Near Failure at Nagasaki
Near Failure at Nagasaki
Mission was planned for August 11th but was changed to the 9th due to bad weather Primary target was Kokura and Nagasaki was secondary
Bomb to be dropped was called Fat Man, a plutonium bomb more complex than the one dropped on Hiroshima 509th commander, Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr. choose Maj. Charles W. Sweeney, commander of the 393rd Bomb Squadron to command the mission Six B-29s was sent to the mission
Sweeney and Bock switched airplanes, with Sweeney flying Bockscar and Bock flying The Great Artiste Bockscar had problems with fuel; there was 7,250 gallons of fuel aboard and only 600 gallons in reserve tank The rendezvous point for the mission was Yakushima
The airplanes were supposed to meet at 30,000ft instead of 8,000 due to bad weather conditions. The B29, observation airplane, named Big Stink, piloted by opkinsHHopHopkins, was circling at 39,000ft instead 30,000 Sweeney was at the rendezvous point at Kokura for 45 min instead 15 min and made multiple bombing runs Hopkins broke radio silence, to avoid detection, and radioed back to base after not being able to rendezvous with Sweeney
The target was changed to Nagasaki due to complications at Kokura Beahan took the first clear sighting and confirmed the drop was possible The bomb was detonated at 1,890ft at 11:02am over Urakami Valley, which was not the original target in Nagasaki About 40,000 people were killed, compared to 80, 000 at Hiroshima Issues
1. Leadership And Discipline
2. Time Management
3. Respect And Cooperation
Leadership And Discipline
In order to run a successful mission the team must have a strong leader. Discipline and well-defined leadership can make or break a project, mission or business. In such endeavors there is the requirement that all members follow the plan as it was discussed and to not make any changes on their own which would negatively affect the success of the mission. There were various instances in this mission where lack of authority and deviation from the original plan caused delays in the execution of the plan. Furthermore when other team members assumed similar authority as the team commander there were problems executing basic parts of the plan as well as failure to adjust properly.
Tibbets should have settled Sweeney’s authority
Less discord/questioning among team members
May have taken more time to get mission together as there may have been objections
Choose someone more qualified with combat and leadership experience to better execute the plan Someone, such as Ashworth, with prior experience would have more authority, be able to build strong team and made less mistakes Tibbets would have needed to take at least one other member on the
As team leader, enforce authority
There would have been less discord and confusion as to what the commander wanted to do Some team members may not have liked the assertion of authority
Tibbets should have assigned a more qualified commander to the team. The most eligible candidate would have been Ashworth. By having Ashworth, who had combat experience, take control over the mission there would have been less discord and better cooperation among the members of the team. Hopkins would have had more respect for Ashworth based primarily on seniority. The mission would have had fewer problems in execution if there were only one point of reference and decision-making.
In case Ashworth would not have worked out, Tibbets could have also implemented severe repercussions for any individuals failing to follow the plan and obey orders.
Executing a plan, especially a time critical one, is essential for accomplishing that plan. No matter the mettle of the members, their accolades or accomplishments, failure to abide by the agreed upon plan and time limits can ultimately doom a well-planned mission to failure.
Positives Negatives Sweeney should have made the decision to inform the crew when he discovered the fuel problem The crew may have thought more highly of Sweeney’s ability to lead. This would have also given them more time aloft There may have been more time spent fueling this delaying the mission even more.
Sweeney should have left the original rendezvous point after 15 minutes The mission would have had more time to better plan for the drop on Nagasaki If everyone else decided to delay, Sweeney leaving early may not have made a difference Make sure that ALL team members understood and agreed to follow a specific plan, with minimal room for adjustments Hopkins and Ashworth would not have any room to second-guess Sweeney and would have been held responsible for deviations in the plan. The proper method of communication would have to be chosen here in order to get the plan to execute smoothly
The most important factor that could have improved the outcome of the mission was having Sweeney leave the rendezvous point on time. If Sweeney had left he would have had more time and fuel to accomplish the Nagasaki mission, possibly resulting in a drop on the exact target that was originally planned for Nagasaki.
In case Sweeney was not able to leave on time, then it should have been made clear that all directions in the mission should be followed as planned if the commander is unable to perform. In this case the mission should be abandoned if the strict time limits were not met. Additionally, they should not have armed the bomb until we were five minutes out from the drop location; thus giving the opportunity to abort and return with an unarmed bomb.
Respect And Cooperation
Ideally a commander or leader is assigned because of their proven ability to lead. They should not simply be appointed but should earn their qualifications. Tibbets chose Sweeney ahead of other, more worthy, candidates such as Ashworth and Hopkins. However we are sometimes placed in positions that we are not expecting yet we must be prepared to at least recognize the new opportunity.
Sweeney should have discussed the mission with the team in more detail and asked for the cooperation. Sweeney would have had less friction with his team members and would have had better clarity for making decisions Ashworth and Hopkins may not have agreed to work under Sweeney in either case
A higher ranked team leader should have been chosen
There would be less concern or hierarchy and an overall less problematic mission. Team members may have felt that they were not trusted to execute the mission Sweeney’s team should have consisted of all members below his rank There would have been less questioning of Sweeney’s decisions The members may not have been as experienced as the crew which actually went on the mission
Sweeney should have discussed the mission in more detail with the other members. He had various opportunities from the fueling concern to the early breakfast as well as his encounter with Hopkins before the flight. He should have exerted his command and asked for the overall team’s cooperation in making the mission succeeds. If there was any one there who would not want to cooperate, or couldn’t work as Sweeney’s junior then they should have been replaced.
If Sweeney would not have been able to rally his team members around him then a different commander should have been chosen. Sweeney showed many signs of not being confident in his command, or being too inclusive of other opinions. Someone who was more experienced and more capable of orchestrating the plan would have had less problems and a smoother mission.