Little Boy [the name of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima] Mission # 1 Briefing at 2400…We started engines at 0227 and taxied out to take off at 0235. Then we got off the ground at exactly 0245…at the last minute before take-off our cruising altitude has been changed…which meant a rougher trip…nothing unusual encountered.
At 0320 Items 1-11 were completed by [Weaponeer and bomb commander] Capt. Parsons.
The fact is 45 minutes out of our base everyone is at work…Colonel Tibbets has been hard at work with the usual tasks that belong to the pilot of a B-29. Captain Van Kirk, navigator, and Sergeant Stiborik, radar operator, are in continuous conversation [on the interphone], as they are shooting bearings on the northern Marianas and making radar wind runs.
At 0420 Dutch Van Kirk sends me word that we will be at Iwo Jima at 0525, so we’ll just have to check on him to see if he is right.
The Colonel, better known as “Old Bull,” shows signs of a tough day, with all he had to do to get this mission off. He is deserving of a few winks, so I’ll have a bite to eat and look after “George” [the automatic pilot].
At 0430 we saw signs of a late moon in the east. I think everyone will feel relieved when we have left our bomb with the Japs and get half way home. Or, better still, all the way home.
The first signs of dawn came to us at 0500, and that also is a nice sight after having spent the previous 30 minutes dodging large cumulus clouds.
It looks at this time (0551) that we will have clear sailing for a long spell. Tom Ferebee has been very quiet and methinks he is mentally back in the midwest part of old U.S.A.
It is 0552, it is real light outside, and we are only a few miles from Iwo Jima. We are beginning to climb to a new altitude, at which, we will remain until we are about one hour away from the Empire.
After leaving Iwo we began to pick up some low strata and before very long we were flying on top of an undercast. At 0710 the undercast began to break up just a little, but outside of a high thin cirrus and the low stuff, it is a very beautiful day. We are now about two hours from Bombs Away.
At 0730 Captain Parsons has put the final touches on his assembly job. We are now loaded. The bomb is now alive and it is a funny feeling knowing it’s right in back of you. Knock wood.
We started our climb to 30,000 feet at 0740. Well, folks, it won’t be long now.
We have now set the automatic pilot for the last time until Bombs Away. I have checked with all concerned and all stations report satisfactorily.
We have reached proper altitude and at 0830 Dick Nelson (Radio operator, of Los Angeles, California) received a report from the weather plane (that left an hour before us) that our primary is the best target, so, with everything going well so far, we will make a bomb run on Hiroshima right now, as we are now only 25 miles from the Empire, and everyone has a big hopeful look on his face.
It is 0850. Not long now folks.
As we are approaching our primary, Ferebee, Van Kirk and Stibork are coming into their own while the Colonel and I are standing by and are giving the boys what they want.
There’ll be a short intermission while we bomb our target…
A brief blow-by-blow description of the bomb run:
We turned off our I.P. and had about a four-minute run on a perfectly open target. Tom Ferebee synchronized on his brief A.P. [Aiming Point] and let go.
For the next minute no one knew what would happen. The bombardier and the right seat jockey or pilot both forgot to put on their dark glasses and therefore witnessed the flash. Then in about 15 seconds after the flash, there were two very distinct slaps, then that was all the physical effect that we felt.
We then turned the ship so we could observe results and there in front of our eyes was without a doubt the greatest explosion man has ever witnessed.
The city was 50 per cent covered with smoke and a large column of white cloud which in less than three minutes reached 30,000 feet and then went at least 50,000 feet.
I am certain the entire crew felt this experience was more than any one human had ever thought possible. It just seemed impossible to comprehend.
Just how many Japs did we kill? I honestly have the feeling or groping for words to explain this or I might say my God, what have we done?
If I live a hundred years, I’ll never quite get these few minutes out of my mind…
Everyone on the ship is actually dumbstruck even though we had expected something fierce. It was the actual sight that we saw that caused the crew to feel they were part of Buck Rodgers 25th century warriors.
[he can still see the massive cloud from the bomb]…even after an hour and a half, 4,000 miles from the target.
It is worth noting here that Lewis’s written words were, quite understandably, more thoughtful than his immediate spoken reaction to the sight of the rapidly climbing mushroom cloud.
[ According to several crew members he exclaimed, “My God, look at that son-of-a-bitch go!” [See P. 326, “Enola Gay” by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts and page four of Jacob Beser’s oral history].
Lewis was so impressed by the cloud (who wouldn’t be) that he made a sketch of it that adorns the back cover of the notebook. He labeled it with the local Tinian time (0930—approximately 15 minutes after detonation) and signed it.]
