Archive for August 9th, 2008

09
Aug
08

American Bomber: B-29 Superfortress Bockscar

Stored in the Arizona desert at the end of World War II and flown to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 1961, the B-29 Bockscar went on permanent display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.  Piloted by Major Charles Sweeney, Bockscar was the B-29 that committed the second atomic attack on Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945.

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Restored to original condition the plane appears as it did on the morning it carried out the second atomic attack on Nagasaki, Japan.

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The tail towers nearly thirty feet above ground.

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The streamlined fuselage set the standard for future bombers, which would not bristle with machine guns like the bombers before the B-29.

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The nose-art of World War II planes usually reflected something about the pilot.  This B-29 is named after its pilot Frederick Bock.  However, Bock would not pilot the bombing mission on August 9, instead he piloted Major Sweeney’s bomber the Great Artiste carrying instruments to measure the bombs effects, while Major Sweeney piloted Bockscar.

For more information follow this link: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=527

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09
Aug
08

Fat Man Atomic Bomb

Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki

On this day in 1945, a second atom bomb is dropped on Japan by the United States, at Nagasaki, resulting finally in Japan’s unconditional surrender.

The devastation wrought at Hiroshima was not sufficient to convince the Japanese War Council to accept the Potsdam Conference’s demand for unconditional surrender. The United States had already planned to drop their second atom bomb, nicknamed “Fat Man,” on August 11 in the event of such recalcitrance, but bad weather expected for that day pushed the date up to August 9th. So at 1:56 a.m., a specially adapted B-29 bomber, called “Bock’s Car,” after its usual commander, Frederick Bock, took off from Tinian Island under the command of Maj. Charles W. Sweeney. Nagasaki was a shipbuilding center, the very industry intended for destruction. The bomb was dropped at 11:02 a.m., 1,650 feet above the city. The explosion unleashed the equivalent force of 22,000 tons of TNT. The hills that surrounded the city did a better job of containing the destructive force, but the number killed is estimated at anywhere between 60,000 and 80,000 (exact figures are impossible, the blast having obliterated bodies and disintegrated records).

General Leslie R. Groves, the man responsible for organizing the Manhattan Project, which solved the problem of producing and delivering the nuclear explosion, estimated that another atom bomb would be ready to use against Japan by August 17 or 18-but it was not necessary. Even though the War Council still remained divided (“It is far too early to say that the war is lost,” opined the Minister of War), Emperor Hirohito, by request of two War Council members eager to end the war, met with the Council and declared that “continuing the war can only result in the annihilation of the Japanese people….” The Emperor of Japan gave his permission for unconditional surrender.

“Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.” 2008. The History Channel website. 8 Aug 2008, 04:20 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6545.

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The thing I have always found morbidly fascinating about this bomb is that it doesn’t explode.  It implodes.  Inside the bomb is a central core of plutonium 239 and formed around that core is a soccer ball-like shaped charge of alternating fast and slow burning detonators.  When it detonates the soccer ball collapses in on the plutonium core compressing it until it implodes.  A split second after imploding a massive release of energy results in devastating destruction, which, when used on August 9, 1945, convinced Emperor Hirohito that Japan faced annihilation if it continued the war.

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The Fat Man atomic bomb can be found at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

For more information about this weapon and others follow these links:  http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/exhibits/

or: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1016

09
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-9-08: Jesse Owens

Owens wins 4th gold medal

At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, African American track star Jesse Owens wins his fourth gold medal of the Games in the 4×100-meter relay. His relay team set a new world record of 39.8 seconds, which held for 20 years. In their strong showing in track-and-field events at the XIth Olympiad, Jesse Owens and other African American athletes struck a propaganda blow against Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, who planned to use the Berlin Games as a showcase of supposed Aryan superiority.

Despite the embarrassment of seeing his best Aryan runners bested by African Americans, Adolf Hitler hailed the Berlin Olympics as a great success. He commissioned a German architect to design a colossal, 400,000-seat stadium at Nuremberg that would host Olympics for “all time to come.” The outbreak of World War II in 1939 prevented the building of the stadium, and by 1945 Hitler’s plans for Nazi world domination had ended in absolute defeat. In the decades of Cold War that followed, the United States and the Soviet Union exploited the propaganda potential of the Olympic Games as freely as the Nazis did at Berlin in 1936.

Although only 23, Jesse Owens retired from amateur competition shortly after the Berlin Olympics in order to capitalize on his fame. This effectively brought his athletic career to an end. He later engaged in boys’-guidance activities, made goodwill visits to Asia for the U.S. Department of State, and served as secretary of the Illinois State Athletic Commission. He died in 1980.

“Owens wins 4th gold medal.” 2008. The History Channel website. 8 Aug 2008, 04:04 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6984.

 

On This Day

1678 – American Indians sold the Bronx to Jonas Bronck for 400 beads.

1854 – “Walden” was published by Henry David Thoreau.

1859 – The escalator was patented by Nathan Ames.

1910 – A.J. Fisher received a patent for the electric washing machine.

1942 – Mohandas K. Gandhi was arrested Britain. He was not released until 1944.

1944 – The Forest Service and Wartime Advertising Council created “Smokey the Bear.”

1945 – The U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. The bombing came three days after the bombing of Hiroshima. About 74,000 people were killed. Japan surrendered August 14.

1945 – The first network television broadcast occurred in Washington, DC. The program announced the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan.

1956 – The first statewide, state-supported educational television network went on the air in Alabama.

1969 – Sharon Tate and four other people were found murdered at Tate’s residence in Los Angeles, CA. Charles Manson and several members of his cult were later convicted of the crime.

1985 – Arthur J. Walker, a retired Navy officer, was found guilty of seven counts of spying for the Soviet Union.

2001 – U.S. President Bush announced he would support federal funding for limited medical research on embryonic stem cells.

 

Arthur Walker found guilty of spying for Soviet Union

Arthur Walker, a retired U.S. Navy officer, is found guilty of espionage for passing top-secret documents to his brother, who then passed them to Soviet agents. Walker was part of one of the most significant Cold War spy rings in the United States.

“Arthur Walker found guilty of spying for Soviet Union.” 2008. The History Channel website. 8 Aug 2008, 04:06 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2754.

Unusual succession makes Ford president

In accordance with his statement of resignation the previous evening, Richard M. Nixon officially ends his term as the 37th president of the United States at noon. Before departing with his family in a helicopter from the White House lawn, he smiled farewell and enigmatically raised his arms in a victory or peace salute. The helicopter door was then closed, and the Nixon family began their journey home to San Clemente, California. Richard Nixon was the first U.S. president to resign from office.

Minutes later, Vice President Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States in the East Room of the White House. After taking the oath of office, President Ford spoke to the nation in a television address, declaring, “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.”

Ford, the first president who came to the office through appointment rather than election, had replaced Spiro Agnew as vice president only eight months before. In a political scandal independent of the Nixon administration’s wrongdoings in the Watergate affair, Agnew had been forced to resign in disgrace after he was charged with income tax evasion and political corruption. In September 1974, Ford pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while in office, explaining that he wanted to end the national divisions created by the Watergate scandal.

“Unusual succession makes Ford president.” 2008. The History Channel website. 8 Aug 2008, 04:08 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5246.




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