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Hiroshima Day

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby johnfajardohenry » Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:48 pm

mifflander wrote:From a military standpoint I imagine there is quite a difference. The Tokyo bombing required hundreds of plans dropping thousands of tons of bombs over a 2 day period. Hiroshima/Nagasaki required one plan and one bomb per city.


I assume you mean planes there.

In any event, you are right. A lot more resources were needed to bomb Tokyo than Hiroshima or Nagasaki. One might argue that the ease of atomic bombing makes it more likely.

In my comment I was thinking more of the results on the ground.

Number killed and amount of destruction was similar in both cases.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby johnfajardohenry » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:00 pm

Ttusker wrote:For those interested and not afraid of some science, Richard Rhodes' book "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" is really first-rate. Beautifully written, though difficult in places to read (and not just because of the physics), it tells the whole story, and I've yet to read a more detailed AND balanced account. Rhodes also wrote an equally fascinating sort-of-sequel, "Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb."


Netflix recommended "Fat Man and Little Boy" the other day with Paul Newman as General Groves.

It was pretty good and I would recommend it.

It is not about the bombing but about the making of the bomb in Los Alamos and ends with the Trinity test.

My wife and I were in NM about 15 years ago and visited Los Alamos. They seem to have a pretty good museum but it was closed the day we went. Even without the museum it was still well worth the trip. Go if you get a chance.


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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby johnfajardohenry » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:08 pm

earlfoss wrote:I find it interesting that Japan formally launched the Izumo on August 6. They are currently circumventing their own constitution through building their naval fleet. I wouldn't blame them however given the naval fleet increase made recently by China and the history of conflict between them.


No, their constitution says they can build "destroyers" and smaller warships.

The new ship is a "destroyer" so is OK.

Image

An 820', 20,000 ton "destroyer" with a flat deck.

Most other countries' destroyers are around 250-350 feet long and 3-5,000 tons IIRC.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby johnfajardohenry » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:22 pm

pjbogart wrote:Actually, I think the real question is: "Even if we are to assume that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the 'right' things to do, is it necessary for you to dance on their graves 70 years later?"


How many of us would not be posting on this forum today had the invasion of Japan gone forward?

My father was in the Pacific in 1945. Merchant Marine but supply ships got sunk too. Had his ship gone near Japan before August 1945 instead of after the surrender, they would most likely have been exposed to attack.

The Japanese had 12,000+ planes, all planned for kamikaze use more under construction. They had 18,000 pilots and could train more in hours (6 hours to fully train a kamikaze pilot). At Okinawa, one in 9 kamikazes scored a hit. In an invasion, because the ships would have been much closer, it was forecast that 1-6 would score.

They also had 900,000 men in the army in Japan, most of them in the area where the invasion was planned. That doesn't count the civilians who would have fought to their deaths. Would you be happier to have American troops machine gunning hordes of 10 year olds armed with spears? Or napalming them?

So I am glad the war ended when it did. I don't have a problem with how we ended it. Not even the least moral qualm.

Sorry you don't seem to agree.

I am not "dancing on graves" but in the same we we remember D-Day, the fall of Berlin and other victories, I have no problem remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki as ending the war, saving hundreds of thousands of US lives and perhaps as many as a million net Japanese lives.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby johnfajardohenry » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:27 pm

Henry Vilas wrote:I agree with you in principle, but note that two-thirds of the U.S. military during WWII were draftees and did not choose to serve.


Something we should all bear in mind whenever we hear about "The Good War", Henry. Thanks for pointing that out.

If WWII was "The Good War", why was it necessary to rely so heavily on draftees? Why so few volunteers wanting to fight to make the world safe for democracy etc?

Probably something for another thread but we might also ask what national interest we had in going to war with Germany at all?

And yet, Afghanistan, Iraq and all our other ventures since 1972 have been fought entirely by volunteers.

Go figure.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby johnfajardohenry » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:34 pm

green union terrace chair wrote:There was probably a racial component as well. The Japanese were not viewed as equals or at least as very alien. Japanese-Americans were interred during WWII but German-Americans were not.

If the bombs were ready six months or a year earlier, would the US have used them on Germany?


Yes, original plans were to simultaneously drop an atomic bomb on both Germany and Japan.

Germany folded up 2 months early and it was unnecessary.

Even as late as April 1945 defeating Germany was still an iffy thing. Most people forget how strong they still were. The Russian took 300,000 casualties in the final assault on Berlin which began in Mid-April 1945. By that time Berlin had been bombed to rubble.

We almost lost the war in Dec 44 in what is called the Battle of the Bulge.

Not a doubt in my mind we would have used the atomic bomb on Germany had it been available.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Ttusker » Sat Aug 17, 2013 3:33 pm

johnfajardohenry wrote:
Last month I read the 3rd volume of Manchester's bio of Churchill which has most of a chapter on Potsdam and discusses this in some detail. Excellent book, though read Vols 1&2 first

John Henry


Just started reading that a few weeks ago, and set it down 'til later. IMHO, volumes 1 and 2 were better. This last one is OK so far as I've read, but lacks that Manchester touch that made his books so readable. It's a shame he wasn't able to finish it himself.
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Ttusker » Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:06 pm

johnfajardohenry wrote:
Ttusker wrote:For those interested and not afraid of some science, Richard Rhodes' book "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" is really first-rate. Beautifully written, though difficult in places to read (and not just because of the physics), it tells the whole story, and I've yet to read a more detailed AND balanced account. Rhodes also wrote an equally fascinating sort-of-sequel, "Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb."


Netflix recommended "Fat Man and Little Boy" the other day with Paul Newman as General Groves.

It was pretty good and I would recommend it.

