August 7, 2008 – by Barry Cauchon.

August 6 – 9 marks the 63rd anniversary of the bombing of Japan with two atomic bombs which effectively ended the Pacific War and World War II between the Japanese and the Allies.

Mushroom cloud from the Nagasaki atom bomb rises some 60,000 feet (11 miles) into the atmosphere

When the United States made the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on Monday, August 6, 1945, the hope was that this action would end the war. The bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy”, was dropped by the B-29 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay. And although it took a second atomic bomb to force Japan to surrender, the Enola Gay’s name has gone down in history as the plane that was responsible for ending WWII.
But the crew of the Enola Gay only dropped the first bomb. Three days later, on Thursday, August 9, a second atomic bomb, this one nicknamed “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki. The B-29 that delivered this, the final blow to the Japanese, was known as Bockscar.

B-29 Bockscar Superfortress bomber

B-29 Bockscar Superfortress bomber

Bockscar was part of the same squadron as the Enola Gay, the 393d Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, of the 509th Composite Group (USAAF). It was named after its commander Captain Frederick C. Bock who, along with his crew C-13, participated in several bombing runs on Japan prior to the events that occurred in early August, 1945.


Originally, The Great Artiste commanded by Major Charles W. Sweeney was the plane scheduled to drop the second atomic bomb. Sweeney and his crew C-15 had previously flown The Great Artiste with the Enola Gay on her flight to Hiroshima on August 6, carrying instrumentation to record and support the mission. Upon their return Sweeney and his crew began to prepare for their turn. The next mission was planned for August 11 but due to a poor weather forecast, the commanders decided to move the attack up by two days, setting a new date of August 9. Sweeney and his crew had been doing training runs in Captain Bock’s plane Bockscar while The Great Artiste was to have its instruments removed and installed in another plane. However, when the mission date moved forward, it did not give the ground crews enough time to do the transfer, so it was decided that Sweeney and Bock would switch planes. Hence, Bock and his crew flew The Great Artiste in a support role on the mission and Sweeney and his crew, aboard Bockscar, became the primary unit to drop the second atomic bomb on Japan.


The primary target for the August 9 bombing mission was the industrial city of Kokura. However, when the Bockscar arrived over the city with Fat Man ready to be deployed, the crew found that visibility over the city was obscured by clouds and smog. Sweeney’s orders were specific in that the atomic bomb had to be dropped visually on the target. Failing to spot their target after passing over Kokura three times, Sweeney decided to proceed to the secondary target of Nagasaki. At 11:02am, Fat Man, the atomic bomb with 14.1 lbs of plutonium-239, was dropped. The bomb detonated about 43 seconds later at an altitude of about 1,540 feet above the ground. Approximately 40% of Nagasaki was destroyed.

Fat Man (replica) atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki Aug 9, 1945

Fat Man (replica) atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki August 9, 1945

Although Fat Man was considered a more powerful bomb than Little Boy, the hilly terrain helped to deaden the destruction whereas Hiroshima was flat and open and thus suffered much greater devastation. What twist of fate saved the people of Kokura and yet doomed so many citizens of Nagasaki?

It’s also known that many survivors of the Hiroshima bombing made their way to Nagasaki only to experience the second terrifying explosion all over again. Many of them did not survive the second time.


The overall death toll from these attacks was astounding. Not only did people die from the initial bomb blasts, but later died from burns, injuries or radiation poisoning. In Hiroshima, a city estimated with a population of about 350,000 people, over 70,000 died in the blast itself with estimates ranging from 70,000 to 130,000 potentially dying within the next 5 years. In Nagasaki, a city of 270,000 citizens, approximately 70,000 people died by the end of 1945.

Aftermath of the destruction of Nagasaki August 9, 1945

Destroyed temple in Nagasaki by atomic bomb August 9, 1945

It is hard for us, in this day of global cooperation and unity, to imagine how such destructive acts could have been implemented. But 63 years ago, a bitter war was raging and no mercy could be shown to the enemy, especially when the memories of Pearl Harbor were still so fresh in people’s minds. The Bockscar and her crew were part of this history, whether morally right or wrong. She did the job she was sent out to do and accomplished her mission. But history has almost forgotten her involvement and the Enola Gay still takes the spotlight.

Forgotten (by the masses), but not gone, the Bockscar lives on to this day.

In 1961, Bockscar was restored and put on permanent display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force Museum at Wrights-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Signage near the plane states “The aircraft that ended WWII”. Never has a statement been more true. But alas, the notoriety for  dropping the atomic bomb that ended the war still goes to her sister ship, the famous Enola Gay.

