Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

US Planned To Drop An Atomic Bomb On Europe During WWII
The Memory Hole ^ | August 10, 2002

Posted on 08/10/2002 3:43:33 PM PDT by Reaganwuzthebest

US Planned to Drop an Atomic Bomb
on Europe During WWII

In early August 2002 Studs Terkel interviewed Paul Tibbets, the pilot who flew the Enola Gay on its mission to nuke Hiroshima. In the middle of this fascinating interview, General Tibbets dropped a bombshell of a different sort. Tibbets relates that after being briefed about his upcoming mission by General Uzal Ent (commander of the second air force) and others:

General Ent looked at me and said, "The other day, General Arnold [commander general of the army air corps] offered me three names." Both of the others were full colonels; I was lieutenant-colonel. He said that when General Arnold asked which of them could do this atomic weapons deal, he replied without hesitation, "Paul Tibbets is the man to do it." I said, "Well, thank you, sir." Then he laid out what was going on and it was up to me now to put together an organisation and train them to drop atomic weapons on both Europe and the Pacific--Tokyo.

Studs Turkel: Interesting that they would have dropped it on Europe as well. We didn't know that.

Paul Tibbets: My edict was as clear as could be. Drop simultaneously in Europe and the Pacific because of the secrecy problem--you couldn't drop it in one part of the world without dropping it in the other.

This is the last thing Tibbets says about nuking Europe, and Turkel never follows up! Thus, we don't know which city was to be targeted (presumably it was a German one) or why the plan wasn't carried out. The Memory Hole has written to Tibbets, asking these logical follow-up questions. Assuming he responds, we'll let you know what he says.

Later in the interview, Tibbets reveals another important piece of hidden history--that the US was just about to drop a third atomic bomb on Japan when it surrendered:

Studs Terkel: Why did they drop the second one, the Bockscar [bomb] on Nagasaki?

Paul Tibbets: Unknown to anybody else--I knew it, but nobody else knew--there was a third one. See, the first bomb went off and they didn't hear anything out of the Japanese for two or three days. The second bomb was dropped and again they were silent for another couple of days. Then I got a phone call from General Curtis LeMay [chief of staff of the strategic air forces in the Pacific]. He said, "You got another one of those damn things?" I said, "Yessir." He said, "Where is it?" I said, "Over in Utah." He said, "Get it out here. You and your crew are going to fly it." I said, "Yessir." I sent word back and the crew loaded it on an airplane and we headed back to bring it right on out to Trinian and when they got it to California debarkation point, the war was over.

Studs Terkel: What did General LeMay have in mind with the third one?

Paul Tibbets: Nobody knows.

Source: "'One Hell of a Big Bang'" by Studs Terkel. Guardian (London), 6 Aug 2002.

TOPICS: Extended News; Government
KEYWORDS: historylist
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-20 ... 41-6061-8081-100101-109 next last
To: gitmo
61 posted on 08/10/2002 8:02:50 PM PDT by Atchafalaya
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: IncPen
Who were the physicists who didn't want the bomb used on Japan?

Robert Oppenheimer was said to have remarked, on witnessing the first atomic explosion, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds"(quoting the Bhagavad Gita).

I remember quote from "the Hunt For Red October." But to your memory was there anyone who said "Germany yes, Japan no."

I have the Feynman book here somewhere. Very entertaining. I don't remember anything about reserving the bomb for Germany only though.

62 posted on 08/10/2002 8:35:52 PM PDT by DentsRun
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 53 | View Replies]

To: gitmo
"It's probably too late now, right?"

Man, you crack me up!

63 posted on 08/10/2002 8:48:41 PM PDT by PatrioticAmerican
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: DentsRun
But to your memory was there anyone who said "Germany yes, Japan no."

Not that I've ever heard of. Back then there were a few people around who didn't trifle with niceties when their enemies were trying to exterminate them

64 posted on 08/10/2002 8:51:12 PM PDT by IncPen
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 62 | View Replies]

To: DugwayDuke
I believe the Japanese also had fighters active at the end. They just didn't think a single aircraft, they thought it a reconaisance plane, worth engaging.

