The scientific tourist #143 — the Enola Gay

This week’s image comes to you from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Centewr in Chantilly, Virginia — it’s the Enola Gay, the aircraft that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima:

Enola Gay

On August 6 1945, the B-29 “Enola Gay” (named after the pilot’s mother) became the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb as a weapon of war. It was one of 15 B-29 bombers which were modified to carry atomic weapons.

In 1995, only the Enola Gay’s cockpit and forward fuselage had been restored — they were to be displayed in the NASM on the Mall in Washington D.C. as part of an exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. But the exhibit’s concept was less-than-fully thought out, generated a huge amount of controversy, and eventually resulted in both the exhibit’s cancellation and the resignation of the NASM’s director. The fuselage was put on display, although a number of protesters attempted to vandalize it.

So now the entire, fully-restored aircraft is on display at Udvar-Hazy. Apparently it has very good security systems to avoid a repeat of the earlier incidents, too.

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