Bockscar and crew C-15

Crew C-15 standing in front of the first modified B-29 used for training purposes.

This link will take you to the National Museum of the United States Air Force Museum. Hit it and type in Bockscar in the search bar.

Here is the list of the 13 airmen who flew on the Bockscar on that historic mission 63 years ago and truly, ended World War II.

The crew of the Bockscar. Front row: Buckley, Kuharek, Gallagher, Dehart, Spitzer. Back row: Beahan, Van Pelt, Jr., Albury, Olivi, Sweeney.

Crew C-15 of the Bockscar

  • Major Charles Sweeney, Commander
  • Captain Charles Donald Albury, Co-Pilot
  • 2nd Lieutenant Fred Olivi, Third Pilot
  • Captain James Van Pelt, Jr., Navigator
  • Captain Raymond “Kermit” Beahan, Bombardier
  • Master Sergeant John Kuharek, Flight Engineer
  • Sergeant Raymond Gallagher, Assistant Flight Engineer
  • Staff Sergeant Ed Buckley, Radar Operator
  • Sergeant Abe Spitzer, Radio Operator
  • Staff Sergeant Albert Dehart, Tail Gunner

Additional Mission Crew on board August 9, 1945

  • Cmdr. Frederick L. Ashworth (USN), Weaponeer
  • Lt. Philip Barnes (USN), Assistant Weaponeer
  • 2nd Lt. Jacob Beser, Radar Countermeasures



Be sure to read “An Awesometalk With” ROBERT KRAUSS, 509TH COMPOSITE GROUP HISTORIAN.  This was an interview I did with Mr. Krauss and it will give you a really great insight into the 509th and the men that participated in the group and their missions.

Also, take a look at Mr. Krauss’ book “The 509th Remembered” which you can find on his website at .  If you do order one, please tell him that you saw it here so he can track where people are hearing about his book.





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77 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Today is August 9.
    Just as Hiroshima did three days ago (and does every year), the city of Nagasaki has a ceremony to mark this solemn occasion.

    Japan is the only country to have ever been the victim of a nuclear attack. And it must stay that way.

    • Japan was in fact a victim of her own warlord leaders and politicians, who rather than surrender, would have gladly seen tens of thousands die needlessly “IN GLORY”. Thank God for the emperor who intervened to stop it. Japan to this day, still does not teach the truth regarding this.

      • Well its part of the Japanese culture. But you wouldn’t know that considering you blaming Japanese warlards and leaders. You dont get the point. It was noone’s faul. You can’t hold noone accountable for thousands of innocent deaths

      • Hi Matthew: Thanks for your comments. I’m not sure what you are referring to regarding Warlords and Leaders and those who are at fault. This article did not deal with any of that. This article deals with the functional facts of the mission and that the memory of most people regarding the Atomic Bomb attacks on Japan by the United States often forget Bockscar’s involvement and only remember the first plane, the Enola Gay. However, I am happy to post your thoughts, as I will anyone’s, as long as they remain respectful and stay focused on the subject matter. If it becomes personal or abusive, it will not be posted on this blog. Thank you again for your comments and I look forward to hearing from you again.

      • There is something that no one has mentioned regarding the dropping of the bombs that ended the war. Japan held over a hundred thousand POW’s on mainland Japan & in Asia as slave labour, the commanders of the POW’s Camps had been ordered to execute all POW’s as soon as Allied troops set a foot on the Motherland.
        In Nagasaki Australian POW’s worked as slave labour in coal mines they were told by their guards that they were to be buried alive in the mines if Allied troops invaded.

      • Hi Bob: I don’t state this lightly when I repeat the saying, “War is Hell”! I am not as familiar with the treatment of prisoners during the Pacific campaign in WWII as I am during the American Civil War. Atrocities were performed during that period in many ways similar to what you describe. Humanity seems to disappear during wartime. It has occurred since the beginning of man’s conflicts with one another and continues to this very day. No side ever seems to escape this destiny. I suppose if war was humane, there would be no war. None the less, it is inconceivable to most people who have not lived through a war or served in the military to understand exactly how things like this can happen. It leaves people bitter and angry about these happenings even after 60 years. I appreciate your reminder and comments here. Thank you.

    • Victim or not, nothing will change history. America might have shortened the war, saving lives in their use of atomic weapons, but nothing will change what happened. As a youth, I lived in Japan, and visited Hiroshima and Nagasake, in the early sixties. And to this day, fifty plus years later, I remember the images, photos and “people negatives” where shadows were white, with scorching black around them, where people died those days. Not great happy memories, but ones that make me less likely to want to nuke anyone. Unless we are so attacked. But the ”Peace Movement”, that wants to declare parts of America Nuclear Free Zones, well, no missile is going to read the placards, and avoid those areas. Passing such laws, is a stupid waste of time and money. If nuclear war ever happens, all of mankind will soon live in a nuclear free zone, or be dead.
      The two planes, most citizens of America today, have little knowledge, or even care. When asked where the Berlin Wall was located, and their answers, show how little they care about history. If it is not on their smart phones, they pay no attention.

