Sweeney, Charles W. & Tibbets, Paul W.

Uncommon photo jointly signed by the “Enola Gay” (Hiroshima) and “Bockscar” (Nagasaki) atomic bomb mission pilots

Price: $375.00

Description:
PAUL W. TIBBETS (1915-2007) Pilot of the “Enola Gay” which dropped 1st atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, Aug. 6, 1945. Led 340th Bomb Squadron, 97th Heavy Bomb Group, flying B-17 Flying Fortresses 1942. Piloted lead bomber on 1st Eighth Air Force bombing mission in Europe Aug. 1943, flew Mediterranean Theater combat missions, returned to US to test fly B-29 Superfortresses. Selected to command 509th Composite Group, in connection with Manhattan Project's Sept. 1944 “Project Alberta”. On Aug. 5, 1945, Col. Tibbets formally named B-29 #44-86292 “Enola Gay” after his mother. On Aug. 6, 1945, “Enola Gay” departed Tinian in the Marianas with Tibbets at the controls for Hiroshima. The atomic bomb, code named “Little Boy”, was dropped over Hiroshima at 8:15am local time. Brigadier General 1959, retired 1966. CHARLES W. SWEENEY (1919-2004) US Army Air Force officer, piloted B-29 “Bockscar” carrying the “Fat Man” atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan Aug. 9, 1945. Commissioned AAF 2d Lt. and awarded pilot wings Dec. 12, 1941, becoming a B-29 Superfortress instructor pilot. Sweeney became an instructor in the atomic missions training project when selected for the 509th Composite Group commanded by Col. Paul Tibbets. On May 4, 1945, Sweeney became commander of the 393rd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, combat element of the 509th, moving his unit to Tinian in the Marianas. In addition to supervising flight crew training during July 1945, Sweeney was slated to command the 2nd atomic bomb mission, prime target being Kokura, Japan and trained with the crew of Captain Don Albury’s B-29, “The Great Artiste”. On 6 August 1945, Sweeney and Albury flew “The Great Artiste” as instrumentation and observation support aircraft for the Hiroshima mission. On 9 August 1945, Sweeney commanded “Bockscar” from Tinian to Nagasaki. Poor bombing visibility and an increasingly critical fuel shortage after disobeying directions regarding rendezvous time forced Sweeney to divert from Kokura and attack the secondary target, Nagasaki, dropping “Fat Man” 1.6 miles NW of the planned aim point. The failure to drop “Fat Man” at the precise point caused only 60% of Nagasaki to be destroyed. The bombing extensively severed Mitsubishi arms production and killed some 35-40,000 people outright, including 23,200-28,200 industrial workers, 2,000 Korean slave laborers, and 150 soldiers. After returning to Tinian, Col. Tibbets was faced with considering “if any action should be taken against the airplane commander, Charles Sweeney, for failure to command.” After meeting on Guam with Tibbets and Sweeney, General Curtis LeMay, Strategic Air Forces chief of staff, said an investigation would serve no useful purpose. In Nov. 1945, Sweeney went with the 509th to New Mexico to train aircrews for the atomic testing mission, “Operation Crossroads”. He left active duty in 1946, remaining with the Mass. Air National Guard. In 1956, Col. Sweeney was named commander of its 102nd Air Defense Wing, promoted to Brigadier General, retiring in 1976 as Major General. Near the end of his life, Sweeney wrote a controversial memoir of the atomic bombing and the 509th Composite Group. Partly in response to Sweeney’s book, Tibbets issued a revised autobiography in 1998 in which he harshly criticized Sweeney’s actions during the mission. 10 x 8 b&w glossy SP showing a smiling Sweeney just after returning to Tinian following the Nagasaki mission, being warmly greeted by a smiling Tibbets, his commander. Their relationship would later totally sour. Rare signed photograph of the pilots of both WW II atomic bomb missions.

Condition: Very good
Type:Photograph






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