The Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki

On August 9, 1945, another American B-29 bomber, Bock's Car, left Tinian carrying Fat Man, a plutonium implosion-type bomb. The primary target was the Kokura Arsenal, but upon reaching the target, they found that it was covered by a heavy ground haze and smoke. The pilot, Major Charles Sweeney, turned to the secondary target of the Mitsubishi Torpedo Plant at Nagasaki.

The bomb fell on the narrow Urakami Valley northwest of downtown Nagasaki. It exploded roughly 1,600 feet over Urakami Cathedral at 11:02 a.m. Of the 286,000 people living in Nagasaki at the time of the blast, 74,000 people were killed and another 75,000 sustained severe injuries. The damage was less extensive, since the blast was boxed in by the river valley and partly to the fact that the bomb was dropped about 2 miles off target. The bomb had an estimated yield of 22 kilotons.

Like Hiroshima, in the area near the hypocenter, everything combustible burst into flames due to the thermal pulse but no extensive firestorm engulfed the city. In Nagasaki, nearly everything within 1/2 mile of the explosion was destroyed, including heavy structures. Over one third of the 50,000 buildings in the target area of Nagasaki were destroyed or seriously damaged. The Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works and the Mitsubishi Torpedo Plant were also completely destroyed. A black rain also started falling after the explosion over Nagasaki.

By 1950 over 140,000 people had been killed as a direct result of the atomic bombing. Because of the utter chaos at the time and the loss of population records of both cities, the casualty figures are approximated. Many of the survivors of the bombings were also left scarred, marked by keloids and invisible damage from exposure to the bomb's radiation. Studies show that cancer - particularly leukemia - struck survivors more often than would be expected.