  2. Very well said.

  3. Thanks.
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  4. I am so glad you contacted me. There is so much we all can learn about other cultures. I’ve added you to my blogroll and hopefully others will come and visit you and your family’s blog and website.

  5. Thanks.
    I added your site to my blog’s “Friends” links.

    Please visit my site often…and feel free to comment on any of my posts.

  6. […] Force News » News BOCKSCAR … THE FORGOTTEN PLANE THAT DROPPED THE ATOMIC BOMB2008-08-09 15:43:51In 1961, Bockscar was restored and put on permanent display at the United States […]

  7. I met 2nd. Lt. Olivi years back at the annual WWII exibit at the Mid Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, Pa. It was an honor to meet him and talk to him. I will never forget the look in his eyes as he said to me, “The Memories.”I also saw Bockscar at the Air Force Museum. This is history that should never be forgotten so it does not occur again.

    • My Gynecology and Obstetrics Dr., Dr. James F. Van Pelt, of Corona, CA, was my Dr. for many years. He delivered my 3 sons and did numerous surgeries for which I am thankful. But, he NEVER told me anything about the part he played in WWII. He lived about a mile from me, and even asked me to go horseback riding with him several times. I feel privleged to have known him.

  8. Hi Todd: It is amazing to meet people from living history. Fred Olivi was listed as the third pilot on that very dangerous mission. No one can truly know what it was like and how the aftermath affected him later in life. But it was war time and the decisions made were right for that time and place. I agree, let’s pray this never happens again.
    I enjoyed your post. Thanks for commenting.

  9. Hello Barry,
    I reviewed your story on the “Bockscar”. There Is a correction that needs to be made. The plane behind the crew photo (taken at Wendover)was before they went overseas Is not the “Bockscar” but the first modified B29 that they trained with. They picked up their crew plane “The Great Artiste” In May,1945.
    As far as the results are concerned I knew 7 of the 13 men. Ray Gallagher, put It Into the best perspective for me. The Japanese, after the first bomb would not stop the fighting. It was their militaristic culture at the time that kept them going. If you were an American Serviceman slated to Invade Japan, the Bomb was the greatest thing on earth. It stopped the Japanese from fighting. It saved lives on both sides.

    • Ray Gallagher was my uncle and I am so very proud of what he and the other men did to end the war, although each of them would say that they were only doing what they were instructed to do.

    • The use of the two nuclear weapons actually killed less people than did our fire bombing of Tokyo. Reading of the wall of fire, that sucked the very oxygen out of the air, killing many not directly affected by bombings, was horrid. But so is many things about war.
      The use of the nuclear weapons, probably did more to show the Japanese people, that America was a terrible foe, and one that they should not fight. It changed the world for sure. The emperor addressed his people directly for the first time in history. How one can lead, yet be so out of touch with their subjects I cannot picture.
      And a little known footnote, along with forgotten airplanes, there were American POW’s killed in the nuclear attacks. But of course we the victors make little mention of that.
      Having lived in Japan for three years, as a youth, I found them to be non-hateful and full of life. Perhaps if leadership on both sides had been able to gather and talk, we might not have entered WWII so abruptly.
      My research shows that Japan knew they had lost the war, but were willing to continue fighting to the bitter end. The two atomic bombs, showed that we could destroy their entire nation, at will. For if we had two, they knew we had many. America, the land of plenty.
      Yes, we may have also held the idea of revenge on Japan, for the attack at Pearl Harbor. But that facet of history will never make it to light. Just dark hints of it. Along with it being possible that the Dec. 7th attack was a known deal. By not flying their third wave, and taking out the fuel and other resources, the attack ended not too much. A great loss of life, for little gain. Now days, Japan has Interests in much of Hawaii. Lost the war, winning it in buying power.

  10. Hi Robert: It’s an honor to hear from you. Thanks for responding to my request to review this story. I have changed the caption on the photo to rectify the information that you have provided for me. I truly appreciate your help and input. For those of you who do not know Mr. Robert Krauss, he is the 509th Composite Group’s historian and photo archivist. As well, he was the 509th Reunion Chairman from 2001-2006. And he is an honorary member of the 509th as elected by membership.

