ROME, Ga. — My True Course, Northumberland to Hiroshima is the new book which is part autobiography and part chronology of the World War II years for Major “Dutch” Van Kirk and the thousands involved in the war effort.
In August 1945, Van Kirk served as navigator aboard the B-29 plane, the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb for use as a weapon upon Hiroshima, Japan.
Dutch’s 580-page hardcover book provided great subject material as this aerospace reporter and the retired major sat down near Rome, Georgia to discuss his historic mission.
In My True Course, Van Kirk discusses in detail the hidden secrets of World War II, including the steps toward producing the atomic bomb known as Little Boy.
“The USS Indianapolis arrived at the small island of Tinian located 1300 miles south of Japan with the bomb’s core uranium-235”, Dutch explained, “just 11 days prior to the bombing mission”.
The Enola Gay took-off on Runway A loaded with Little Boy on August 6, 1945, at 2:45 a.m. Tinian Island Time (TIT).
The aircraft soared over Iwo Jima at 5:55 a.m. TIT, according to Van Kirk’s entry into the flight log book.
Hours later and flying at an altitude of 30,700 feet over Hiroshima, a port town which is built on the Inland Sea, the bomb was dropped at 9:15:15 TIT. The entire crew were then told to put on their darkened goggles to help block out the extreme brightness of the atomic blast.
As Dutch describes in the book, Little Boy detonated just 800 feet from it’s target point, and 1,890 feet above the ground.
I asked him how they knew the bomb detonated as they soared away, “We could see the brightness in our goggles.”
Enola Gay had been on automatic pilot during the bombing run, and now she was on manual performing a wide banking turn then the throttles were all opened wide. The Enola Gay, and another B-29 on a scientific mission to record the bombing, soared faster to out fly the shock waves.
Dutch stated that a second shock wave later hit the Enola Gay eighteen miles south of Hiroshima.
The cloud from the atomic blast took nearly 100 minutes to clear, he also noted.
Now 91 years of age, Dutch in 2010 became the sole surviving crew member of that famous flight by the Enola Gay.
(Charles Atkeison reports on science & technology. Follow his updates via Twitter @AbsolutSpaceGuy.)