Enola Gay was the name of the specially modified B-29 US Army Air Force long-range bomber of the 509th Composite Group that dropped the atomic bomb nicknamed Little Boy on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on the morning of 1945-08-06.

The plane

Technical data:

Model: B-29-45-MO
Serial number: 44-86292
Wingspan: 141'3" (43.05m)
Height: 29'7" (9.02m)
Engines: Four 2200HP Wright Cyclone R-3350
Maximum speed: 360 mph (576 km/h)
Range: 3250 miles loaded
Crew: 12

Built at the Martin plant in Omaha, Nebraska, delivered 1945-06-15 and personally selected by Tibbets.

The mission

The plane was named after Enola Gay Tibbets, mother of the bomber's captain, Col. Paul W. Tibbets as a tribute for her support of his becoming an aviator. He gave it the name and had it painted on the plane before taking off from Tinian Island in the Marianas at 0245 local time amidst a media circus. By the time it returned at 1458 local time, the world had changed. This was the bomber's thirteenth mission and third combat mission, following raids on Kobe and Nagoya during the last eight days of July. Three days later it flew again, this time towards Nagasaki, supporting the second atomic bomb drop with weather reconnaissance.

The crew

The crew of the Enola Gay on that fateful Monday morning were:

Flight crew

  • Col. Paul W. Tibbets (pilot and CO of the 509th Group)
  • Maj. Thomas W. Ferebee, (bombardier)
  • Capt. Robert A. Lewis (co-pilot)
  • Capt. Theodore J. Van Kirk (navigator)
  • Lt. Jacob Beser, radar (countermeasure officer)
  • Lt. Morris R. Jeppson, (bomb electronics test officer)
  • S/Sgt. Wyatt E. Duzenbury, (flight engineer)
  • S/Sgt. George R. Caron (tail gunner)
  • Sgt. Joseph S. Stiborik (radar operator)
  • Sgt. Robert H. Shumard, (assistant engineer)
  • Pfc. Richard H. Nelson, (radio operator)
  • Navy Capt. William Parsons, (Scientist on the Manhattan Project)

Ground crew

  • Lt. Col. John Porter (ground maintenance officer)
  • Technical Sgt. Walter F. McCaleb
  • Sgt. Leonard W. Markley
  • Sgt. Jean S. Cooper
  • Cpl. Frank D. Duffy
  • Cpl. John E. Jackson
  • Cpl. Harold R. Olson
  • Pfc. John J. Lesniewski

Since then

Following the end of the war, the Enola Gay took part in the nuclear program known as Operation Crossroads and was placed in storage at an Arizona airfield after being retired on 1946-08-30 before being given to the Smithsonian on 1949-07-04. It last flew on 1953-12-02 when it landed at Andrews AFB in Maryland where it was left to rust in outdoor storage until 1961. In 1961 it was disassembled by the Smithsonian and moved to a restoration facility. Work on its preservation and reconstruction did not begin until 1984 and the first phase lasted ten years after which parts of it were put on display between June 1995 and May 1998. As of 2003-08-18, the fully restored Enola Gay is located at the Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum and can be viewed by the public.

Factual sources:
National Aeronautics and Space Museum
Col. Tibbets' Enola Gay web site

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