    Please see Mr. Krauss’ website at

  11. […] – America’s house price time bomb [BBC]…… saved by mylefthand2008-11-20 – BOCKSCAR … THE FORGOTTEN PLANE THAT DROPPED THE ATOMIC BOMB saved by chrisdaggimoh2008-11-19 – Stop Loss Snitch SPC. Casey Porter Killed by Roadside Bomb in […]

  12. Hi! Wonderful site! Great job! Hope this helps. Happy holidays!

  13. I have been asking my Dad for many years to tell me what he said that he never would about his time spent in the Army/AirCorps. He finally told me this evening that the original crew of the Enolo Gay was to be a total of 10 men, 5 officers and 5 enlisted. He then said that Curtis LeMay thought that there should be no enlisted men aboard, therefore leaving only 5 officers being a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, gunner, and radar man.

    After years of talking to my Dad, he told me this evening that HE was to be one of those 5 officers and trained for that flight!

    I could hardly catch my breath when he told me. I know that he flew a mission over Germany and was about 50 miles away from completing his mission when he was shot down. His plane was in flames, he bailed out and was captured. He spent 9 months in Stalag Luft 1 in Barth, Germany.

    I can only imagine what his life might have been, if he had been aboard the Enolo Gay.

    I have always thought that my Dad endured more than he ever told in the past, and this evening he told me the “Rest of the Story”.

    • Hi Arae: Thank you so much for this great comment. I am a big supporter of our service men and women and love hearing stories like this. For those of you reading this, Arae and I have had a follow up email conversation offline which I’d like to post part of now. It fills in a little more of the details.

      “My father’s name is George Hauck. He did not actually fly on the Enola Gay.
      He was in the 8th Air Force. He told me this evening that he had been selected to be one of the 5 officers to fly the Enola Gay and was going to be their radar man. He had been a Radar instructor in Boca Raton, Florida.
      But the plan for only 5 was scrubbed and they went back to the original plan
      of 10, 5 of which were enlisted men. My Dad was a 2nd Lt. He wound up
      being navigator on a B-17, on a Mission over Germany, was 50 miles away from
      home base after his mission and got shot down. Spent 9 months in prison
      camp in Stalag Luft 1, Barth Germany. He was known to his fellow kriegies
      as “Mickie”.

      Thank you for your interest. I am the only one in my family who has pursued
      my Dad’s service. I recently obtained the POW Medal for him and am now in
      the process of getting a replacement of his Bronze Star as all of his service medals were lost after surviving Hurricane Charley in Punta Gorda, Florida on August 13, 2004″.

      Arae, thank you for sharing your Dad’s story. I’m sure you are very proud of him. I look forward to hearing more in the near future.

  14. If it hasn’t been said yet, it might bear comment that the nose art most often seen on ‘Bocks Car’ is wrong for the Nagasaki raid…

    The thinking here is pretty simple.

    First, ‘Bocks Car’s’ nose art reads:

    “Salt Lake City to Nagasaki”

    But, it’s HIGHLY unlikey that the USAAC would have allowed the destination of it’s most secret mission to be revealed on the side of the aircraft prior to that mission!

    Plus, Nagasaki was an alternate, as mentioned in the article. It was only A-bombed after Kokura was attempted three times and then abandoned as primary. If the legend WAS to be painted on the nose prior to departure, it would have said “Kokura…

    So, while it is nit-picking, it should be remedied as part of the imagery of that moment. Most people think that Bocks Car headed off on it’s fateful misson with that bit of bravado plastered on the nose. But, there is no logic to support that notion.

    Most likely, it was added as “bragging rights” and/or a propoganda piece, later.

    • Hi David: Thank you for your comments. I can see you like the correct version of history presented for all to see. I do too.
      In brief, here is what the men who were actually involved in these missions have reported as found in Robert Krauss’ book
      “The 509th Remembered”. Robert is the historian for the 509th and we have conversed numerous times about the various aspects of the missions flown by the 509th including the two to drop the atomic bombs on Japan. I can assure you that the following is as accurate as you can get because it came from the men of the 509th as collected and confirmed by Robert Krauss.
      1. Like you suspected David, nose art for Bockscar, and most of the other 15 Silverplate B-29 Superfortress airplanes, was not part of the plane’s original markings during the atomic missions. These were added by the crew only after hostilities had ended with Japan. Photographs of the plane arriving back at Tinian after the bombing run on August 9 confirm this. One exception to this was, of course, the Enola Gay. Col. Tibbetts painted the name of his mother on the pilot side (left) of the nose prior to the Hiroshima mission. However, this did not occur with Bockscar.
      2. The nose art on Bockscar which eventually got added actually shows “Nagasaki (the Bockscar log) Salt Lake” with other markings above depicting the crew (not necessarily the plane) missions they participated in. Five of these are painted above the Bockscar nose art (one in red depicting the deployment of Fat Man, the Nagasaki bomb).
      3. The only markings on Bockcar at the time of the atomic missions were the large Sub Tail Marks on the tail (the letter “N” in a triangle) and the Victor number (77) on both sides of the fusilage behind the AAF logos and on the nose below the cockpit.

