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TINIAN ISLAND TODAY


This information & photos were forwarded to me by a CBI veteran. The original author is unknown.

Tinian Island is a small island, less than 40 square miles, a flat green dot in the vastness of Pacific blue.

Fly over it and you notice a slash across its north end of uninhabited bush, a long thin line that looks like an overgrown dirt runway. If you didn't know what it was, you wouldn't give it a second glance out your airplane window.

On the ground, you see the runway isn't dirt but tarmac and crushed limestone, abandoned with weeds sticking out of it. Yet this is arguably the most historical airstrip on earth. This is where World War II was won. This is Runway Able:


Aerial view east-southeast of the North Field area of Tinian Island. Runway Able is on the left and Runway Baker is on the right. From here in August 1945, the B-29 bombers Enola Gay and Bockscar launched their atomic attacks on Japan. The eastern aircraft parking pad is flanked by the former Japanese Air Operations Building to the east and air raid shelters to the west. The former Japanese Air Administration Building is rising above the jungle to the north of this pad.


Aerial view southeast of the North Field area. The heart-shaped pad is where personnel from the 509th Composite Group loaded atomic bombs into the B-29s. Bomb loading Pit #1 (for Little Boy) is the dot in the left lobe and Pit #2 (for Fat Man) is the dot in the right lobe.


Aerial view south of the North Field area.


Another aerial view south of the North Field area.


Aerial view northwest of the North Field area.


View west along Runway Able.


View east along Runway Baker.


Runway Able


View west of the atomic bomb loading pits, now filled in. The monument for Pit #1 is closest to the camera in the foreground. Pit #2 is marked by the monument located farthest from the camera.


View of atomic bomb loading Pit #1. The plaque on the monument reads "From this loading pit the first atomic bomb ever to be used in combat was loaded aboard a B-29 aircraft and dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, August 6, 1945. The bomber, piloted by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., USAAF, of the 509th Composite Group, Twentieth Air Force, United States Army Air Forces, was loaded late in the afternoon of August 5, 1945 and at 0245 the following morning took off on its mission. Captain William S. Parsons, USN, was aboard as weaponeer."


View of atomic bomb loading Pit #2. The plaque on the monument reads "From this loading pit the second atomic bomb ever to be used in combat was loaded aboard a B-29 aircraft and dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, August 9, 1945. The bomber was piloted by Major Charles W. Sweeny, USAAF, of the 509th Composite Group, Twentieth Air Force, United States Army Air Forces. On August 10, 1945 at 0300, the Japanese Emperor without his cabinetís consent decided to end the Pacific War."

On July 24, 1944, 30,000 US Marines landed on the beaches of Tinian. Eight days later, over 8,000 of the 8,800 Japanese soldiers on the island were dead (vs. 328 Marines), and four months later the Seabees had built the busiest airfield of WWII - dubbed North Field - enabling B-29 Superfortresses to launch air attacks on the Philippines, Okinawa, and mainland Japan.

Late in the afternoon of August 5, 1945, a B-29 was maneuvered over a bomb loading pit, then after lengthy preparations, taxied to the east end of North Field's main runway, Runway Able, and at 2:45am in the early morning darkness of August 6, took off.

The B-29 was piloted by Col. Paul Tibbets of the US Army Air Force, who had named the plane after his mother, Enola Gay. The crew named the bomb they were carrying Little Boy. 6 1/2 hours later at 8:15am Japan time, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

Three days later, in the pre-dawn hours of August 9, a B-29 named Bockscar (a pun on "boxcar" after its flight commander Capt. Fred Bock), piloted by Major Charles Sweeney took off from Runway Able. Finding its primary target of Kokura obscured by clouds, Sweeney proceeded to the secondary target of Nagasaki, over which, at 11:01am, bombardier Kermit Beahan released the atomic bomb dubbed Fat Man.

Here is "Atomic Bomb Pit #1" where Little Boy was loaded onto Enola Gay:

There are pictures displayed in the pit, now glass-enclosed.  This one shows Little Boy being hoisted into Enola Gay's bomb bay.

And here on the other side of ramp is "Atomic Bomb Pit #2" where Fat Man was loaded onto Bockscar.

The commemorative plaque records that 16 hours after the nuking of Nagasaki, "On August 10, 1945 at 0300, the Japanese Emperor without his cabinet's consent decided to end the Pacific War."

This is where World War II ended.