|EvilHomer - 2014-02-09 |
Yeah, the annotations are great, be sure to leave them on! There's a lot here I didn't know; I particularly liked the bit about the very real possibility of Bockscar crashing on takeoff, and it's payload detonating right there on the airfield.
One thing they didn't really go into was the Kokura cloud cover; most of the clouds over Kokura that day had not occurred naturally, but were instead the result of a firebombing attack the previous night. I don't know precisely how many people in Kokura's neighbouring city, Yahata, were killed in that attack, but it's a bitter irony that the firebombing may have actually saved the region from a far worse fate.
The worst part about that is B-29's had a real hard time taking off from Tinian
"[T]he worst period was that between the time the B-29 engines with the Fat Man were cranked up and the time the plane was well clear of the island. The night before the takeoff four planes in succession crashed in takeoff at the other end of the island — in fact the situation got so bad a mission of 100 planes was cancelled after only 30 got off the ground."
And Little Boy and Fat Man were incredibly dangerous to handle and could have had a nuclear yield in a fire resulting form a plane crash easily. Little Boy would become unstoppable nuclear reactor is dropped in salt water.
Little Boy was so scary even to the people that built it wouldn't make any that worked like it again, even though they really needed to. See the only data in existence of human exposure to nuclear detonation is from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but they had so little instrumentation in place to monitor the blast as it happened that they are just making an educated guess on the yield and have *no* idea of what the actual radiation output was. Little Boy was completely obsolete by the time it was dropped, and when they realized they should make another and detonate it in Nevada to get some baseline readings, not only were there no components left but no one was willing to do it because of how unstable the design was.
And as far as firebombing being a better fate and a nuclear bombing, on the ground it is really hard to tell the difference. I feel the American military got a fortuitous PR advantage after the nuclear bombs because that is all anyone paid attention to. The fact that we had previously firebombed 67 other Japanese cities to ash has been so overshadowed in history that lots of people continue to make the argument that we were being merciful with the atom bomb, that we created such devastation to shock Japan into surrendering, when it was really more of a coincidence of timing with the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and pretty lucky for all the Manhattan Project heads that they even got a chance to use the bombs that had cost .9 billion to produce (that about 5 billion in today's money).
But the atomic bomb was just an evolution of what was already being done for most of 1945 in Japan. The firebombs were being designed and manufactured specifically to maximize destruction of houses, not factories. Mass civilian casualties were the goal and they were doing it on a daily basis. When you compare photos of Tokyo to Hiroshima, there is not much of a difference, and in fact far more square miles of Tokyo were erased in its raids than either of the nuclear ones. The atomic bomb was just a way to accomplish a city destructing bombing run with 1 plane instead of 300, but the end results were already very familiar.
Oh yeah, I'm not trying to be a firebomb apologist here. I'm aware of how horrible the tactic was, and how in some instances, it was arguably worse than the atomic bombs (e.g. more civilians died in the Tokyo attacks than died in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki).
But I'd still rather be firebombed. Tokyo was a much denser city, hence the greater destruction, and I'd assume that an atomic bomb detonating over Tokyo would have created a much more devastating firestorm than our more conventional incendiary bombs were able to create. What's more, conventional firestorms have no lingering effects, beyond the byproducts of completely obliterated infrastructure. Atomized cities not only had to contend with an almost total loss of infrastructure, but they also had to deal with the slow, lingering effects of radiation poisoning.
Firebombs, considered in aggregate, were certainly worse than the atomic bombs. I'd agree with that. But I don't think there's any way to argue that an individual firebombing raid was as bad as an atomic one.
|SolRo - 2014-02-09 |
Great (evil) video overall.
Having a hard time believing those 4 things on the front are safety fuses though. Unless they somehow cause a non-nuclear detonation, I can't imagine any scenario where the americans would want leave the top secret bomb unexploded in enemy territory.
Yeah, that bit struck me as odd, too. I believe the annotations were poorly worded. The little knobs are AN219 contact fuzes, and their role in most ordnance is to DETONATE the device if it strikes the ground, not disarm it. Fat Man was, of course, designed to explode in midair, but those fuses would have been in place to ensure it blew up even if the primary detonation mechanism failed.
What I think the writers were getting at is that the fuzes themselves would not cause the bomb to "go nuclear". Instead, they'd trigger a much smaller explosion, sufficient to obliterate the bomb and prevent Japanese scientists from gaining any insight into it's design. It was more like a self destruct feature than a disabling one.
The fuses on the front are contact fuses in the event of failed detonation, but in all reality the bomb would have high explosives detonated no matter what happened on impact with the ground, and the design was so sketchy it probably could have gone nuclear in some fashion even in a plane crash scenario.
Even with later bombs that had safety features, they still blew up when they hit the ground unarmed more often than not. There is a hell of a lot of high explosives in nuclear weapons. The Mark 6 that fell out of a B-47 in South Carolina exploded (no core was onboard), the Mark 17 that fell out of a B-36 in Albuquerque exploded (no core), 2 of the 4 Mark 28's that came crashing down in a midair collision over Spain exploded (sealed pit design, plutonium for everyone!). They were much better at not having the potential for accidental nuclear detonation, but they were still pretty explodey.
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