Col. Tibbets, pilot of the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, waves from his cockpit before the takeoff, 6 August 1945. Photo NARA.
Colonel Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr. was airplane commander of the 509th that was responsible for dropping the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August
6, 1945. In 1942, Colonel Tibbets was Squadron Commander of
the 340th Bomb Squadron, 97th Bombardment Group that was destined
for England. Tibbets flew 25 missions in B-17s.
In March 1943, Colonel Tibbets returned to the United States
to test the combat capability of Boeing's new Super Fortress,
the B-29. In September, 1944, he was briefed on the Manhattan
Project, the code name for the development of the atom bomb.
It was his job to organize and train a unit to deliver atomic
bombs in combat operations.
"I looked upon this airplane as one of the
best B-29s ever produced. I remember picking it out of the
production line at the Martin factory in Omaha with the help
of a couple of foremen."
— Colonel Paul Tibbets, Jr.
A-bomb mushroom cloud over Hiroshima, August 6th, 1945, about one hour after the bombing.
Photo taken from a U.S. airplane over the Seto Inland Sea about 80 kilometers from the hypocenter.
U.S. Army photo courtesy of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation.
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