60 years ago to the day, a group of seven B-29 Stratofortresses undertook a mission unlike any before it in the history of aerial warfare. At 2:45 AM, the command B-29 bomber bearing the name Enola Gay took off from a runway at the Tinian airbase in the Marianas islands. Its pilot was mission commander Col. Paul Tibbets. Inside the bomb bay was the first operational atomic bomb in history. It contained 132 lbs (60 kg) of Uranium-235. Measuring 12 feet long, 12 inches in diameter, and weighing 4 and a half tons, it was nicknamed Little Boy.
At 8:32 AM, at an altitude of 30,700 feet, the plane heads toward the city of Hiroshima. At exactly 9:15 AM, the bomb was released.
It was an air blast. The bomb detonated 1,890 feet above the target, with an estimated force of 12,500 to 13,000 tons (12.5-13 kilotons) of TNT. The temperature at the core of the blast exceeded 50 million degrees Fahrenheit. The city was virtually levelled. An estimated 70,000 people were directly killed by the blast. As time went by the death toll rose to an estimated 130,000 to 150,000 people, as a result of radiation poisoning.
It was the first time a nuclear weapon had ever been used in anger. It would not be the last.
Surviving the Atomic Attack on Hiroshima, 1945
Hiroshima after the bombing.