I love the yellow paint job and the dark sealant that was painted on the seams…“charlie brown” would have been a great name for that fat bomb…except charlie brown wouldn’t be “invented” until 1947…and that’s the only thing that I love about that bomb.
This is so interesting. The weapon of mass destruction seems so mundane. 70,000 people dead. And the main target, Kokura, was spared because of clouds. I had not known that. I’m also glad it was silent. I didn’t really want to hear some patriotic music playing or some News Reel narrator speaking.
I believe that the men signing their names was a common practice. But I couldn’t see if they wrote anything else. Does anyone know?
No need for hardhats when you’re working on an ATOMIC BOMB!
Somewhere down there was a guy who was in Hiroshima a few days earlier when it was bombed. After the horror there he went home to visit family. He survived both blasts. There was an episode of Radiolab that tells his story.
I’m glad they didn’t paint it with a funny or pinup picture, write a rude slogan on it, or joke around.
I have mixed feelings about dropping the bombs. I think they have a decent case that in total, that cost fewer lives than a ground war in Japan. I think that there must have been another way to use the bomb to head off the invasion without dropping it on people, though. (If I recall, one issue was that they weren’t sure it would work, so they didn’t want to call a big demo and then have a dud.)
War calls for such sickening calculations.
I’ve always had a jarring reaction to the mushroom cloud, in that despite the true horror of what is happening, there’s something beautiful about its movement. Like a sword or pistol with filigree work or precious stone inlays…such a contradiction between form and function.
I liked the silence too. It permitted me to project Paul Scott’s haunting cello composition 'And God Wept At Nagasaki."
Make sure to embiggen the video.
Bits of the annotations are dropped if you watch it in the embedded format.
I actually had the opposite happen - bits of the annotation were dropped once I embiggened the video and were returned when I went back to embedded size.
Two things struck me, watching this.
First, those guys weren’t dealing with an “atomic bomb”. Or, you know, they were, but not culturally. All the legitimate fears and science fiction and political posturing and everything else that we think of when we think of “atomic bomb” didn’t exist yet. Depending on the kinds of clearances these guys had, they might even have really had a good idea, scientifically, of what they were working on. It’s a big ass bomb. But, to many of them, that’s all it is. Just another bomb. That happens to be gigantic and that they’ve been told is big enough to potentially change the course of the war. And it’s the middle of a really brutal campaign in the Pacific, so these are also guys that are pretty hardened to bombing and death at this point. Basically, I’m surprised they didn’t paint a naked lady on it. Not because they’re assholes. But because of all the stuff they didn’t know and all the personal context they were dealing with. I’d love to know what they did write.
Second, the boiling glowing fire when that thing explodes, before it all turns to white cloud is the most horrifying thing I have ever seen.
While I sympathize with the sentiment (while it seems to be more or less inevitable at a population level, when you send a bunch of young adults to go forth and kill that they’ll still keep joking and otherwise carrying on because the alternative just isn’t tenable); but the one thing that makes me a trifle uncomfortable (though it’s far from confined to your post, it runs through the entire ‘talking about the atomic bombings’ genre) is the tendency to set the atom bombs apart, as something special, different, somber, historically unique.
I’m always a bit nervous that that tendency, while it looks and feels like the opposite, is whitewash. Atomic warheads were, by far, the most effective bombs the US fielded during WWII, per bomb; but allied (and in practice, American; because we had the industrial base to field that many aircraft) policy explicitly endorsed “Saturation bombing” of civilian population centers, and if you have enough of them mundane high explosives and incendiaries will flatten a city just as well(better, in fact, the firebombing of Tokyo was more lethal and destructive, though it took far more bombers).
Given the capabilities of later, cold war era nuclear and thermonuclear weapons, I can see why the actual use of such takes on a certain special salience; but it seems important not to overemphasize that to the exclusion of the fact that those bombings were not an aberration; but just two more cities on the list of civilian population centers deliberately annihilated by the allied air forces.
You can’t look at these moments without the snarl of Cold War politics buzzing in the background, but they are awesome. I mean this in the actual sense of “inspiring awe,” not the trite term for anything more than mundane. The FAT MAN design, shown here used implosion of shaped charges to achieve criticality and runaway reaction that killed all those people. Basically, they detonated some dynamite around a hollow “ball” of fissile material, which crushes the ball and makes it supercritical and kills the whole world.
Now consider hydrogen bombs–consider what they are. We are igniting a small star so we can convince others of our strength. We have come from agile apes than can throw rocks really well to literally constructing stars that we throw at each other over territorial disputes.
I know a single word that proves our democratic government is capable of committing obscene, gleefully rabid, racist, yahooistic murder, of unarmed men, women, and children. Murders wholly devoid of military common sense. The word is a foreign word, the word is Nagasaki. —Kurt Vonnegut
We are still just apes throwing shit at each other over territorial disputes – we haven’t grown at all…
I always enjoy RAW’s take on it:
Since a great deal of primate behavior was considered just awful, most of the domesticated primates spent most of their time trying to conceal what they were doing. Some of the primates got caught by other primates. All of the primates lived in dread of getting caught. Those who got caught were called no-good shits. The term no-good shit was a deep expression of primate psychology. For instance, one wild primate (a chimpanzee) taught sign language by two domesticated primates (scientists) spontaneously put together the signs for "shit" and "scientist" to describe a scientist she didn't like. She was calling him shit-scientist. She also put together the signs for "shit" and "chimpanzee" for another chimpanzee she didn't like. She was calling him shit-chimpanzee. "You no-good shit," domesticate primates often said to each other. This metaphor was deep in primate psychology because primates mark their territories with excretions, and sometimes they threw excretions at each other when disputing over territories. One primate wrote a long book describing in vivid detail how his political enemies should be punished. He imagined them in an enormous hole in the ground, with flames and smoke and rivers of shit. This primate was named Dante Alighieri. Another primate wrote that every primate infant goes through a stage of being chiefly concerned with biosurvival, i.e. food, i.e. Mommie's Titty. He called this the Oral Stage. He said the infant next went on to a stage of learning mammalian politics, i.e. recognizing the Father (alpha male) and his Authority and territorial demands. He called this, with an insight that few primates shared, the Anal Stage. This primate was named Freud. He had taken his own nervous system apart and examined his component circuits by periodically altering its structure with neuro-chemicals. Among the anal insults exchanged by domesticated primates when fighting for their space were: "Up your ass," "Go shit in your hat," "You're full of shit," "Take it and stick it where the moon doesn't shine," and many others. One of the most admired alpha males in the Kingdom of the Franks was General Canbronne. General Canbronne won this adulation for the answer he once gave when asked to surrender at Waterloo. "Merde," was the answer General Canbronne gave. When primates went to war or got violent in other ways, they always said they were about to knock the shit out of the enemy. They also spoke of dumping on each other. The primates who had mined Unistat with nuclear bombs intended to dump on the other primates real hard.
Am I the only one who sees the irony of having the most powerful weapon created by man being maneuvered into position with the basic technology of a cart and shirtless men using chains and pulleys?
All I could think about as I watched that (in silence, as you mention), was the banality of evil.
What fucking monstrosity. It’s a shame we don’t speak about what was done there more often. Vaporizing 70000 men, woman and children is not an act of patriotism, or prevention. It’s mass murder.
War is hell.
I suggest using the Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds posted a little earlier as soundtrack.
I think if I was painting an H bomb, I might just keep my shirt on.