Upon the Enola Gay’s safe return to the base at Tinian, Lewis was advised during the debriefing to keep his freelance document to himself. But after several days, during which he performed some additional writing (dated August 10, 1945), the officer honored his commitment and loaned the notebook to Laurence.
In the days immediately preceding the flight, the men learned more about their historic mission and were again told of the tremendous contribution they would make to ending the war. Almost all would cling fiercely to this version of events throughout the rest of their lives. On August 4, Tibbets and Parsons briefed the crews of the seven planes that would participate in the historic mission. Parsons told them, “The bomb you are going to drop is something new in the history of warfare. It will be the most destructive weapon ever devised. We think it will wipe out almost everything within a three-mile area, maybe slightly more, maybe somewhat less.” Tibbets spoke later and told them that their mission would shorten the war by six months. “At least six months,” he emphasized. At the following night’s closed Strike Mission General Briefing for immediate participants, he estimated the bomb’s destructive force as equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT. Tibbets announced proudly, “Tomorrow, the world will know that the 509th helped end the war.” Abe Spitzer noted in his diary, “And you got the feeling that he really thought this bomb would end the war, period.” Prior to takeoff, only “Deak” Parsons, who went along as the weaponeer, the crew member in charge of preparing the bomb for release, and Tibbets actually knew for certain they would be delivering an atomic bomb. If the others needed assurance about the historic nature of their mission, though, they got it when they boarded the plane in the glare of klieg lights, flashbulbs, and cameras. Tibbets sat in the plane’s cockpit, smiling and waving to those recording the event for posterity. Twenty-four year old Van Kirk compared it to a Hollywood movie opening. Stiborik agreed. “The place looked like Hollywood,” he observed. It reminded Beser of a Broadway opening. Physicist Harold Agnew, who flew aboard one of the accompanying planes, compared it to “the opening of a drug store.” The Enola Gay crew posed in front of the plane for a final photo, with tail gunner George “Bob” Caron wearing his prized Brooklyn Dodgers cap. Tibbets had packed cigarettes, cigars, and a pipe.
We did not know what was going on. When I say "we", I mean the enlisted men at least. Now, maybe the officers knew, the pilots may have known, the bombardier might have known, I don't know who knew, who did not know; I knew that the enlisted men like myself did not know what was going on. I remember looking out the little scanner's window and yelling to Al, the radar operator who had no window, "You should see what's going on, on Tibett's plane tonight!" It was one thirty in the morning. "It's all lit up like a Christmas tree. They've got spotlights on it, there are news photographers out there, there are cameras out there, and there are a hundred people around that one plane. Where do you suppose he's going tonight?" And Al said, "I don't know." I said, "On top of it, they've even painted a name on its nose!" He never had a name on the nose of his ship. Al said, "What does it say?" I said, "I can't read it - too far away". I later found out, he had painted on there ENOLA GAY. That was the name of his mother.
J: Well, actually there were three that went to Hiroshima. First of all, early in the morning, they sent three weather reconnaissance planes to check out three different targets -- Hiroshima being one, Kokura, was another one, and Nagasaki was the third one. The weather planes reported that Hiroshima was open for bombing and then there were three active planes that flew over Hiroshima.
They were flying alongside, together at 30,000 feet. The third one was a photo monitor. This is an interesting story. The man that had the gear -- a nice camera to take pictures of this event -- he forgot his parachute, and they wouldn't let him on the airplane. They wouldn't let him on the third airplane. So he just flew with no assignment.
M: And no pictures. There were no other pictures of the bomb going off.
J: Except the one the tail gunner took.
Mainichi: He (the photographer) failed to take photos?
M: He failed.
J: He failed. Yeah. His part of the mission didn't work. And he was very agitated because he said "I don't need a parachute; what good is a parachute when you're at 30,000 feet?" If the plane blew up at 30,000 feet, even with a parachute, you don't survive.
M: But you were the only one who put on a parachute in your plane; nobody else did.
J: All of the crew, when they got onboard the airplane, the nine members, and (radar specialist Jacob) Beser, dumped their parachutes in a pile -- they are nice comfortable things -- so Captain Parsons sat on the pile of the parachutes. He was right behind me, and I was monitoring the electronics, and I was to tell him if there was something wrong, but here is this big-time guy sitting on a pile of parachutes -- that's OK.
Mainichi: Who pushed the button of the bomb?
J: The bombardier over the bomb bay, Ferebee.
Also, this, from Christie's auction house:
http://www.christies.com/Lotfinder/lot_ ... ID=3886895
According to the blog, linked previously, Lewis added some things days after the event.
"For the next minute no one knew what would happen. The bombardier and the right seat jockey or pilot both forgot to put on their dark glasses and therefore witnessed the flash. Then in about 15 seconds after the flash, there were two very distinct slaps, then that was all the physical effect we felt.
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