Another Excellent Addition/Correction from

Ted Wilkinson

There was a 4th A-bomb

In the article (Trinity) the statement is made that "The allies had only three, two left after the test."

Actually the allies didn't have any. The United States had two left after Trinity which they used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but they also had another plutonium bomb which became ready for use at about the time the Nagasaki bomb was dropped.

This bomb was still in the U.S. and following Nagasaki, Tibbets was directed to get that bomb to Tinian immediately. The Japanese didn't capitulate immediately following the Nagasaki bombing, but President Truman ordered that the third bomb not be used, and before that order was amended, the Emperor ordered the cease fire and the end of the Japanese resistance. (Basically the surrender of Japan) The third bomb was disarmed and subsequently transferred to the Smithsonian Museum and was stored at the Paul Garber facility located at Silver Hill, Maryland (where it may still reside.)

The distinction about the allies no having any bombs was an "all U.S. effort" in the use of both bombs is significant in that the British formally requested to put a crew member aboard the Enola Gay, and on orders of President Truman they were firmly rebuffed. The President made it abundantly clear that this was to be exclusively an American effort.

The exclusion of the British from the Hiroshima mission, was mentioned in the book, "Enola Gay" by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts (Pocket edition, 1978 printing) on page 234 states that, "The war cabinet had insisted that Britain be represented when the bomb was dropped. President Truman had agreed 'in principle' to this at Potsdam."

Then on page 268 of the same volume they state that at the preflight briefing, "At 2:45 the British contingent arrived. Both Cheshire and Penny were grim-faced, having just been told by LeMay that they were to be excluded from flying on the first atomic mission. Hoping for a last minute reversal of the order, they seated themselves behind the scientists."

If indeed Truman had at least tacitly agreed to British participation in the first atomic mission, it is unlikely in the extreme that anyone had overruled the President. Or to state it more succinctly, the President had put them off the flight. The Enola Gay was of course joined by two other B-29s at Iwo Jima, and one of those had a Britisher onboard.

As to the existence of the third bomb, as I mentioned it was still being assembled at the time the Nagasaki bomb was used. Right after the Nagasaki bomb, the President ordered a halt to the use of nuclear weapons. I don't recall ever reading whether the third bomb ever left the U.S. of A. I've been told that this bomb was completely disarmed (both the plutonium pit and the high explosive detonator) and it now resides in the Smithsonian Museum, Paul Garber Restoration Facility located at Silver Hill, MD. It is/was identical to the Fat Man bomb.

Ted Wilkinson

Editor's note:

About Ted Wilkinson

Ted Wilkinson has provided several worthwhile additions to Kilroy Was Here. He is a retired professional pilot and an amateur historian. He was born in 1935 and so was 10 when WWII ended. After getting his BS in Metallurgical Engineering at Le Tourneau College, now LeToutneau University he worked in the field for six and one half years then flew as an airline pilot for 35 years.
His father owned the first private A/C (an Alexander Eaglerock) in Floyd County, TX. He grew up around airplanes, achieved Private, Commercial, Instrument licences. He holds ATP ratings in Learjet, B-727, B-757, B-767, FAA licensed Mechanic, Flight Engineer (Reciprocating, Turbine.)

He resided in Washington, D.C. area for several years and volunteered as a restoration technician at the Garber facility where the forth bomb was stored but says he never actually saw it. Even the shape of the bombs into the late 1950s was classified so was never seen without clearance and "need to know." He helped restore the Curtis F9-C 'Sparrowhawk'.

Alexander Eaglerock
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Image courtesy

Sparrowhawk with Macon
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Image courtesy

He also worked at what was formerly the "Electromagnetic separation plant" in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The U-235 for the "Little Boy" bomb was produced by the "Electromagnetic separation" process. Ted says "When they finally got it going,

it became apparent that the "Gaseous diffusion" process was substantially more efficient, and that's the process that was finally settled on, but initially the Electromagnetic process got going sooner and actually produced the first product. "

He remains active in aviation, owning and flying a Cessna 182. He is a member in the "OX-5 Aviation Pioneers," "Ancient and Secret Order of Quiet Birdmen," and Lifetime Member of the "Experimental Aircraft Association." He attended the EAA Convention in Oshkosh every year from 1972 to 2000. He is also a Lifetime Member of the "American Aviation Historical Society."

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