Russell C. Coile
several hundred feet could be corrected so that the bomb (fi lled with sand)
would impact within 50 feet ot the target in the trials we observed.
Incidentally, Wendover Field had just a few planes and research people
there when we arrived on July 3. We found out later that Col Tibbett's and
Composite Group of 15 B-29s had arrived at Wendover on June
14 and had all packed up and left on June 27 to go to Tinian Island. After
they arrived at Tinian on July 2
, they fl ew practice bombing and night
orientation missions until July 22, and combat bombing missions on July
24 and 26. After fl ying one atomic bomb practice mission on July 31
they waited for President Truman to give them the order to bomb Japan. On
August 6 the Enola Gay dropped a `Little Boy' atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
The Little Boy was 12 feet long and 28 inches in diameter and consisted
of a gun which fi red a slug of uranium 235 down its barrel into another
piece of uranium.
The USS Indianapolis cruiser (CA-35) dropped anchor off Tinian Island
on July 26 to deliver the Little Boy. Five days later on July 29, Japanese
submarine I-58 torpedoed the ship which was sailing in radio silence
towards the Philippines. The ship capsized and sank within 12 minutes so
that no radio signal about the disaster was sent. Because of communication
errors no search action was initiated for some days. There were only 317
survivors after fi ve days in the water out of a crew of 1199. The captain
was court-martialed and found at fault for the sinking. He later committed
suicide. In October 2000, Congress passed a resolution to clear him of
any guilt. His son had tried for 35 years to have the Navy reexamine the
situation with the help of the Japanese Navy.
It is of interest that the Little Boy atomic bomb was assembled in
fl ight after takeoff. Many ordinary B-29s had crashed on takeoff even with
the 8,500 foot long runway because they were so overloaded with fuel
and bombs. No one wanted the Enola Gay to crash on take off with a live
atomic bomb and blow up the whole airbase. Navy Captain William `Deke'
Parsons, the naval gun expert at Las Alamos was a key person in the design
of the Little Boy. He was the weaponeer who assembled the bomb in fl ight.
I was glad that I had the chance to meet Admiral Parsons some years later
at a party in Georgetown. My hostess was the grand-daughter of Professor
Albert Abraham Michelson, University of Chicago. Albert Michelson entered
the United States Naval Academy in 1869 at age 17 and graduated in
1873. After two years of sea duty he returned to Annapolis to teach physics.
After they arrived at Tinian on July 2 nd , they fl ew practice bombing and night orientation missions until July 22, and combat bombing missions on July 24 and 26. After fl ying one atomic bomb practice mission on July 31 st , they waited for President Truman to give them the order to bomb Japan. It is of interest that the Little Boy atomic bomb was assembled in fl ight after takeoff.