It is not about the bombing but about the making of the bomb in Los Alamos and ends with the Trinity test.

My wife and I were in NM about 15 years ago and visited Los Alamos. They seem to have a pretty good museum but it was closed the day we went. Even without the museum it was still well worth the trip. Go if you get a chance.

John Henry


I've seen "Fat Man and Little Boy" and I thought it was well done. I've also been to the Los Alamos museum (twice, back in the late '80s) and I thought it was very interesting. I have a brother who's lived in Santa Fe for 25 years and I'm going to visit him again in October. That whole area is beautiful, especially in the fall. Maybe I'll check out the museum again and see if anything has changed.

I confess to being fascinated with WWII. I've been studying it for over thirty years, and feel like I've only scratched the surface. It was so huge, so all-encompassing, so world-changing. My mom and dad were of that generation. My dad served in the army during the war, and they were fast-tracking him through medical school. The war ended before he finished, but they made sure they grabbed him when the Korean thing started. Anyway, I'm so glad I was able to hear my parents' views, stories, and memories of that time.
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sat Aug 17, 2013 5:24 pm

johnfajardohenry wrote:Yes, original plans were to simultaneously drop an atomic bomb on both Germany and Japan.

Could you point me to a source for this assertion?
'Cuz as I said, I've read several books about the development of the atomic bomb and never come across any such claim. So if there's a book that has evidence of such a plan, I'd very much like to read it.
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby johnfajardohenry » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:46 am

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Could you point me to a source for this assertion?
'Cuz as I said, I've read several books about the development of the atomic bomb and never come across any such claim. So if there's a book that has evidence of such a plan, I'd very much like to read it.


How about this, from 2002 interview by Studs Terkel with Paul Tibbetts. Most people know Tibbetts only as the pilot of the Enola Gay but he was in charge of the entire aviation side of the bomb project as well.

...General Arnold asked which of them could do this atomic weapons deal, he replied without hesitation, "Paul Tibbets is the man to do it." I said, "Well, thank you, sir." Then he laid out what was going on and it was up to me now to put together an organisation and train them to drop atomic weapons on both Europe and the Pacific - Tokyo.

ST: Interesting that they would have dropped it on Europe as well. We didn't know that.

PT: My edict was as clear as could be. Drop simultaneously in Europe and the Pacific because of the secrecy problem - you couldn't drop it in one part of the world without dropping it in the other. ...


http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/a ... lear.japan

It was not clear from the Guardian but I think the interview came from one of Terkel's books.

There is a Wikipedia entry that talks about this has a citation referring back to Tibbets' book on the Enola Gay mission.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sun Aug 18, 2013 10:12 am

Thanks. A little digging around on the Internet yesterday and I found a few historians who outright say what you have -- that the bomb would have been dropped on Germany had they not surrendered before it was ready. I'll definitely need to find an actual book which lays out the evidence for this (everything I found on the web was just claims without citations or evidence). Tibbetts is certainly a credible enough source, to be sure, but considering how many historical documents related to WWII have been declassified over the years, it seems to me this should be an easy enough assertion to prove definitively and if true, it definitely changes my opinion as expressed earlier in this thread. The stuff I've read in the past mostly looked at the development of the bomb from a scientific/engineering standpoint, rather than a military/historical view, so it's not entirely inconceivable that a plan to nuke Germany would have been left out of the narrative, but it still seems strange to me that it didn't rate even a casual mention. (Also possible: it was mentioned and I simply forgot.)
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Henry Vilas » Sun Aug 18, 2013 10:28 am

It's one thing to say that some generals wanted to drop the big one on Germany, but that decision would have been up to Truman.

On a side note, in 1995 the U.S. issued a postage stamp commemorating the bombs dropped on Japan.

Image

The postal service later had second thoughts and withdrew the stamp.
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby johnfajardohenry » Sun Aug 18, 2013 11:18 am

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Thanks. A little digging around on the Internet yesterday and I found a few historians who outright say what you have -- that the bomb would have been dropped on Germany had they not surrendered before it was ready.


Even without Tibbets and others, I would still find it hard to believe that FDR or Truman would not have used the bomb on Germany had the European war gone on longer than it did.

We had 300,000 (?) or so dead and many millions on the part of our allies. US public opinion, never in favor of the US getting involved in Europe in the first place, was starting to get disgusted with the war that went on forever and had the war not ended when it did, might have been a problem.

We almost lost the European war in 1944. Had the German Ardennes offensive succeeded, had they been able to deny us the use of Antwerp's harbor, our (US and British) armies would have ground to a halt. We probably would have wound up with a negotiated armistice as in WWI. And WWII shows us how well that worked out.

I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone could seriously think that the US would not have used the bomb on Germany in 1944 had it been available. Even as late as April 1945 I suspect that, had it been available, it would have been dropped on Berlin. Not as a demonstration to Stalin, who knew by that time that we were close to the bomb and what it would probably do.

We would have dropped it to to end the war and stop the American deaths.

Can you imagine the public response to a president who didn't? "What!?!?!?!? You had a bomb that would have stopped the war and didn't use it? What were you thinking?" I suspect that it might have led to impeachment.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby johnfajardohenry » Sun Aug 18, 2013 11:42 am

johnfajardohenry wrote:I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone could seriously think that the US would not have used the bomb on Germany in 1944 had it been available.


I'm not happy with the way that reads. It sounds like I am pointing at you, prof, and that was not my intention. If you read it that way, my apologies.

I meant it as a general statement that it just seems perfectly logical to me that we would have A bombed Germany had we been able.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:37 pm

Well, we still have the bomb and we've been in several wars since Japan.

What's your theory as to why we haven't used another one if it's such a quick and decisive way to end wars and save lives?
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