The American pilot, and commander of the crew who served aboard the Enola Gay, was Colonel Paul Tibbets who named the plane for his mother, Enola Gay Tibbets. The huge B-29 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay is one of the world’s most famous airplanes.
What was the Enola Gay? The Enola Gay was the name given to the airplane, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, that dropped the atomic bomb "Little Boy" on the city of Hiroshima, Japan during WW2.
Who was the pilot of the Enola Gay? The name of the pilot of the Enola Gay was Colonel Paul Tibbets.
Why was the plane called the Enola Gay? The aircraft was named for Enola Gay Tibbets, the mother of the pilot, Paul Tibbets.
When was the atomic bomb dropped from the Enola Gay? The atomic bomb "Little Boy" was dropped from the Enola Gay on to the city of Hiroshima at 08.15am on August 6, 1945.
The Atomic Bomb was developed by scientists working on the Manhattan Project. The "Little Boy" uranium core atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 from the 'Enola Gay' Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber and the "Fat Man" a-bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 from the 'Bockscar' bomber.
Project Alberta (Project A) was a section of the Manhattan Project that prepared for the delivery of the atomic bomb by conducting bomb delivery tests and modifying aircraft for carrying the atomic weapons.
Tinian, one of the three principal islands of the Mariana Islands, was one of the largest airbases of WW2 and the North Field runway was the departure point of the 509th Composite Group bombers Enola Gay and Bockscar
The Enola Gay arrived on Tinian on 6 July 1945. Colonel Paul Tibbets and the 393rd Bombardment Squadron begin test drops with dummy bombs called "Pumpkins" that were painted a distinctive mustard colored.
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Tibbets made the decision to use his mother’s name 'Enola Gay Tibbets' as the name for the aircraft because she was always positive and had once told him, “Whatever happens to you in your life, everything will work out”. The unusual name given to his mother was from the heroine of the novel Enola; or, Her fatal mistake.
The Enola Gay was built under a top secret program, code-name "Silverplate", to produce huge B-29 Superfortress bombers specially modified for atomic bombing missions.
On August 5, 1945, the day before the mission, B-29 was maneuvered over a bomb loading pit from which the atomic bomb "Little Boy" was hoisted on an hydraulic lift into the aircraft weapon bay and then taxied to Runway Able at North Field, Tinian.
The "Little Boy" atomic bomb was 10 feet (3.0 m) long and 28 inches (71 cm) wide. It weighed 4.1 tons, and the TNT firing device weighed nearly 28 pounds (12.5 kilograms)
Six other aircraft, loaded with photographic and scientific equipment, accompanied the Enola Gay on the mission.
The 13-hour mission to Hiroshima began at 02.45 hrs in the morning Tinian time on August 6, 1945.
Once the Enola Gay was safely airborne, Navy Captain William Parsons climbed into the bomb bay and armed the 9,000-pound "Little Boy" atomic bomb
At 0815, Hiroshima time, bombardier Tom Ferebee released the nuclear weapon. The bomb was dropped by parachute and exploded 1,900ft (580m) above the ground. After 43 seconds, "Little Boy" exploded with thermo-nuclear blast. As soon as the bomb was released the Enola Gay began its escape maneuver.
The effects of the atomic bomb explosion produced an intense light flash and a tremendous roar due to the shock wave of the explosion. A ball of fire rose rapidly, followed by a mushroom cloud that extended to the height of 40,000 feet (12,200 metres).
The Enola Gay was rocked by the shock wave that traveled directly from the fireball. Several seconds later the aircraft was struck by a second weaker shock reflected from the ground.
The mushroom cloud, which had climbed to 40,000 feet, was visible from the Enola Gay for almost an hour and a half, finally being lost from sight 363 miles from Hiroshima.
After a return flight, lasting 12 hours and 13 minutes, the Enola Gay landed safely at Tinian Island.
"Little Boy" destroyed about 63% of the city, 76,000 buildings. It is estimated that 265,000 people died due to the Hiroshima atomic bomb, including its radioactive fallout.
On 4 July 1949 the Enola Gay was transferred by the U. S. Air Force to the Smithsonian Institution and remained in outdoor "storage", unprotected and unattended. In July 1961 the Enola Gay was disassembled and stored indoors at the Paul E. Garber Facility in Maryland. The airplane underwent restoration from 1984 to 1995.
After considerable controversy the Enola Gay was put up for exhibition and moved to its permanent location at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in the National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia on 18 August 2003.
"Enola Gay" is an anti-war song by the British band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. The song was released on September 26, 1980. The lyrics of the anti-war song relate directly to the events of the day the atomic bomb was dropped with reference to "eight fifteen" the time the bomb was dropped and asks the question "Is mother proud of little boy today" in reference to the Hiroshima bomb's nickname.
The only people who knew the significance of the top secret bomb on the Enola Gay were the Paul Tibbets, the pilot, Captain Robert Lewis the co-pilot and Captain Deke Parsons. The crew knew they were on a special mission, because the chaplains were there to see them off and before take-off they were surrounded by military photographers
Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr. (February 23, 1915 – November 1, 2007) was the pilot of the Enola Gay. Brigadier General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, selected Paul Tibbets to be responsible for organizing and training the flight crew and for the role of pilot on the Enola Gay. He published his autobiography, 'The Paul Tibbets Story' in 1978.
Captain Robert Lewis (October 18, 1917 - June 18, 1983) was the Co-Pilot of the Enola Gay aircraft. Captain Robert Lewis allegedly recalls saying or thinking as he looked down, “My God, what have we done.”
Captain Deke Parsons (26 November 1901 – 5 December 1953) was a Naval gunnery officer (Weaponeer), who had worked as a scientist on the Manhattan Project and appointed the head of Project Alberta. He was responsible for the delivery of the nuclear weapon.
2nd Lieutenant Morris Jeppson (June 23, 1922 – March 30, 2010) was an Ordnance Expert and electronics specialist who was assigned to arm the atomic bomb on the Enola Gay. His role was to provide assistance to Captain William “Deak” Parsons with the final assembly and arming of the "Little Boy" atomic bomb in the bomb bay.
Lieutenant Jacob Beser (May 15, 1921 – June 16, 1992) was an Army Air Force radar specialist and responsible Electronic Countermeasures. He was the only man to served on both the Enola Gay mission and the Bockscar mission which bombed Nagasaki three days later on August 9, 1945
Sergeant Joseph Stiborik (1914–1984) was the Radar Operator on the Enola Gay
Staff Sergeant Robert Caron (October 31, 1919 - June 3, 1995) was the Tail Gunner on the Enola Gay. He later wrote a book about the Enola Gay mission called Fire of a Thousand Suns.
Major Thomas Ferebee (November 9, 1918 – March 16, 2000), a Bombardier was the crew member who pushed the button that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Staff Sergeant Wyatt Duzenbury was the Flight Engineer who was assigned to monitor the aircraft's engines and electronic systems. He died in 1992 at the age of 71.
Sergeant Robert H. Shumard was the Assistant Flight Engineer to Wyatt Duzenbury
Private Richard Nelson was the radio operator and at 20 years of age was the youngest of the crew who relayed coded messages about the Hiroshima mission
Air Force captain Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk (February 27, 1921 – July 28, 2014) was the navigator of the Enola Gay. Van Kirk later participated in Operation Crossroad, the first Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests. He became the last surviving member of the Enola Gay crew.
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