Skip to comments.Weaponeer on Nagasaki A-Bomb Dies at 94
Posted on 12/06/2005 12:59:00 PM PST by Borges
SANTA FE, N.M. - Frederick L. "Dick" Ashworth, the weaponeer aboard the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945, has died at 94.
He died Saturday while undergoing heart surgery in Phoenix, family friend Glen Smith said.
Ashworth, who retired in 1968 as a Navy vice admiral, was assigned to the Los Alamos-based Manhattan Project that built the A-bomb.
Three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, he was aboard the bomber that dropped a weapon nicknamed Little Boy on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. Ashworth was assigned as the weaponeer, responsible for arming the bomb during the flight. Estimates of the death toll in Nagasaki range from 60,000 to 80,000.
Ashworth, in an August talk to a Los Alamos historical group, said the mission was "fraught with problems," including clouds that hid the city of Kokura, which was the primary target, the potential for a crash landing with the bomb aboard and low fuel after the weapon exploded.
The weather over Kokura was so bad that B-29 named Bock's Car after its usual commander, Frederick Bock flew on to Nagasaki.
Ashworth said that during the return flight, the crew heard a radio report that the Japanese had approached the Swiss about surrender. "That gave us a pretty good inkling that maybe, by golly, the war might be over," he recalled.
Japan surrendered unconditionally on Aug. 15.
Ashworth was born in Beverly, Mass., and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1933. After the war, he did military liaison work with the Atomic Energy Commission and commanded the Navy's Sixth Fleet, then based in France.
He is survived by his wife, Ercie Bell Ashworth; three sons; three grandchildren; and one great-grandson.
Services are set for Thursday at Santa Fe National Cemetery.
Actually the assigned aiming point was missed by miles as Nagasaki was covered in clouds. Bock's Car had enough fuel for only one pass before heading for Okinawa. If they couldn't drop visually (as required by their orders) they were going to drop by radar. However, the bombardier found a hole in the clouds and released the weapon. It actually landed in the industrial area of the city which was in a valley. Because of this, the number of dead was much lower than at Hiroshima even though Little Boy had a yield of 12.5 Kilotons while Fat Man had a yield of ~21 Kilotons.
When was Bocks Car moved from Wright Patterson? I saw it there in the nuke display 3 years ago.
Interesting comment. The nuns who taught me something they called "history" when I was a kid always harped on that point as proof that the Protestant leaders in the US deliberately chose Hiroshima and Nagasaki as targets for the atomic bombs in order to wipe out Catholicism in Japan. I didn't buy it then either.
"I know a geologist in town who is in his eighties and was a B-17 pilot whose plane went down and was a POW in Germany."
Bock's Car is still at Wright Patterson.
"Bockscar is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio."
That's Wright Patterson.
I re-read your post and applied english grammar from Sister Ann Marie.
What about the Germans? Do you regret their loss too?
Would it be OK if Only Shintos were obliterated?
God bless this true hero who saved millions of Americans!
"Three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, he was aboard the bomber that dropped a weapon nicknamed Little Boy on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945"
Hey! Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki! Not Little Boy--that was Hiroshima! What idiots write this crap?? Funny this jerks don't have an email address to point out their stupidity! If ya can't get it right, then don't even do it!
Well, this cautionary tale should be told to all the school children: atomic power is bad. Due to the radiation he recieved from being so close to an atomic blast, his life was cut short.
Yep. And did a damned fine job of it!
My Dads ship had been hit and almost sunk twice by Kamakazie raids. He was back near Japan dreading the ivasion of the country. He had three brothers in the service that were Army and would have got to be in the invasion. I know they and their mates are thrilled about not having to go in. We are blessed that our Heavenly Father gave us the pride of our power to end this debackle. We have all but lost that pride today by not stomping islime like the satanic cockroach that it is.
Urban legend. By the way, 9 August 1945 was a Thursday, not a Sunday. To think that Charles Sweeney, the Roman Catholic pilot of Bocks Car, made three passes over the primary target, Kokura, instructed Beahan not to drop the bomb because of cloud cover, then flew to Nagasaki, placing himself, his crew and the airplane at additional extreme risk, and then had the bombardier pick out the Catholic Cathedral through the overcast just so the relatively few number of Catholics living in Nagasaki prefecture could be "obliterated" is absurd. Your tin-foil hat is too tight.
Incidentally, the name of the Catholic Cathedral in Nagasaki was and still is Urakami Cathedral.
May he see the face of God, and may God bless him and keep him forever. My prayers are with hs family, and he was a great patriot and warrior. We need more like him today.
Ashworth armed the bomb after takeoff.
Ohboy...here it comes...swine reporter.