      The original markings that Bockscar had prior to the atomic missions were changed for security purposes just before the raids. The original Sub Tail Mark was a forward-pointing arrow in a circle. This was the mark of the 509th Composite Group. It was changed to the “N” in a triangle to help avoid detection that this plane was part of the 509th which had been bombing Japan in the weeks leading up to the atomic missions. The “N” in triangle represented the 444th Bombing Group, 58th Wing, West Field, Tinian.
      The original Victor number of Bockscar was ‘7’ but again, was change for the atomic mission flights by adding another ‘7’ in front of the original. Therefore, ‘7’ became ’77’.

      After the war ended, the “N” was replaced with the original forward-pointing arrow in a circle and the crew added the now famous Bockscar nose art.

      Bockcar is now on display at the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton, Ohio. To be clear, the markings shown on the plane depict the state it was in at the time of its decommissioning. See

      Thanks for your comments David.

      • Does anyone know the significance of the words “Salt Lake” on the nose art of Bockscar?

  15. Ed Buckley was my mom’s first cousin and its great that we can research the information.
    The family thought that he had died, it was several months during the mission. Their letters were held.

  16. That is awful. I think they just dropped the bomb cause they wanted to test out there new toy. and cause of that people can’t go to Heroshima.And if they do they’ll get radeation poisoning.

    • Hi Rachel: Thanks for your comment. It is easy to make this kind of statement about this event in hindsight. And although I believe that there is no reason to take the lives of civilians in any war, we must also remember that there was a war on at the time and have to keep that in context with why the bomb was chosen as a final solution. War is hell and most of us have never been exposed to the horrors of it. But it is real. And when Truman made the decision to drop the bombs, he did so to end the war that had raged on for several years. He was protecting his own countrymen, which any leader of their country would do in similar circumstances.

    • Rachael, i think there may be more than a grain of truth in what you say; and Awesometalks, i’m more or less with you in general principle about never bombing civilians… complicated emotional issue. but here’s my take: tomorrow, some jackass is going to kill your sons and daughters in a war and the President says to you, “Look, i can drop these bombs on some civilians and your kids can come home safe, or i won’t drop these bombs and half your kids will die and half will never be the same. your choice.”

      so do you say, “Ms./Mr. President, i’m an honourable person so please let my kids die for my honour.” or do you say, “Ms./Mr. President, please bomb the living hell outta the bas**rds and bring my kids home”?

      my Dad was at Bougainville, the Solomons, running an artillery unit when the bombs were dropped. if they hadn’t been dropped, i might never have been born. bygones are bygones and i favor world unity and peace, but i think it’s also important to remember that, even though the Japanese were responding in part to Western aggression domination and corporate profiteering, theirs was also a cruel regime, slaughtering Okinawan and Chinese and other civilians by the thousands… and despite all this, everybody loved and worshipped the Emperor.

      • Hi Den: Extremely well put. There never seems to be a clear cut answer to this. The sad part is someone always dies while others are saved. It’s war. I have a niece serving in Kabul right now. We worry about her a lot but it was her choice and she is proud to serve. We are proud of her too. I pray she never sees any real action. Thank you very much for writing. Support our troops and our veterans.

    • With all do respect Rachel, I must say that I find your comment to be quite naive if not offensive. You sit here safe and sound, 60 years later. Completely insulated from the horror, and the death, and the violence and loss that thousands of men and women from both countries were going through on a daily basis. For over4 years, the battles had become more and more horrific. Leading to Iwo Jima, and Okanowa. Two of the most destructive and terrifying battles ever fought. My father survived the battle of Iwo Jima and was one of those whose life may have been saved by those bombs. My children and my brothers,and sisters and their families, may never have existed if those planes hadn’t flown. I thank God for those brave men and what they did. There is no question it was the right thing. That’s as nice as I can say it.

  17. I was told that my uncle, Ernest Benefield, was a part of the Bockscar crew on that day, so why is he not in any of the mentions. He was a flight engineer.

    • Hi Martha. Thanks for your email. I’ve passed your message onto Robert Krauss, the historian for the 509th Composite Group, of which the crew of Bockscar was part of. As soon as I hear back from him, I’ll be happy to pass on his comments to you. I hope he can shed some light on your question.
      Have a great day.

