Weird History The Full Resolution Of This Color Photo of The Nagasaki Mushroom Cloud Is Breathtaking  

Noelle Talmon
4.2k views 10 items Embed

The atomic bomb in Nagasaki was devastating, and it came as a result of America's decision to keep bombing Japan until the country surrendered during World War II. While many people in Nagasaki were evacuated in the days leading up to the bombing, thousands remained and were killed or sustained severe injuries in its wake. The United States dropped the bomb on the Japanese city just three days after bombing Hiroshima, making the Nagasaki bombing date August 9, 1945.

Photos of Nagasaki after the bomb are sickly beautiful, particularly those that capture the mushroom cloud that hovered above the bomb site. Fred J. Olivi, who was copilot of the Bockscar, which dropped the Fat Man bomb, described what he witnessed: "I've never seen anything like it! Biggest explosion I've ever seen... This plume of smoke I'm seeing is hard to explain. A great white mass of flame is seething within the white mushroom shaped cloud. It has a pinkish, salmon color. The base is black and is breaking a little way down from the mushroom."

Following WWII and the dropping of the a-bomb – after a great deal of hardship, death, and nuclear fallout – the people of Nagasaki rebuilt the city. 

This Was The Earliest Image Of The Blast Taken From The Ground


This Was The Earliest Image Of... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Full Resolution Of This Color Photo of The Nagasaki Mushroom Cloud Is Breathtaking
Photo: Kiromichi Matsuda/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

This image, taken on August 9, 1945, shows a mushroom cloud hovering over Nagasaki. It was taken by Hiromichi Matsuda a mere 15 minutes after the United States dropped a plutonium bomb on the city. The photographer was stationed in Koyagi-jima, located approximately five miles from Nagasaki. Experts think this image was the first to be taken of the blast from the ground.

The Bomb Was Code Named Fat Man, And It Was Dropped Off A Boeing B-29 Superfortress Named Bockscar


The Bomb Was Code Named Fat Ma... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Full Resolution Of This Color Photo of The Nagasaki Mushroom Cloud Is Breathtaking
Photo: U.S. Department of Defense/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Bockscar transported Fat Man at 3:49 a.m. with the intention of dropping it on Kokura, not Nagasaki. The United States had already bombed Hiroshima, and plans for the second attack were very similar. Two B-29s were deployed in advance to monitor the weather, while two more B-29s flew alongside Bockscar to help with instrumentation needs and to photograph the mission. 

The Crew Did Not Use Radar To Locate The Target For A Very Good Reason


The Crew Did Not Use Radar To ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Full Resolution Of This Color Photo of The Nagasaki Mushroom Cloud Is Breathtaking
Photo: Unknown/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The crew on the Bockscar was ordered to locate their target the old-fashioned way – with their eyes instead of using radar. The fear was that using radar wouldn't accurately pinpoint the right target. If the bomb was dropped a mile or two off course, it wouldn't have the intended effect. So, the crew attempted to visually locate a spot to drop the bomb. It wound up being a difficult task because they had a hard time seeing the ground due to the heavy smoke and haze that was covering it.

Nagasaki Was Not The Primary Target That Day – It Was An Unlucky Second Choice


Nagasaki Was Not The Primary T... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Full Resolution Of This Color Photo of The Nagasaki Mushroom Cloud Is Breathtaking
Photo: Charles Levy/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The United States initially wanted to bomb Kokura. Nagasaki was its second choice, and, for a myriad of reasons, it became the unfortunate target that day. To start, Bockscar got a 30-minute late start on its mission due to poor conditions in the sky. The day before there had been a raid on Yahata, near Kokura, which resulted in fires in the area that produced a lot of smoke. In addition, a steel company was burning coal tar with the purpose of reducing visibility through its black smoke, and there were a lot of clouds in the sky. As a result, 70% of the area over Kokura was hidden from view. With its primary target too difficult to attack, the crew on the Bockscar passed over the city three times looking for their target. They couldn't find it and were running out of fuel, so they abandoned their primary target and headed instead to Nagasaki.