Little Boy, Fat Man, and Trinity

The Explosions That Shook the World


Copy from U.S. National Archives, RG 77-AEC. Chuck Hansen, The Swords of Armageddon: U.S. Nuclear Weapons Development Since 1945 (Sunnyvale, CA: Chukelea Publications, 1995)

By: Thomas Ahern, Journalist

It all started on July 16th, 1945, when the first ever atomic bomb was tested in New Mexico. The bomb was called Trinity, and it was part of a top secret operation known as the Manhattan Project, led by Robert Oppenheimer. After he saw the power of the bomb, he stated, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” The reason why he said this was because it was true. The massive explosion caused by the bomb could cause so much damage that just a few dozen of them could destroy the earth. Across the Pacific Ocean, however, the Japanese were deciding not to surrender, so the USA needed to take extreme measures. The US military had the scientists create two more nuclear bombs, and whilst they did that, the military came up with a date for the bombings.

On August 6th, 1945, an atomic bomb known as Little Boy was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. It completely obliterated five square miles of the city, and 92% of the structures were at least damaged by explosions and fire. Three days later, on August 9th, 1945, the USA dropped another atomic bomb, Fat Man, on Nagasaki, which was a different Japanese city. This bomb weighed a whopping half ton more than Little Boy, however it only destroyed three square miles of the city. It had initially been targeting the Kokura Arsenal, but because of poor weather and anti-aircraft gunfire, they changed their target from the Kokura Arsenal to Nagasaki.

These two bombs triggered the nuclear age, a period of time starting after the atomic bombs were dropped, and was considered by many to have ended when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Overall, these two bombs had some of the largest effects on human history recorded; without them, our technology would not have been nearly as advanced as it is right now.


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