The blinding flash made us completely lose any sense of what we were doing at that moment. As the flash dissipated and subtle bits of darkness started creeping in, the image cleared up and that is when we saw it, standing with colossal might, the cloud that made had as in awe of its humongous form. For a few moments, the mushroom shaped figure of the light and smoke made us forget about the war and a sense of almost spiritual regression and fear crept in. Was this a way the mighty gods were raining their wrath upon us? Was this how judgment day would look like? Was this the price that we had to pay for our collective sins?
That is when the first vibrations started, slowly engulfing us in a sea of sound, rumbling and shaking the earth as the wave approached us ever closer by the second. The windows cracked with an immense shrill and the next moment I found myself thrown back towards the fridge as the noise of a million screaming banshees overtook the air, shrill and deep. Had the final hour of reckoning arrived? As the shrill died down, I slowly crept up amongst the pieces of glass on the floor and saw the full figure of destruction in the distance. That is when reality hit us in our faces. The world was still very much alive while the war had taken a twist like no other.
Apocalypse may have looked pretty damn close to what Hiroshima looked like after the immense wave of destruction that “Little Boy” had unleashed on the city had done its job.
“I could not understand why our surroundings had changed so greatly in one instant. I thought it might have been something which had nothing to do with the war, the collapse of the earth which it was said would take place at the end of the world.”
-Yoko Ota (a writer in Hiroshima at the time of the blast)
Now, imagine a scenario where the makers of this destructive device suffered its own wrath? Or better yet, what if the atomic bomb was not armed at all? Seems a bit far-fetched doesn’t it. But, what if I told you this fate was much closer to fulfillment than one might imagine.
The first atomic bomb, “Little Boy”, for use against an enemy was delivered to the U.S. Air Base on Tinian just a few days before the famous Hiroshima mission. This bomb was unarmed. The night before the mission, the weapons officer for the bomb practiced arming it on the airplane because they were going to arm it in flight, rather than take off with an armed atomic weapon aboard (B-29’s had a too frequent tendency to crash on takeoff to risk blowing up the whole air force!). The chosen aircraft for the mission was a Boeing-29 known as the Enola Gay. After practicing arming the weapon for the night, the weapons officer left the arming keys, as well as the tools to arm the bomb, on the catwalk of the Enola Gay’s bomb bay. No big deal, right?
Little did the Americans know that the Japanese were planning a suicide commando type raid against the Island of Tinian for that very night. The only thing that stopped them was the aircraft designated for the raid were attacked by carrier based American planes earlier in the week, rendering the raiding party without transport.
Neither side knew how close the Japanese came to capturing or destroying the first atomic bomb, intact, and ready to be armed. Would World War II have ended any differently had those carrier planes not hit so many Japanese transports? Who knows?
This is one of the situations which would have decided the fate of the war single-handedly. The atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki were one of the major reasons due to which the Japanese surrendered and contributed towards the end of the war. What if the bomb did not go off? Would that have been a boon for the countries or would it have caused the continuance of the destructive war for many more years than it actually lasted for? Yes, war is a complicated and meaningless thing, it only ends in a bang that is big enough to cause a colossal difference, or else it just looks for a balanced diet to satiate the appetite for destruction that characterizes the act.