August 15, 2022

Hiroshima (広島市, Hiroshima-shi, lit. "wide island") is a city in Japan located on the northern coast of the Seto Inland Sea, on the island of Honshū, the largest Japanese island. It is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture and the largest city in the Chūgoku region. Since August 6, 1945, the city has been known worldwide for having been one of the two targets, along with Nagasaki, of atomic bombings by the United States during the Second World War.


Before the bomb

Hiroshima was founded in 1589 on the northern coast of the Seto Inland Sea (Setonaikai) by feudal lord Terumoto Mōri. He built Hiroshima Castle on the largest of the islands formed by the arms of the Ōta River, hence the name of the city. Hiroshima became an important urban center during the Meiji era. In 1910, its population was 143,000 inhabitants, in the 1940 census, it reached 344,000 inhabitants. During the First Sino-Japanese War, Hiroshima became one of the main logistics bases for the Imperial Japanese Army. She retained this function during the Showa era [ref. necessary]. During World War II, Hiroshima was a strategic center providing land defense for all of southern Japan, as well as a major industrial center. Just across from the city's harbor on Okunoshima Island was a poison gas manufacturing plant affiliated with Shiro Ishii's network of research units. With the expansion of the empire, different types of chemical weapons were produced there such as mustard gas, lewisite and cyanide. These gases were notably used against Chinese soldiers and civilians as well as in experiments on humans by Shiro Ishii's units.

The first atomic attack in history

On August 6, 1945 at 2:45 a.m. (local time), the B-29 bomber piloted by Paul Tibbets, named Enola Gay after his mother, took off from the Tinian base, with a uranium atomic bomb on board. 235 with a power of 15 kilotons, nicknamed Little Boy. The crew is made up of twelve men, including four scientists. Two other B-29s escort it, carrying the scientific instruments intended for the analysis of the explosion. At 7:09 am, the air alarm is triggered in Hiroshima; an isolated aircraft is spotted. This is the B-29 Straight Flush weather observation. At the same time, two other aircraft fly over Kokura and Nagasaki for an identical reconnaissance mission. Weather conditions are very good above Hiroshima; the city is chosen as the target. On the ground, the air alert was lifted at 7:30 a.m. The city was lightly bombed during the war and the inhabitants are used to seeing American bombers fly over their city to go further north. According to the National Museum of the City of Hiroshima, the city would have been knowingly spared by the Americans during conventional bombardments to avoid any prior damage, in order to better assess the effects of the atomic bomb [ref. necessary]. The bomb, bearing signed quips directed at the Japanese, was armed in flight and dropped at 8:15 a.m., nearly 9,000 meters above the city. At 8:16:2 a.m. local time, after 43 seconds of free fall, the bomb exploded 587 meters above the ground, directly above Shima Hospital, located in the heart of the city, less than 300 meters to the south -east of the Aioi bridge, initially targeted because recognizable by its “T” plan. The explosion, equivalent to that of 15,000 tons of TNT, instantly leveled the city. Of the 90,000 buildings in the city, 62,000 were completely destroyed. No trace remained of the inhabitants located within 500 meters of the site of the explosion. The Headquarters of the Second General Army (第2総軍, Dai-ni S