Almost 60 years to the day after the nuclear age was unleashed with an attack on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, the US aircraft that dropped the first atomic bomb, the Enola Gay, is still on display at a special museum outside Washington DC.
In the US, the nuclear attacks were credited with forcing Tokyo to surrender in the second World War, avoiding an invasion of Japan and heavy American loss of life.
Herbert Ing is a retired Marine Colonel who witnessed Japanese kamikaze attacks first hand. Visiting the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Centre, he described how he felt about the Enola Gay. “I think it is beautiful, it delivered the very thing that saved so many Americaan lives and concluded the war that went on for numerous years,” he said.
On both sides of the Pacific, younger people tended to be more questioning about the necessity of the nuclear strike, according to a recent opinion poll.A Japanese visitor to the museum said: “I know the plane flew the bomb but it doesn’t mean anything to me compared to going to Hiroshima or Nagasaki and seeing the pictures of the destruction there.”
An estimated 140,000 Japanese were killed in the raid on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and a further 80,000 died in a second attack on Nagasaki three days later. Thousands more died in later years from the effects of radiation.