Model of Little Boy
On This Date in History:
At about 8 AM on August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was unleashed on Hiroshima, Japan. We all know the history
of that. Perhaps the greatest benefit of the atomic blast on Hiroshima and the subsequent dropping of “Fat Man”
on Nagasaki is that the world saw what the energy from such a weapon can do. President Truman was a little loose with the facts when he urged Japan to surrender or he promised a “reign of ruin” for the nation. Truth is, the US only had the two bombs and it would have taken awhile to make more.
The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was called “Little Boy”
and weighed nearly 10,000 pounds. It was flown to the target in a single B-29, which was piloted by Kentucky Paul Tibbets. Tibbets called the plane the Enola Gay, which was a reference to his mother. When the bomb was tested in the New Mexico desert about 6 weeks prior, a blind girl 120 miles away reportedly “saw” the light. The heat from the test gadget had turned the desert to glass. So, when the bombadier of the Enola Gay released the bomb, Tibbets banked the plane quickly to reduce the impact of the shock wave and to reduce the effect of the blinding flash at detonation. Navigator Dutch Van Kirk recalled the event vividly.
But, he banked so hard and headed away so fast at such an angle that the target was not seen until well after the initial blast. So, when you see video of the atomic bomb exploding just after detonation, you know that its of “Fat Man” and not “Little Boy” because the most complete footage was from the second blast at Nagasaki.
Col. Paul Tibbets
The bombadier had done his practice well. He missed the target by just 800 feet. But, one doesn’t have to be too close when using an atomic bomb. The release time was 8:15 AM. An air pressure detonator began the nuclear fission at 1980 feet at 8:16 AM. At that instant, 66,000 people were killed and 69,000 injured. Estimates vary but in the years to come, thousands more would die from their injuries, radiation sickness and cancers that were linked to the blast. The actual explosion was about 10 kilotons, or about 10,000 tons of TNT, though I’ve seen some sources site 20 kilotons. It is estimated today that the rather crude instrument only yielded an energy release just 1/50th of its capability. The nuclear weapon with the greatest yield ever produced by the United States was the Mk 41
, which had a blast equivalent of 25 million tons of TNT, though some sources claim it was 15 megatons.
Little Boy had a vaporization radius of about a half mile….everything within a half mile was vaporized. Total destruction occured within a 1 mile radius. Severe blast damage was felt within 1.75 miles of the detonation zone. Severe heat damage was felt within 2.5 miles with the living things that survive the blast and heat suffocate from fire burning up all the oxygen. Three miles out, fire and wind damage can still be found. Keep in mind that winds at this radius had fallen off to 98 mph. At its core, winds were estimated to be 320 mph. As a comparison, a 20 Megaton explosion (20 million tons of TNT) would have an optimum effect with a detonation at 17,500 feet. The vaporization radius of nearly 9 miles would be 18 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb. Total destruction would occur 14 miles out with severe blast damage conditions extending 27 miles from ground zero. Everything flammable would be burning at 31 miles and damaging winds of near 100 mph would stretch out some 35 miles. And keep this in mind…
Little Boy Tiny Compared to Tsar Bomb
The Soviet Union once designed a weapon, named the Tsar Bomb(aka Tsar Bomba, Big Ivan and King of Bombs),
to have a yield of 100 megatons, but it was only tested at 50 megatons to cut down on the fall out…so glad they cared. The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake yielded 9,560 gigatons of TNT, which I suppose is over 9.5 trillion tons of TNT, but that was at the core. The surface rupture energy release was just 26 megatons. An earthquake in Chile in 1960 is said to have released 60,000 gigatons of TNT energy equivalent. A typical Supernova has an energy release estimated to be around 10 octillian tons of TNT,which is 10 to the power of 28.
Tsar Would Obliterate Chicago
So, man can build much greater destructive mechanisms than the initial atomic blast in the New Mexico desert or the second in Hiroshima or the third in Nagasaki. But as the numbers bear out, man comes nothing remotely close to the energy release capability of nature, which is why some point out that it is rather arrogant to think that man can destroy the world. But that is little consolation to those who suffer at the still massive destructive capability of man. Atomic weapons have never have been used again thanks in large part to the awesomely devastating and tragic affect that “Little Boy” and then “Fat Man” brought on the Japanese Empire. Let us hope that is a lesson never lost on the world.
So, what about Snow White?
While Disney Studios has provided what could be the perfect wedding photo of my bride and I, my Snow White began her tale on this date in history. She entered a world of such complication and fear, yet, she has since pranced about spreading joy and love and happiness to all creatures great and small who have crossed her path. Even the uncontrolable Nit and Wit have fallen under her spell. Walt Disney had come up with his own version eighteen years earlier but the teenager was no match for the little infant. She grew up to be deemed an angel by many, a source of Faith and Hope to others and a wife to me. She gives so much to so many, that I have to remind her that its sometimes good to receive. Her volunteer work at the Cabbage Patch has been consistent and heart felt and the kids give her more love than I could ever muster in a single lifetime. As much as I try, I will never be able to live up to the ideals of a Prince, so instead I have taken on the role of Dopey and I now have Hope that I have a place on this planet. Anyone who has ever met Snow White knows that she is a truely blessed soul. The Lord was having a good day when he shared her with us on this date in history and every day since.