Enola Gay was the name of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber that was used to drop the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II. The aircraft was named after the mother of the pilot, Colonel Paul Tibbets, who flew the plane during the mission.
The Enola Gay was built by Boeing Aircraft in Wichita, Kansas, and was delivered to the United States Army Air Forces on May 18, 1945. The aircraft was assigned to the 393rd Bombardment Squadron, 509th Composite Group, which was based at Tinian Island in the Pacific Ocean. The 509th Composite Group was formed specifically for the purpose of dropping atomic bombs on Japan.
On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay took off from Tinian Island, carrying the first atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy”. The mission was led by Colonel Tibbets, who had been selected to fly the plane due to his extensive experience as a bomber pilot.
The Enola Gay and its crew of 12 flew towards Hiroshima, which was a major industrial city and a military target. At 8:15 a.m., the bomb was dropped over the city, unleashing a devastating explosion that destroyed much of the city and killed an estimated 140,000 people.
The decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan remains controversial to this day, with some arguing that it was necessary to bring an end to the war and others arguing that it was a war crime that killed innocent civilians.
After the Hiroshima bombing, the Enola Gay continued to serve in the United States Army Air Forces until 1946, when it was retired and placed in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. In 1953, the aircraft was selected to be part of the collection of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
The Enola Gay underwent extensive restoration and preservation work in the 1980s, and was put on display at the National Air and Space Museum in 1995. The exhibition of the aircraft was highly controversial, with many critics arguing that it celebrated the bombing of Hiroshima and was insensitive to the victims of the attack.
In response to the controversy, the Smithsonian altered the exhibition to provide more context and information about the decision to drop the bomb, as well as the devastating effects of the attack on Hiroshima. The Enola Gay remains on display at the National Air and Space Museum to this day.
The Enola Gay continues to be a symbol of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and the devastating impact of nuclear weapons. The aircraft has been the subject of numerous books, documentaries, and other works of art, and its legacy continues to be debated and analyzed.
“Enola Gay.” Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/boeing-b-29-superfortress-enola-gay/nasm_A19500100000
“Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings.” History.com. https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/hiroshima
“Enola Gay.” Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Enola-Gay
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