"Experimental US "A" Bomb a Dud" by Jeff Provine
says: we're very pleased to present the twenty-nineth story from Jeff
Provine's excellent blog
This Day in
Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this post
do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
On August 6th 1945,
at 8:15 Hiroshima time, the B-29 Enola Gay commanded by Colonel Paul
Tibbets dropped a single bomb over the Japanese city.
It was the lead of three planes, the other two full of instruments and
recording devices to see what would come of the experimental "atomic" bomb
code named "Little Boy". From the explosions in at Trinity in New Mexico,
expectations were immense. President Truman hoped that the new weapon
would end the war quickly, giving enough cause that the Japanese would
surrender as outlined in the Potsdam Declaration issued on July 26.
"Nagasaki bomb was a different and more reliable
design. Zero chance we would not have tried it" - reader's commentThe
bomb fell, but it did not detonate. Scientists and historians speculate
continually on what went wrong, and theories range from improperly
deactivated safety devices, lackluster uranium, sabotage, or simply the
hand of God. It smashed impotent into a row of offices near the Shima
Surgical Clinic. The Japanese, who had spotted the three planes on radar
and assumed they were merely a reconnaissance mission, were confused by
the mission. They collected the remains of the bomb that afternoon and
returned them to military headquarters for investigation.
When the Japanese discovered radiation burns on the handlers of the
uranium, their military investigators and scientists determined the bomb
to be a sort of "extermination" weapon. As reports of this came to the war
council and Emperor, the government began to fear for what an invasion of
the home islands by such barbarians would bring. Some felt the need to
surrender to terms to prevent annihilation of the people, and others felt
all the more the need to defend themselves.
Meanwhile, in America, Truman was furious. Billions of dollars and
countless man-hours had been spent developing, to quote Truman, "a damned
fool newfangled" weapon that did not work as it should. He shelved
delivery of the "Fat Man" bomb and prepared for a bloody military
invasion. His only solace was that the Russians would be with them since
Foreign Minister Molotov had declared war on August 5.
"It would have been politically suicidal for Truman
to have acquiesced in the survival of an Imperial Japan" - reader's
commentAs Hirohito considered surrender, the Staff Office in the
Ministry of War considered otherwise. They convinced him that they could
bloody the Allies into an agreeable treaty. Bracing for invasion, Japan
placed itself under a military state of emergency. Soviet tanks rolled
through China and Korea while the Allied Fleets in the Pacific and on
Okinawa prepared for an October landfall on Kyushu dubbed Operation
Olympic. During the winter, Hirohito could not stand to see the suffering
of his people any longer, and he surrendered December 29, 1945, with a
clear depiction of his own power over the home islands.
While the Soviets occupied Korea and much of China, Britain and the United
States occupied southern regions of the former empire. War criminals were
brought forward, and the Emperor worked handily with foreign diplomats,
though they were kept out of Japan proper as much as possible.
The atomic bomb remained science fiction for the military as much as death
ray weapons and mind control. Though the Cold War saw more experimentation
into nuclear super-weapons, they were rarely brought into the public
scene. Instead, the world was more concerned with the balance of power as
seen between the East and West in Europe as well as disputes between North
and South China (which would see the prolonged Chinese War from 1955 to
1975) and heroic waterborne escapes from Soviet Korea to nearby Imperial
says in reality, the atomic bomb did detonate as it should 1,900 feet
above Hiroshima. The second at Nagasaki showed that the United States could
unleash the weapon anywhere (although a ruse, since there were no more bombs
prepared). Citing the atomic bomb as "a new and terrible weapon with the
power to destroy many innocent lives and do incalculable damage" and noting
the strength of the coming Soviet invasion, the Emperor chose surrender on
August 14, 1945.
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Today in Alternate History web site.
Jeff Provine, Guest Historian of
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