Writing about war related photographs is a tough work. But ironically, a number of iconic photographs in history have emerged from the warring areas. These images have become so common place that we see them every now and then. But still man is not learning the lessons and wars are still a reality. Today I am going to write about an iconic photograph that we all know about. It is photograph of a cloud.
It was not a cloud that brings smile on our face. It was in fact the most horrible cloud that mankind can imagine in the modern era. It was a mushroom cloud that rose from the ground and went several kilometers up in the air. It was a cloud that appears after a nuclear bomb explodes. Today’s iconic photograph is a scary one. It reminds us of the perils of scientific developments, if not handled with proper judgement.
It happened in Nagasaki on 9 August 1945 at 11:01am (Japanese time). U.S. Air Force’s Bockscar bombardier, Captained by Kermit Beahan, dropped a nuclear bomb named Fat Man on Nagasaki; and 40,000 people died on the day of bombings. The total death toll in Nagasaki was over 80,000 people.
This photo immediately became iconic. The photographer’s name is unknown but it was taken from one of the B-29 Superfortresses used in the attack. The mushroom cloud shown in the photo rose 18 km (60,000 feet) into the air. Mushroom cloud is a typical mushroom shaped cloud formed of rising smoke, vapors and debris from an explosion. Though, commonly, these clouds are associated with nuclear explosions but any big enough explosion can cause the formation of clouds of such shapes.
The “Fat Man” bomb, dropped on Nagasaki, contained a core of 6.4kg plutonium. It devastated the entire city; flattening most of its structures. Just three days earlier the world had seen a similar mushroom cloud rising above Hiroshima.USA had dropped a nuclear bomb (code named Little Boy) on Hiroshima; killing over 90,000 people.
Unable to withstand the force of nuclear bombs; Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945 -six days after the attack on Nagasaki.