They had few left which is why the B-29s used in the firebombing raids stripped most of their armour and all their machine guns in order to carry more bombs. The Germans on the other hand had Me-262 jet fighters. Because of the short range of the early jets, the British Meteors could not have been available to escort our B-29s, while the Germans flying to protect their cities against an atomic attack could have engaged US bombers before they could reach their targets. Once airborne the Me-262 had about a 100 mph advantage over the P-51 Mustang. Considering that the Germans had tried to develop their own atomic bomb, I don't think they would have considered one or two B-29s flying towards one of their cities as non-threatening, especially since the B-29 had been exclusively used in the Pacific.

65 posted on 08/10/2002 9:36:19 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 52 | View Replies]

possessing a 3rd Hell on Earth and of our will to use it for Victory in War

There were more on the way. Estimates vary, but production was being ramped up and would have reached one a week that fall. They would have been used in groups of three to establish beachheads on Japan proper.

66 posted on 08/10/2002 9:42:29 PM PDT by RightWhale
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Reaganwuzthebest
"I am mainly interested in debunking the liberals who forever say the bomb was dropped on Japan for racist reasons, as if we couldn't do what we had to to win."

At least your heart was in the right place! I was watching a some show discussing various ways in which the US was planning an invasion of Japan proper. It was not pretty. Massive US losses even with clearing the landing area with nerve gas and killing hundreds of thousands of civilians in the process. We had been staging nerve gas in the Pacific theater for just such a need. I'm thinking they did just the right thing.

"It would have been dropped in Europe as well if we had it at the time."


""Compassion" comes after the war, if ever considering the foe we're up against."

This seems to be a common philosophy with great statesmen. Churchill, Lincoln. Look at our treatment of Japan after we defeated them. Just compare countries that the Soviet's defeated versus those we defeated. I think that fact alone would discredit anyone who says the US had racist feelings against the Japanese.
67 posted on 08/10/2002 10:07:09 PM PDT by TheDon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 57 | View Replies]

To: DentsRun
The Chicago group, headed by Fermi, wanted a 'demonstration' before use. Szilard was convinced that even a test would introduce an arms race by proving to the Soviets that the weapon was possible.

Of course, the Soviets were by the time of the test, and well aware that detonation of the device was possible, thanks in part to the treason of Klaus Fuchs.
68 posted on 08/10/2002 10:24:28 PM PDT by Petronski
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies]

To: Reaganwuzthebest
I sent word back and the crew loaded it on an airplane and we headed back to bring it right on out to Trinian and when they got it to California debarkation point, the war was over.

Terkel's kidding, right? WTF is 'Trinian?' There's Tinian, from which bombers would be launched in anger, and the 'Trinity' site, where the first device was detonated.

