The crew of Bockscar dropped the Fat Man bomb over Nagasaki 68 years ago today.
Over Nagasaki, August 9, 1945.
Our inside view of Bockscar, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the second atomic weapon used in wartime, got me reading about the Nagasaki bombing of August 9, 1945, which helped put an end to World War II after six long years of bloodshed.
The story of the Hiroshima bombing, just three days earlier, is better known. The Enola Gay and its pilot, Paul Tibbets (who commanded the 509th Composite Group responsible for nuclear missions), have become familiar names to the public over the years. Fewer people, though, can identify Charles “Chuck” Sweeney as the pilot of the bomber that left Tinian for Japan early on the morning of August 9, accompanied by five other B-29s, including Enola Gay. There was no fighter escort, so as not to draw attention.
Unlike the Hiroshima mission, Sweeney’s flight was tense and plagued by problems. Before leaving, the crew discovered a malfunction in a fuel pump that severely limited their range, and put in doubt whether they’d have enough fuel to return to Tinian. They decided to go anyway. The mood of the second ...