Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for August 8, 2015

Liveblogging History: August 9, 1945: Nagasaki


Alex Wellerstein: What About the Bombing of Nagasaki?:

At 3:47 A.M. on August 9, 1945, a B-29 Superfortress took off from the American airbase on the island of Tinian, in the North Pacific Ocean. Operation Centerboard II.... Bockscar had been stripped of most of its armor and weaponry to accommodate its five-ton atomic payload, known as the Fat Man.

Thirteen minutes after takeoff, at 4 A.M. Tinian time, the weaponeer made his way aft and removed two green safing plugs from the bomb, replacing them with red arming plugs: it was now live. Whereas the weapon dropped over Hiroshima had been a relatively squat cylinder, this one was shaped like a giant egg. It was five feet around and eleven feet long and painted mustard yellow. At one end was a rigid, boxy tail fin known as a California parachute, designed to help keep it from spinning wildly once it was released.

The pit crew who assembled it had signed their names on the casing, and some also wrote messages to the Japanese—‘Here’s to you!’ and ‘A second kiss for Hirohito.’ On its nose, the bomb bore a stenciled acronym, JANCFU, which stood for Joint Army-Navy-Civilian Fuckup.

The plane beat its way through dark and stormy skies for six hours before it arrived over the small island of Yakushima, where it was to wait for two accompanying B-29s, the Great Artiste... and Big Stink.... Big Stink never showed. After fifty minutes, Bockscar and the Great Artiste proceeded to their primary target, the city of Kokura....

When Bockscar arrived over Kokura, at 10:45 A.M., the crew found that the arsenal was ‘obscured by heavy ground haze and smoke,’ according to the weaponeer’s flight log.... The visual bombing of Kokura couldn’t be managed. After forty-five minutes, and with anti-aircraft fire headed their way, the crew decided to try for the secondary target: Nagasaki...