who witnessed, survived, and endured these terrible events. One boy had been playing with his younger brother, who he said was reaching out to touch a dragonfly on a fence, when suddenly his world was in dark chaos, and he never saw his brother again. It was reported that radioactive black rain fell on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mothers spent days and weeks frantically searching for their loved ones, while coughing and choking on the radioactive DUST.*

Poetique by Rhetro Zenberg
Musique by The Industrious Quartet of Fripp Levin Bruford and Belew

Sun is rising
Cool breeze blows from the bay
Children rising
Dawn of a new day
Boys are playing
Sisters praying
Mothers calling to those they love... encouraging fair play
War birds flying
Speedily on their way
Clouds are clearing
Making clear the way
Course is staying
Boys are praying
Fat Man falling
Mothers calling to those they love... its another air raid!
Are you listening? Can you hear me? Are you listening? Are you hiding?
New sun rising
Shock wave on its way
Houses burning
There's no place left to pray
No one playing
Bodies laying
Black rain falling
Mothers calling to those they love...
Can you hear me? Are you listening? Are you hiding in the hot DUST?