Randy has had a nice little bounce-back during this second week of his first cycle of chemotherapy. (Doctors plan four two week cycles.) He suggested an outing to the Commemorative Air Force Museum. We spent an enjoyable day exploring this museum last spring. The blogpost from that visit is Chapter 5: Yours, Mine and Ours.
As we’ve visited before, we went this time to hear a presentation by Jim Olivi about his uncle’s involvement in dropping the bomb on Nagasaki.
Lt. Fred Olivi was the co-pilot on Bockscar, the plane that held the bomb dropped on Nagasaki and author of the book Decision at Nagasaki: The Mission That Almost Failed.
The bomb dropped over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 weighed 2500 lbs. and contained uranium. It was carried on the Enola Gay. A second bomb was planned for Kokura on August 11. It was a 10,000 lb. Fat Boy containing plutonium. A third bomb, destined for Tokyo and never used, was also a Fat Boy containing plutonium.
As bad weather rolled in, the mission for Kokura was moved up to August 9. The plane, Bockscar, was loaded and readied for take off. (Bockscar was named for its usual captain Frederick Bock but he did not fly it on August 9.)
Six hundred and forty gallons of fuel were loaded in an auxiliary tank for the return flight. Before takeoff the pilots learned that the pump for this tank was not working and fuel would not be available for a return flight. Given the urgency of the mission and weather conditions, the pilots decided to proceed anyway.
Three planes, the bomber, the science/instrumentation plane, and a photography plane had designated meet-up coordinates. Two of the planes met up and but the third was at the wrong altitude. The two proceeded on to Kokura.
The Fat Boy bomb was armed once Bockscar took off and was set to go off when it dropped to 1800 feet of elevation. Returning to base with the bomb still on the plane was not an option.
When they arrived over Kokura the weather was too bad to gain visual target, a required element of the drop. They made three unsuccessful passes and then proceeded to Nagasaki, the secondary target.
Also obscured by weather, the Nagasaki target was not seen on the first pass. The target was viewed on the second pass and the Fat Boy was dropped.
Bockscar had to veer off quickly to get seven miles away before detonation to avoid being enveloped. Even then they felt three shockwaves.
Olivi described the mushroom cloud as having a myriad of colors, dominated by salmon pink.
After the drop, the next goal was to land on Okinawa. Radio contact failed and Bockscar just moved into place for landing while other planes got out of the way. They had extra weight because of the unused fuel and as a result, came in 25 mph too fast. Their usable fuel was down to fumes.
They was able to land safely in part because Bockscar was one of fifteen B29s equipped with reversible propellers. Normally that feature allowed the aircraft to move backwards on the ground for loading or taxi. In this case the reversible propellers helped reduce speed.
Bockscar is now in the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. Notice the five fat boy mission markers – the red marker designates the live drop on Nagasaki.
We came home to our trailer site located along Canal Street in the Val Vista RV Resort. There is a Salt River Project canal behind us which we like because the openness allows for nice sunset views out our back window.
But this afternoon we had a bonus canal right behind us and another bonus canal in front of us on what is usually the street.
The water rose rapidly and it became apparent that some drainage grates were blocked. Randy joined several of our neighbors in removing debris to allow a better flow. Unfortunately the rising water toppled a garbage can and several of us had to snag floating garbage.
As I write the sun is peeking out of the clouds and the street is mostly clear of water. The canal behind us remains.
On Monday Randy starts cycle two of his chemotherapy. Even though some of the impact will be cumulative, we have learned some strategies and are hopeful he will get a nice bounce back again in week four.