There is NO 'Trinian.' LOL

69 posted on 08/10/2002 10:31:16 PM PDT by Petronski
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: lavaroise
There's no way the public would have supported continuing the war in Europe against a country which only a few weeks before had been considered an ally. There would have been a revolt. There was a great deal of opposition to even transferring troops from the European theatre to the ongoing war in Asia. The sentiment was that they had already done their part, now bring them home.
70 posted on 08/10/2002 10:39:38 PM PDT by kms61
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Reaganwuzthebest
One of Ambrose's books makes the point that had the United States targetted Germany's electrical grid rather than going after the factories themselves, we could have crippled German industry in short order. The strategic bombing campaign paid big dividends in forcing the Luftwaffe back to defend the German heartland, but it was much less successful in its stated goal of destroying German industrial production.
71 posted on 08/10/2002 10:42:36 PM PDT by kms61
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: ao98
The origianal plan was to target Berlin. Of course, Germany surrendered before the bomb was available. Yes, a large number of physicist working on the project were opposed to its use on Japan. Their argument was that Germany had the capability to produce atomic weapons but Japan didn't therefore it was legitimate to use it on Germany not Japan(their argument not mine). Oppenheimer was the one who presented their petition to the government and argued against it--he argued for dropping the bomb. There was no other bomb; the material had been already used up for the three they originally built. The issue of the progress the Germans made on developing the bomb is one which is rather complicated but rather enlightening when one looks at it from the perspective of the history of technology. Adolf Hitler had nothing to do with their lack of progress on the bomb. A good comparison would be to compare how the V2 program (Germany's ballistic missile program) was managed and how the Manhatten project was managed as versus how the German bomb program was managed. In both the V2 program and the Manhatten project the job was approached from an engineering perspective, even though Oppenheimer was a physicist. The German A-bomb program was headed by Heisenberg and his approach was that of a physicist. A few examples should suffice. When the V2 program found it had a turbo pump that couldn't withstand the stresses they spend a year and a half doing metallurgical research until the found a way to produce a turbo pump that would work. When the Manhatten project was faced with the problem of what type of bomb to build a uranium one or a plutonium one they decided why not try for both. In order to get a suitable reactor for producing the plutonium they settled on a graphite reactor. Now the German atomic bomb project was different. First they decided you couldn't really extract the suitable uranium isotope from naturally occurring uranium withot great difficulty so forget about it. Plutonium was the choice because once you created in a reactor you could use chemical methods to extract it. So, what kind of reactor do you build. The material characteristics of graphite at that time made it unsuitable in the building of a reactor, so the Germans settle on a heavy water moderated reactor. Unbeknownst to them, but not to other German material scientist, advances had been made in material science so a graphite reactor was practical. A heavy water moderator reactor is incredibly inefficient for making plutonium as versus a graphite reactor and secondly the material properties of plutonium made it difficult to achieve critical mass by implosion. That's why the Manhatten project used it for testing and of course they only had enough uranium to build one bomb at the time. Heisenberg concluded that given all these theoretical problems no one could build a nuclear device therefore why continue pursuing it. Though I only mention one example from the V2 program the "lesson learned" is still the same. When the Manhatten project and the V2 program ran into technical difficulties they found ways to work through or around the problems. The German atomic bomb program did none of that and the result was a failure.
72 posted on 08/10/2002 10:44:28 PM PDT by Coeur de Lion
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 51 | View Replies]

To: Jemian
Hah hah hah!!!!
73 posted on 08/10/2002 10:45:46 PM PDT by Nachum
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: alloysteel
What may have been true was simply the goal to make the bomb (from 1943 on), and that the targets from the 1943 list might have included Germany. If D-Day had gone badly and thousands of Americans captured, then the entire war in 1944 would have stalled. No further attempt to move into Europe would have taken place until at least the summer of 1945, and we would have likely looked upon a entrance into Spain and fight northward. A failed D-day would have been a major reason to drop a nuke upon Germany, although Berlin would have likely been the last target to use. One would guess that a major airfield would have been the choice in a unpopulated region of the country.
74 posted on 08/10/2002 10:51:15 PM PDT by pepsionice
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Chi-townChief
Studs certainly didn't get the answer he wanted there and
backed off real fast! Terkel is one of the bigger phonies that you'll
come across.

Hey, let's not forget the Casey interview :)

75 posted on 08/10/2002 11:08:00 PM PDT by itsahoot
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: pepsionice
If D-Day had gone badly the Soviets might have broken in the summer of 45'. It was beginning to get tough to keep up the enormous numbers of men as cannon fodder and they were starting to feel the pinch at the time of the drive on Berlin in April 1945. As it was they came close to getting stopped at Seelow Heights.

That situation would have been vastly different without Allied armies swarming over western Europe.

The speculative question of the day though would be whether or not the Allies would have risked flying an atomic weapon over an occupied Europe swarming with jet aircraft and operational wire guided anti aircraft missiles in 1945\46...
76 posted on 08/10/2002 11:51:41 PM PDT by Axenolith
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 74 | View Replies]

To: Axenolith
"The speculative question of the day though would be whether or not the Allies would have risked flying an atomic weapon over an occupied Europe swarming with jet aircraft and operational wire guided anti aircraft missiles in 1945\46..."

Oh please.

