On 6 August 1945, in the closing days of the Second World War, the US dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima in Japan. The 4,400kg bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, was carried by the US B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, carrying 12 crew members. The bomb was detonated 2,000ft above Hiroshima, releasing energy equivalent to around 15,000 tonnes of TNT, flattening five square miles of the city in seconds.
The death toll by the end of the year was estimated at about 140,000, out of the total of 350,000 who lived there at the time. The city still has
some 60,000 survivors, with an average age approaching 80. The ground crew of the B-29 Enola Gay pose for a photo with the aircraft at their base in Tinian, Mariana Islands. Colonel Paul Tibbets, the pilot, is smoking a pipe in the centre of the group US Air Force/Reuters The atomic bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, is seen before being loaded into Enola Gay's bomb bay US National Archives An atomic cloud mushrooms over Hiroshima, in this photo taken from the Enola Gay flying over Matsuyama, Shikoku National Archives An aerial view of Hiroshima showing the devastation caused by a single atomic bomb Getty Reconnaissance photo of Hiroshima before the atomic bomb was dropped Museum of World War II Boston Reconnaissance photo of Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped Museum of World War II Boston 6 August 1945: An aerial view of the damage at Hiroshima shortly after the atomic bomb was dropped Keystone/Getty Images A man wheels a bicycle through Hiroshima after the dropping of the atomic bomb. The street in this photograph is approximately half a mile from the location where the bomb was detonated, indicating the extent of the devastation to the city's buildings and roads US National Archives People walk along a road through the devastated city AFP Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped Getty A burnt-out fire engine is seen in the rubble Getty August 1945: The twisted wreckage of a theatre, located 800m from the epicentre of the atomic explosion Getty September 1945: A Japanese soldier walks through a levelled area of the city National Archives Circa 1947: A victim of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima shows the burns on his arms Getty Patients at the Tokyo Imperial University Hospital display injuries suffered as a result of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima Getty A patient's skin is burned in a pattern corresponding to the dark portions of a kimono worn at the time of the explosion National Archives 5 October 1945: Victims of the atomic blast sit in a makeshift hospital in a damaged bank building in the centre of Hiroshima Keystone/Getty Images This colour photo of Hiroshima showing damage wrought by the atomic bomb was taken in March 1946, six months after the bomb was dropped Reuters April 12, 1946: Crew members of the Enola Gay proudly parade through New York on a Jeep in the first Army Day Parade since the end of the war Getty
Three days after the
Hiroshima bombing, a larger atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The 4,500kg bomb, nicknamed Fat Man, was dropped from a plane called Bockscar. Estimates of the number of deaths vary from 39,000 to 80,000 people. Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945, bringing the Second World War to an end. 29 March 1946: Bockscar, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Nakasaki, is seen in Roswell AFP Fat Boy, the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945 US National Archives A mushroom cloud billows over Nagasaki after the atomic bomb was dropped on the city on 9 August 1945 Reuters The radioactive plume from the bomb dropped on Nagasaki is seen from 9.6km away, in Koyagi-jima Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum/Getty Images The remnants of a Shinto shrine in Nagasaki Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum 24 September 1945: Battered religious figures lie in the rubble of a destroyed temple on a hill above Nagasaki US National Archives Devastation is seen in the city of Nagasaki after the atomic bomb was dropped US National Archives Victims who were thrown clear of a tram are seen in a ditch near the the tracks, in Nagasaki Reuters