Hiroshima and Nagasaki

In 1945, towards the end of World War 2, tensions were high between the US and Japan. The US was still bitter towards Japan from the bombing of Pearl Harbor which occurred in 1941. In 1939 the US, along with support from other Allied powers, began the Manhattan Project which was the invention of atomic bombs. They produced these bombs in fear the Germans would develop the first atomic bomb. In May of 1945, Germany surrendered to the Allied forces. After Germany surrendered, it looked as if the Allied forces had a better chance of winning the war. Japan became a larger threat to the Allied forces. On July 27th, 1945 the Allied powers asked Japan to surrender. However, they did not. The Allied powers then decided to drop the atomic bombs developed in the Manhattan Project on Japan, in hopes that they would surrender. On August 6th, 1945 at 8:15 AM the first bomb, called “Little Boy,” was dropped on Hiroshima. Three days later the second bomb, called “Fat Man,” was dropped on Nagasaki.

BBC Documentary Video

The bombings occurred in two different cites, both located In Japan. Both cities are in the south-west area of Japan. Nagasaki is about 265 miles south of Hiroshima. Before the bomb, Hiroshima’s population was approximately 370,000 people and Nagasaki’s population around 240,000 people. Hiroshima was an urban industrial area, but it was surrounded by a large rural area. Hiroshima was home to many military camps and training bases. Nagasaki was a growing urban area on the coast and also home to largest sea port in Southern Japan. Nagasaki produced a lot of military equipment. Hiroshima’s was mainly flat and low while Nagasaki was hilly. Hiroshima has a mild climate with warm summers. Nagasaki has a warm climate, but it can also get cool because of being on the coast.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Comparison

The Allies caused the release of the bombs onto the cities. They spent 6 years on the Manhattan Project developing the first atomic bombs. This was not an accident or a malfunction, but an act of war. It is still controversial to many people if this could have been prevented. For example, if Japan would have not bombed Pearl Harbor or would have surrendered when the Allies gave them a warning, the destruction could have been prevented.

~Hiroshima-Little Boy

The bomb dropped from Little Boy was known as a Gravity Bomb. This is a bomb that once dropped from the aircraft cannot be controlled, or in other words is controlled by gravity. The bomb fell from the B-29 for about 43 seconds before it exploded. The bomb contained approximately 135 lbs. of Uranium-235(a solid). The energy released by the bomb is equal to 15,500 tons of TNT. The bomb released radiation, gamma rays, beta rays, and thermal ray which were very dangerous.

~Nagasaki-Fat Man

The plan for dropping Fat Man was similar to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima as far as flying procedures. Fat Man contained 14 lbs. of plutonium (a solid). It also took Fat Man 43 seconds to fall before it exploded. The energy released by this bomb was about 21,000 tons of TNT. Fat Man released many dangerous substances as well. This design was much more complex than that of Little Boy.

~Hiroshima-Little Boy
Everything within about a 1 mile radius of where Little Boy exploded was destroyed. The only buildings that remained inside the one mile radius were concrete buildings meant to withstand earthquakes. Outside of this one mile of complete destruction, there were fires that destroyed and substances in the air that harmed people’s health along with many other factors. Japanese government said that 70% of buildings were destroyed and 10% damaged.

~Nagasaki-Fat Man
The radius of Fat Man was just over a mile. Everything within a half mile was completely destroyed and in the other mile there was a considerate amount of damage such as homes being destroyed by fires that spread. However, some of the stronger buildings still remained here.

~These events both had permanent damage to the city, people, and many other factors. The damage took many years to clean up, and steps are being taken today to insure that the cities are safe. This event will be remembered by many peoples lives were never the same.
Before Bombing of Hiroshima

After Bombing of Hiroshima

There were many environmental impacts from the bombings. Basically everything from drinking water, plant and animal life, air, agricultural necessities, surface water, and soil were impacted by the bombs. Many plants and animals were killed immediately following the blasts, or months later from radiation poisoning or other diseases caused by the bombing. The drinking water was affected because wells were filled with radioactive sand. Surface water was polluted by radioactive waste along with other contaminants from the bombs. The air was polluted by the radioactive chemicals and dust particles in the air.


Right after the bombings many steps were taken to clean up the rubble of the city. The fires had to be put out so they did not spread even further. Buildings and homes began to be cleaned up and disposed of. Transportation methods in the cities were mostly destroyed, which made cleanup efforts difficult. Rebuilding of the cities has taken decades. It took about a year for the radiation to fully go away. Today, there is not a harmful amount of radioactivity. The area is still tested on a regular basis to make sure it is safe. However the chances of getting Leukemia here are much higher than normal elsewhere. The estimated amount that it took to clean up after the bombings is $365 billion.

~Hiroshima-Little Boy
The bomb dropped on Hiroshima exploded almost directly above the Shima Surgical Clinic. Because of this, about 90% of doctors and nurses were killed immediately, leaving the ones that were alive to care for the injured in a wild, chaotic rush. About 75,000 people in Hiroshima were killed instantly and another 70,000 injured. It is estimated that by 1950 200,000 deaths occurred from damage and long-term effects from the bombing.

~Nagasaki-Fat Man
Fat Man was dropped over the industrial part of the city. At least 10 POW’s were killed in the bombing and one American POW injured. Numbers in Nagasaki are a little less exact but approximately 75,000 died immediately and another 5,000 by five years later. Plus, many from the long term effects of the bomb

As stated above, many died instantaneously from the bomb. If they survived the initial bombing, many had effects such as nausea, major skin rashes and burns, radiation poisoning, loss of hair and white blood cells, nausea, and severe vomiting and headache which often resulted in death. The ones who survived later suffered many health issues such as birth defects in their children, cancer, severe scaring, cataracts, tumors, and heart and lung issues.
Scar from thermal radiation

"Hiroshima: The First City Destroyed by a Nuclear Weapon." Pictures of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Web. 24 May 2012. http://www.nucleardarkness.org/hiroshima/.

"Hiroshima & Nagasaki Remembered." Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembered. Web. 24 May 2012. http://www.hiroshima-remembered.com/.

"The Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." History.com. A&E Television Networks. Web. 24 May 2012. http://www.history.com/topics/bombing-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki.

"Hiroshima Committee." Hiroshima Committee. Web. 24 May 2012. <http://www.hiroshimacommittee.org/Facts_NagasakiAndHiroshimaBombing.htm>

"The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima And Nagasaki." About.com 20th Century History. Web. 24 May 2012. <http://history1900s.about.com/od/worldwarii/a/hiroshima.htm>.