By the time the atom bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the Second World War had raged for six years. Germany had been defeated and Europe lay in ruins.
Focus turned to Japan, the last Axis Power country. US President Harry Truman and his military commanders knew that an invasion of Japan would be extremely costly in terms of Allied lives - up to a million casualties were predicted. So they resolved to use the newly developed atomic bomb to reduce Japanese cities to rubble without setting foot on land.
So it was that a B29 Superfortress nicknamed Enola Gay after the pilot's mother dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later a second bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. Between 129,000-226,000 people were killed, mostly civilians. About half died instantly when the bombings happened, and the rest died from radiation sickness and other illnesses in the days and weeks after.
The moral, legal and ethical issues of the bombing are still debated today. Days after the attacks, Japan surrendered to the Allies, and came under a US-led military occupation.
Photographer: Personnel aboard the B-29 Superfortress 'Necessary Evil'
Date taken: August 6, 1945
Location taken: Hiroshima, Japan
- 1945-08-06 Atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima by the US B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay"
- 1995-08-06 Thousands gather in Hiroshima for the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city
33rd US President
Emperor of Japan
Physicist and Father of the Atomic Bomb