    • Hi Martha: I heard from Robert Krauss, the historian for the 509th Composite Group regarding your inquiry. I hope his answer assists you with your search for your uncle’s involvement during WWII.

      “Hello Barry,
      I do hope that you will post the question and my reply on your website. As you may know we travel with the Enola Gay Navigator, “Dutch” Van Kirk around the US doing book signings. We encounter these types of questions many times and as Dutch says “If everyone who said they were on the mission that their relatives and friends said they were on we would have needed a fleet of 747’s. ”
      Sadly, this happens all too often. Unfortunately a relative steered Ms. Gabbard wrong. The crews of both atomic missions are well documented. Their names have been published many times and are in many reference books. The reason Mr. Benefield is not mentioned is because he was not part of the mission. In fact our records, which are very accurate, indicate that he was not one of the 1770 men in the 509th (Atomic) Composite Group. I suggest that she contact the National Archives which now has the personnel files from the Airforce. Best Regards. Bob Krauss”

      Thank you Bob for your quick response to Mrs. Gabbard’s question.

  18. Hi there. I never knew my grandfather, Albert ‘Travis’ Dehart, tailgunner on the Nagasaki mission because he died of Alzheimers at age 59. I would have loved to have heard his accounts of the mission first hand. From what I’ve learned through historical accounts, you’d think Paul Tibbits won the war single handedly. Thanks for profiling the Bock’s car. -Michelle Dehart West

    • Hi Michelle: Thank you for writing. Like a football quarterback, often the pilot of a special mission receives all the media attention despite the fact that the entire team had a hand in accomplishing the win. But it doesn’t make the contributions of the other team members any less important. That is what a ‘team’ is all about. Your grandfather flew on that critical second mission (the one that basically ended the war in the Pacific). Was that mission any more or less important than the first mission with Paul Tibbits? No, but history remembers things they way it wants to. Usually, first accomplishments are remembered. Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon! Very few people can name any of the other men that have walked on the moon. That is just a fact of human nature. Regardless, you should be proud of your grandfather. Many Americans are proud of him and all the men who fight for our country. My niece just returned from Afghanastan two weeks ago, and although she will never be written up or glorified for being over there, she is a hero to those that know and love her. You should feel the same about your grandfather. He may not be on the front page, but he will never be forgotten. He flew on Bockscar during that fateful mission over Nagasaki and that is an historical fact.

  19. Thanks for your kind words. I really enjoy your website!

  20. I have a picture of a B-29, thought to have been Bockscar, with tail markings of a large letter “B” inside a diamond with the number 997. Would anyone know if this plane was part of either atom bomb group?

    • Hi Bill: Robert Krauss, the historian for 509th Composite Group (the planes that dropped the atom bombs were part of this group. Mr. Krauss answered the following: “The No 509th plane had that tail marking. I suggest he go to sally anns b29 website. that site should give him loads of Info on b29’s and what bomb group that was. Thanks Bob


  21. I like this article/blog about the Bockscar. It helped me understand it.Thanks

  22. I was at a meeting the other night about Trinity Site here in NM. The person talking showed a picture of Bockscar (with after mission nose art) and said that Bock was the pilot’s name. He made a number of mis-statements such as calling Enola Gay “Enola Gray” a number of times. Major Sweeney’s name was the only one I corrected him on. I never thought to ask Paul Tibbets this when making the movie “Enola Gay” in Tucson but I did ask Chuck Sweeney, “Why was the untested gun type bomb used first?” “That’s the way the scientists wanted it” was his answer. Guess they had a great interest in seeing if it would work. They knew from Trinity Site that the “implosion” bomb would work.


  24. Where are the Bock’s Car and Artiste planes currently located?

    Wade Stock

    Son of Robert Stock who was in Fred Bock’s crew on the Nagasaki mission.

  25. Where is Bock’s Car? Artiste ?

  26. I enjoyed reading everything on this site. I have often reflected on the issue of atomic weapons with regard to the humanity (or lack of it) of taking “innocent” lives, but aren’t we all guilty? Surely even if we don’t directly participate in the rigors of all-out war those who do our fighting for us are no more culpable than those who were never in a combat zone.War is an abomination; nuclear war is an absolute abomination, taking the very elements of God”s creation process and unleashing it on unsuspecting children. women and the elderly. Why we as a species have not yet destroyed ourselves is a puzzlement; perhaps God is waiting to show us the difference between unnecessary evil, and necessary evil?
    That which is masterly hidden in bible verse does not reflect just past events, much is about what has happened before, and MUST happen again! I suspect that in fact we mat not actually be responsible for what we believe to be of our own choosing. Therefore,if this premise is indeed true, then who do we hold accountable for all those hideous decisions that have wreaked havoc on untold millions? I think the answer to that one is, “judge not and ye will not be judged”?! I guess none of us mortals will ever know for sure. but there are many lessons to be learned slong the way, if, one is predisposed to such a thing.

    • Sweeney’s big mistake was waiting 45 minutes (if memory serves) for the Lt. Col. in the photo plane to show up. (He never did show.) I would have waited 15 minutes, no more. Tom Garcia, retired USAF combat pilot.

  27. […] […]

  28. I am so glad someone had time to write it because I just got extra credit points on my test! Thanks! Keep up the good work

  29. My father served in World War II and was over in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Before his death I was given pictures that he had taken over there after the bomb was dropped. I believe they were taken Christmas of 1945. It is amazing the pictures. These are originals I guess that he sent home. These pictures are of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and there are a few of Kure, Japan. There is one that he has written on that shows where the bomb landed? I have on numerous occasions asked the paper if they would like to copy them and print them, I am amazed at the negativity I get from these people regarding what took place back then. I don’t think they understand or never will. My grandson has a project for class this next week and I am copying these pictures for his project. He is naming his project the “The Beginning and The End of World War II. We are ending his pictures with my Dad’s pictures. Great site to gather information regarding the planes that were involved in the ending of World War II. Carolyn Kinsey

    • Hi Carolyn. Thank you so much for your story. I would be very happy to look at your photos and post them if you wish. As divided as people are on the topic of using atomic weapons, we are talking about sharing part of the historical record photographically here, and not the politics of whether it should or shouldn’t have been done. My blog is always open to people who wish to state their opinions on a subject as long as they remain rational and respectful of others. Those that do not, never see their opinions posted here. Please forward your father’s images to Have a wonderful day and do let me know how your grandson’s project is received. It is important to carry on family history as well as world history.

      • Thanks Barry. I will let you know how his project turns out. He is in 7th grade. I’m enjoying helping him do this project. I will definitely get those pictures posted so that you can see them. They are small pictures but still get the point across very vividly! It is a very important part of our history and I agree wholeheartedly whether you agree or disagree about what happened it had to be done to stop the war.
        I will keep in touch. Thanks so much….Carolyn

  30. I’m curious if the radio officer listed under the crew names for Bockscar is correct. My impression was that Ralph Curry was the radio officer on the Nagasaki drop.

    • I am curious about Ralph Curry (my uncle) too! I know he was the radio operator on Bockscar, but I beleive he was an sergeant!

  31. For further context as to the atomic bombings, the casualties on Iwo Jima and Okinawa should be reviewed. Although many died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, countless others would have been casualties if an invasion of the major islands of Japan had occurred.


  32. In all of the arguments over dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan, much is made of the American and Japanese lives that were saved by the elimination of the need for an invasion. Most forget that people were dying all over Asia (China, Indonesia, Singapore, etc.) as a direct result of the brutal occupation of these countries by Japan. Using UN figures for civilian deaths in these countries, an estimate can be made of the monthly death toll – remember these deaths were a direct result of the Japanese occupation. The number is between 150,000 and 250,000 deaths EACH MONTH in Asian countries still occupied by Japan in 1945. Had the bombs not been used, the war would have lasted many more months, with these numbers of Asian people dying.
    Four more months of the war: between 600,000 and 1 million Asian deaths (mostly civilians). These must be counted in any assessment of the value of using the atom bombs.

  33. The lady that said “you can’t go to Hiroshima” because of the radiation. Bull! It’s a nice modern city now. I drive a Mazda, built in Hiroshima as are all current Mazda cars. Tom Garcia retired USAF pilot.

  34. Whether the Nagasaki bomb ended the war has been hotly debated. The entry of the Soviet Union into the Pacific War raised the issue with Japanese leadership that the resulting Soviet involvement in the peace process could mean the Emperor would not be allowed to remain in his position. Soviet advances in Manchuria were rapid in August 1945, and there was the prospect that they would be involved in a two-front invasion of the home islands, giving them a role in surrender negotiations.

  35. Well I have not forgotten it, not now not ever!!

    My father, Capt. S.L DeBriere was a POW during the entire war who from hell ships(3 to be exact as 2 were sunk by the Hornet) from the Philippines finally took him to Fukuoka Camp #3 which was so very close to BocksCar’s primary target. So If Major Sweeny and his crew could have hit that target it is very unlikely that I could be here today writing to you.
    As you may know there3 are those of us who say that on that day there were “God Sent Clouds” that protected our POW’s.
    Yet it is also sad, yes I mean this, so sad that so many innocent people in Nagasaki lost their lives so I could be here today to write to you.
    In the end the only conclusion is WAR is HELL and we must reasonably do what we can to prevent it as no one wins until many years after it is over.

    In or around 2005 I lived in Japan and am responsible for finding the exact location of Fukuoka Camp #3. I found that so many Japanese were very thoughtful and willing to help me. I have asked Governor Aso of Fukuoka to build a monument there but with no response.

    • Hi John,
      I couldn’t have said it better myself. I am proud to publish your post here and I hope that my readers, and kids in particular, get a better understanding of what our veterans (and even enemies at the time) went through. Our soldiers, their soldiers and many, many innocent people died during the war (and during all wars). War is hell. Let us never forget that. Thank you so much for your post.

  36. John T White and his bay9 crew did the changes so they could drop the bombs.He and his crew fixted the door so they could get the gunner out in the air

  37. Thank you – for my frredom to be here, to be ALIVE :)

    Deborah, uk born 1971

  38. Truman. Made. The right. Decision. And. Ok’d. The dropping of. The. Atomic. Bomb. It is estimated. We. Would have. Lost. A. Million. Men if we. Invaded. The. Mainland. Not. Counting. Prisoners. They. Held. In various. Camps. Would have. Been. Annialeted

  39. where is the plane bockscar now

    • Hi Richard,
      Thank you for the question. Bockscar is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Are you hoping to visit there to see it one day?

  40. One thing I don’t think people realize and never ever have seen discussed is obviously the weapons were developed before Truman was president. As Commander in Chief his duty is to to protect the country and it’s citizens not our enemies. But what would have happened had he chose to invade rather than drop the bombs? He could not have faced the country knowing he possibly had been able to prevent all the killed,wounded,missing of his own countrymen. What would have happened if the country found out that all the casualties might have been avoided by weapons and systems already in place and ready to go? You cannot use todays values and life experiences and apply them to yesterdays decisions.

    I have not yet been to see the Enola Gay but I have seen BocksCar many times. It has been 20 something years,last time just missing General Sweeney’s visit by days,since I have visited,but I was always amazed how accessible it was.
    I’ll have to get the book The 509th Remembered,I have read War’s End and Enola Gay which were excellent. Thanks Barry

    • Hi Gary,

      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. As you stated, history is too often viewed in the context of today’s values and standards and the ‘real’ reasons for decisions that changed the world are often misunderstood and taken out of context.
      Despite the events that took place 72 years ago, very few of us were even alive at the time to really experience the day-to-day coverage of the war, the propaganda (true or false) that was fed to the citizenship, the fear and hate of the Japanese and other Axis countries and, in general, the feelings of the nation that helped Truman and his cabinet make those decisions. I’m sure there were many people who were against such drastic actions but just as many or more supported them. I would suggest that with so many families affected by the war (all towns knew of many families whose sons had been drafted, sent off to war and killed) their opinions certainly would have leaned towards revenge and retribution with no guilt. “They hurt us so we are perfectly justified to hurt them back”!!!!! We see this everyday in our current lives. Today, we debate things like whether it was right or wrong to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If anyone comments on this without thoroughly researching and understanding the events of WWII and keeping it in context, then what you are getting is just someone’s opinion based on their current value system. I firmly believe this is not relevant to a discussion on an historical event. Anyone can have an opinion but an opinion does not give a fair view of history. On the other hand, if this same person has dug deeper into WWII and much better understands the big picture, then their opinion will carry much greater weight. Today’s communications technologies allow everyone to share opinions freely but, no matter how well intentioned those opinions may be, very few can be considered relevant because they lack real understanding of the history behind the events.

  41. Thank you. I’m just hearing of Bockscar. I have been searching for answers since.

  42. My father in law, Roderick Arnold, was flight engineer on Bock’s Car all through the war. Last minute changes put him in the Great Artiste that followed BC to drop the bomb on Nagasaki. We have an unpublished picture of the cloud and many memories of meeting the crews for all the missions. They were all together on Tinian Island for this mission So very top secret. He would never talk about it, but did answer questions. He and all the men were doing their jobs and were proud to serve for our country. Some great men that did what they had to do.

    • I would be glad to answer any questions, if I know the answers. I know quite a bit, but more of a personal level of the men involved.

    • Congratulation to your father-in-law for his service his country and all its citizens. Enola Gay and Bock’s Car saved uncounted allied lives.

  43. us

  44. Very well written, my dad was Navy and Air Froce. I was Air Force B-52G Crewchief. My brother’s boy is Navy combat air traffic control on the Regan.

  45. I wish everyone Who is a father keep it 100 thank you for finding time to sing this

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