iLocal News Archives

US preps for nuke on Hiroshima & Nagasaki

Declassified photos show the US’s final preparations for the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Military & Defense Team

atomic bomb National Archives

On August 6, 1945, the US dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, following up three days later with another bomb on Nagasaki.

The bombs, known as “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” were loaded onto bombers at the North Field airbase on Tinian Island in the Northern Mariana Islands, which are south of Japan.

Until recently, few photographs of the run up to the attacks were available.

But declassified pictures shed light on the preparations for the bombings — the first and only wartime nuclear bombings in history.

While seemingly mundane, these photos show us what it was like to prepare for one of the most important moments in modern history.

First seen on An earlier version of this post was composed by Christian Storm.

Soldiers check the casings on the “Fat Man” atomic bomb. Multiple test bombs were created on Tinian Island. All were roughly identical to an operational bomb, even though they lacked the necessary equipment to detonate.
National Archives

On the left, geophysicist and Manhattan Project participant Francis Birch marks the bomb unit that would become “Little Boy,” while Norman Ramsey, who would later win the Nobel Prize in physics, looks on.
National Archives

A technician applies sealant and putty to the crevices of “Fat Man,” a final preparation to make sure the environment inside the bomb would be stable enough to create a full impact once it detonated.
National Archives

Soldiers and workers sign their names and other messages on the nose of “Fat Man.”
National Archives

Here’s a closer look.
National Archives

“Fat Man” is loaded onto a transport trailer and given a final once-over.
National Archives

The bomb is then escorted to the nearby North Field airbase on Tinian, shrouded by a tarp.
National Archives

At the airfield, “Fat Man” is lined up over a pit specifically constructed for it, from which it is then loaded into the plane that eventually dropped it over Nagasaki.
National Archives

Both pits for “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” each roughly 8 feet by 12 feet, still exist today on the island and now serve as a memorial of sorts.
(L) National Archives/ (R) Jeffrey Tripp/FLICKR

The bomb and its trailer are lowered down into the pit using a hydraulic lift.
National Archives

Workers check “Little Boy” one last time, keeping the tarp on for security reasons, following a lowering procedure similar to the one done for “Fat Man” three days later.
National Archives

Once “Little Boy” is ready, the Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, is reversed and positioned over the trench.
National Archives

The tarp is removed and the bomb is readied for loading.
National Archives

Using the hydraulic lift, “Little Boy” is carefully raised and loaded into the belly of the Enola Gay.
National Archives

Once inside the plane, the bomb is secured and all connections and equipment are checked again.
National Archives

From there, both “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” were flown over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively, dropped, and detonated. On August 15, Japan announced its intention to surrender, signing formal documents to that fact on September 2, ending World War II.

Left: Atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Right: Atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, taken by Charles LevyAP

For more on this story go to:


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *