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Strange thought processes that resulted in the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki

The Nagasaki bombing mission: excused by “just NOT following orders”    The thought process that never happened on August 9, 1945:

“Well, let’s see here. The reserve fuel tank pump was broken before take-off, and we knew it, so we were supposed to call off the mission then. Next, we failed to rendezvous over Yakushima with one of the crucial planes in the mission. At the primary target of Kokura we encountered cloud cover and flak. Now we are so dangerously low on fuel that there’s a good chance we’re going to lose the bomb and our lives by ditching in the Pacific. If we carry out the mission at the secondary target, and survive, there’s a good chance we’ll be court-martialed for not following orders to abort the mission if troubles like these arose. Hmmm. Let’s just spare Nagasaki, get back to base safely, and hope this war is over soon before we have to drop the second bomb.”

Unfortunately, the commanding officers of Bockscar, the plane that dropped the bomb on Nagasaki, were eager to not look like failures after the “success” of the Enola Gay over Hiroshima three days earlier. The full story is told in the article “The harrowing story of the Nagasaki bombing mission“ (Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, August 4, 2015). After encountering the many troubles listed above, the plane went to the secondary target, Nagasaki, and the pilot determined to drop the bomb by radar through the cloud cover, against specific orders to drop it only with a clear view of the target. “Fortunately,” there was an opening in the clouds over the Urakami district, which was not the intended target over the center of the city. They hastily decided to drop the bomb there, then headed toward Okinawa for an emergency landing. They approached Okinawa with empty fuel tanks, expecting they would have to ditch in the ocean and die. The crew was literally willing to die rather than return as “failures” compared to their colleagues who had flown on the Enola Gay. In this regard, they were much like the fictional Major T.J. King Kong in Dr. Strangelove who carried out a suicide mission in order to start WWIII.


August 10, 2018 - Posted by | history, Japan, USA, weapons and war

1 Comment »

  1. This account regarding the very sad history for Nagasaki has implications for future nuclear weapons systems. Because of the very short reaction times, eventually early warning and nuclear weapons launch systems will be based on computer AI. This is especially relevant in view of the rapidity with which next-generation Russian and Chinese nuclear weapons heading vertically downwards from space at Mach 10 or Mach 20 towards the USA would be able to decimate totally the USA in a very short period of time. However, with AI, there is always a risk of misinterpreting data and coming to incorrect conclusions. Before humans can understand what has happened, such AI in US defence systems could end the World, by way of a computer glitch, in a matter of minutes, releasing automatically a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons. Then ends human civilisation and most life on Earth. As written in the Bible, Ecclesiastes chp. 1 v2: “Vanity of vanity, all is vanity’, saith the Preacher. Macho posturing with nuclear weapons will end the World, and the USA amongst other major nuclear power countries will then seem very stupid with its huge military-industrial complex.

    Comment by Dr Timothy Norris | August 10, 2018 | Reply

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