1. Background
Bombing "Firebombing" of Tokyo 1945:
March 10, 1945: U.S. warplanes dropped half a million M-69 incendiary cylinders on Tokyo, Japan destroying nearly 16 quare miles of the city. "The most devastating air raid in history."
  • The U.S. wanted to demonstrate the technology that had been developed and show that it would be used as a weapon to end the war.
    • Killed or injured as many as 200,000 people and left more than one million people homeless
  • Account from survivor:
    • "Those images in my mind ... can never be erased," she said. "I can see myself there, the flames all around me. And I'm running for my life."


The Facts:
Originally, four cities were chosen as possible targets:Hiroshima, Kokura, Nagasaki, and Niigata because they were relatively untouched by war.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki
August 6, 1945: The U.S. dropped a massive atomic bomb against Hiroshima Japan
-The bomb exploded 1,900 feet above the city and only missed the target, the Aioi Bridge, by approximately 800ft.
  • Effects:
    • Two-thirds of Hiroshima was destroyed. Within three miles of the explosion, 60,000 of the 90,000 buildings were demolished. Clay roof tiles had melted together. Shadows had imprinted on buildings and other hard surfaces. Metal and stone had melted.
  • Population before bomb: 350,000
  • 70,000 died in explosion, 70,000 died from radiation within the next five years
Account from a survivor of the bombing on Hiroshima:
    • The appearance of people was . . . well, they all had skin blackened by burns. . . . They had no hair because their hair was burned, and at a glance you couldn't tell whether you were looking at them from in front or in back. . . . They held their arms bent [forward] like this . . . and their skin - not only on their hands, but on their faces and bodies too - hung down. . . . If there had been only one or two such people . . . perhaps I would not have had such a strong impression. But wherever I walked I met these people. . . . Many of them died along the road - I can still picture them in my mind -- like walking ghost."
August 9, 1945: The. U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.
  • Effects:
    • Approximately 40 percent of Nagasaki was destroyed.
    • Although this atomic bomb was considered much stronger than the one exploded over Hiroshima, the terrain of Nagasaki prevented the bomb from doing as much damage.
    • Population before bomb: 270,000
    • 70,000 died in explosion
  • Account from a survior:
    • "I saw the atom bomb. I was four then. I remember the cicadas chirping. The atom bomb was the last thing that happened in the war and no more bad things have happened since then, but I don't have my Mummy any more. So even if it isn't bad any more, I'm not happy."
      --- Kayano Nagai

external image 300px-Atomic_bombing_of_Japan.jpgexternal image Nagasaki.jpg
2. Continuities:
  • Both were demonstrations of power
    • Even before the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombing, American air force General Curtis LeMay boasted that American bombers were "driving them [Japanese] back to the stone age."
    • The Target committee of the U.S. wanted the first bomb to be "sufficiently spectacular for the importance of the weapon to be internationally recognized when publicity on it was released."
  • Cause: Critics in Japan believe these attacks were war crimes, but others say the Tokyo assault took place against the increasing brutality of total war fueled by the militarism of the Axis powers.

3. Changes:
  • Technology:
    • The technology leap between the world wars was incredible for the relatively short amount of time involved
      • technology improved in naval ships, submarines, tanks, aircraft carriers and most of all the atomic bomb
    • Firebombs were containers filled with kerosene and oil and wrapped with tar-covered rope. They were used to hit a specific target.
    • 1939, Einstein informed President Roosevelt of efforts in Germany to purify Uranium-235 to build an atomic bomb
    • Finding "enriched" uranium was a difficult task in making atomic bombs-->Manhattan project
    • The American decision to go after civilians emerged from the failure of precision bombings against traditional military targets, and followed advances in technology and bombing tactics.
      • The B-29, for instance, gave the United States greater range and firepower, while innovations such as low-altitude nighttime attacks multiplied the potential for terror and destruction
  • Due to changes in technology, casualties from the atomic bomb outweighed casualties from the firebombing of Tokyo.
    • More civilian died in the fire-bombing of Tokyo than both the atomic bombs combined
  • The fire bombings on Tokyo were a retaliation to the attacks on Pearl Harbor from Japan and to show that the U.S was capable of reaching them at all times. However, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were meant to stimulate the Japanese surrender to WW2 to avoid more extensive casualties.
  • The bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had more lasting effects on the people whereas the firebombing on Tokyo had more immediate effects
4. Conclusion
  • The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values but rather by its superiority in technology and applying organized violence

Works Cited:

Coleman, Joseph. "1945 Tokyo Firebombing Left Legacy of Terror, Pain." . N.p., 2005. Web. 5 Apr 2012.

Hansell, Jr., Haywood S. (1986). "The Strategic Air War Against Germany and Japan: A Memoir". Project Warrior Studies. U.S. Office of Air Force History. Retrieved 12 December 2006.

"Hubpages." WW1 vs WW2. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Apr 2012. <http://keviin.hubpages.com/hub/WWI_vs_WWII>.

"Tokyo Fire-Bombing: Were Hiroshima-Nagasaki required?." Alternate Perspective. N.p., August 8, 2005. Web. 7 Apr 2012.