The Germans had lost the war long before 1944, much less 1945.

By D-Day (June 6, 1944), the Germans could only muster 180 fighter aircraft and 198 bombers against the entire allied invasion (which was covered by over 5,000 U.S. and British fighters and bombers).

This mismatch in the skies permitted the 6 invading allied army divisions to smash through the more than 40 German Army Wehrmacht divisions that were deployed to repel any invasion against the Constinent.

The first launch of the German V-1 cruise missile was made that month in response to the D-Day invasion (because the Germans had no other way to reach London by that point).

The first American test flight of the JB-2 "Loon" cruise missile was made in October of that same year (though this secret project was kept in the dark so as not to have to share the technology with the Soviets - and later reported as not having taken place until 1946).

Regardless, the German industry was incapable of producing enough fighters to counter the routine 1,000 bomber allied raids over Germany. Had German industry been up to that task (an impossibility - worse, they didn't have fuel for the few fighters that they did manage to cobble together), then the first nuke would have been placed on a minisub and towed into a Nazi harbor.

By late August of 1945, the U.S. was producing 7 atomic bombs per month.

Had the Germans held out any longer than they did, most of central Europe would still be radioactive to this very day.

The war was never in question. The combined might of Germany and Japan could not match even half of the economic might and industrial output of the U.S.

That's death for any war of attrition.

40 defending army divisions getting whipped by 6 (yes, just six) invading army divisions at Normandy pretty well spells out the fighting ability of the two sides, too.

The Russians lost millions of men, the Germans lost millions of men, and the Japanese lost millions of men. On the other hand, the U.S. lost only 385,000. That's a heck of a statistic when you consider that it was the U.S. that got hit by the major surprise attack.

By 1945, the U.S. was producing half of the entire planet's gross domestic product (GDP).

No enemy of America had an effective way to inflict serious damage on America's homeland, either.

WW2 wasn't a war so much as it was national suicide on the part of Germany and Japan (though it turned out pretty well for them when you consider how well we re-wrote their governments for them and how much aid we sent to them after they surrendered).

But the war's outcome would not have been changed if the Soviets had been forced to sue for peace. That trick didn't even work for the Germans in the FIRST world war when the sides were more closely matched, and it certainly wouldn't have worked in 1945.

Neither the Germans nor the Japanese had the edge in technology that counted such as computers, mass production, atomic weapons, or cryptography.

Henry Ford alone was manufacturing a heavy bomber EVERY MINUTE from a single one of his factories.

What idiots would go up against that level of industrial and technological might (besides idiots that don't realize how badly they'll be beaten)?!

77 posted on 08/11/2002 12:33:04 AM PDT by Southack
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 76 | View Replies]

To: x1stcav
If you would have read the full article when it was posted, you wouldn't make that comment. The operative word was "planned" and plans are made before hand, like when the bomb was being developed and since the "Krauts" as you so cleverly called them, glad to see you are watching the old war movies, surrendered before the bombs were ready, that part of the plan wasn't executed.

I know it is hard to believe, but the military typically doesn't develop a weapon or tactic and then say, "Golly gee what are we going to do with it?" Since the time to develop a weapon or weapon system takes so long, often the reason it was being developed goes away before the weapon system is ready, like the Crusader artillery system.

Remember, the B-36 Peacemaker bomber never dropped a bomb in anger...because it was there.

78 posted on 08/11/2002 3:54:54 AM PDT by Redleg Duke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

You got that Ronnie! There is no award for second place in war.
79 posted on 08/11/2002 3:56:30 AM PDT by Redleg Duke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: gitmogrunt
If by they you mean the liberals, well yes. After all, just cause you were there and experienced it, doesn't mean you understand the dielectic! You need a true "Progressive" mind to properly interpret and define it!

Remember, World War II started when the US did a sneak attack on the Germans at Pearl Harbor, where the Japanese were holding a trade fair for Baby Milk Factories!

80 posted on 08/11/2002 3:59:57 AM PDT by Redleg Duke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-20 ... 41-6061-8081-100101-109 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson