Hiroshima and Nagasaki
According to the Hiroshima Peace Site (2006), because the atomic bomb was dropped almost directly over the Hiroshima’s center and because Hiroshima was located in relatively flat terrain, massive and instantaneous damage resulted in the city’s almost complete destruction (90% of all buildings were destroyed). Figure 1 is an aerial view of the destroyed city of Hiroshima taken by United States Air Force Pilot of the Enola Gay, Paul Tibbets.
The degree of structural and environmental destruction correlated directly with distance from the hypocenter of the bomb. Figure 2 is a map of the degree of destruction radiating outward from the hypocenter (Hiroshima).
By contrast, Nagasaki had virtually no buildings located directly under the hypocenter of the bomb, but studies of resultant blast damage patterns have indicated that the bomb dropped on Nagasaki was much more effective than the one dropped on Hiroshima and the radius of damage was larger in Nagasaki than in Hiroshima (The Avalon Project). Figures 3 and 4 are aerial photographs of Nagasaki before and after the bomb was dropped. The level of destruction is unmistakable.
The structural damages incurred in both cities were the result of either the blast or pressure wave created from the blast, or fires. Primary fires resulted directly from the heat of the blast while secondary fires were initiated by the collapse of buildings containing equipment capable of producing fires (The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, 2006). A third type of fire occurred when primary and secondary fires spread to nearby areas or structures.
In the interactives portion of this section are two interactive diagrams of structural damage at Hiroshima and Nagasaki based on distance from the hypocenter. Embedded in the outlines are highlighted textual passages. Clicking on these passages will allow the user to view pertinent photos corresponding with the type of damage recorded at various distances from the hypocenters.