The B-29 Superfortress Enola gay was one of a couple of dozen human being War II-era plane specially modified because that the express purpose of transferring atomic weapons. NASM

Everything readjusted in one instant. One moment, it was a heat summer’s day with a couple of clouds in the sky. The next, a brilliant flash of irradiate blinded everyone and also altered the food of history.

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Seventy-five years ago, on respectable 6, 1945, the civilization entered the nuclear age with the detonation of the an initial atomic bomb in war over Hiroshima, Japan.

“There to be a 10,000-degree flash of intense light,” says historian Richard Rhodes, who received the Pulitzer compensation in 1986 for his book The do of the atomic Bomb. “It was choose a gigantic sunburn over the whole area. Climate there was a do the washing up of neutrons from the fireball the followed, and also that was the main killing mechanism.”

Thousands of Japanese died automatically following the detonation of tiny Boy, the nickname of that first atomic bomb. Some were vaporized through the early blast; others were charred beyond recognition by the tremendous heat. All told, at the very least 100,000 people died from the explosion and resulting firestorm that leveled a four-square-mile section of Hiroshima.

every told, at the very least 100,000 civilization died indigenous the explosion and also resulting firestorm that leveled a four-square-mile section of Hiroshima. Universal background Archive/Universal Images team via Getty images

“The primary cause of death in Hiroshima that day was fire,” states Rhodes. “The bomb ignited a enormous fire everywhere the city soon that resulted in a standard firestorm, wherein this chimney of heat is sucking in waiting from approximately the edges and increasing the strongness of the fire. It was not mostly radiation that killed and also burned the people of Hiroshima, prefer I think many civilization assume. It was the fire.”

A solitary airplane ceded the brand-new weapon of mass destruction—the Enola Gay. At the apex the aviation an innovation at the time, the aircraft was a B-29 Superfortress, one of a few dozen that were specially modified because that the express purpose of transporting atomic weapons.

It was unlike any type of other bomber—indeed, any propeller-driven aircraft—of human being War II. The silvery streamlined airplane was designed v a tubular fuselage, three pressurized cabins, tricycle landing gear, contemporary avionics and also an analog computer-controlled weapons system that allowed one gunner to direct fire from four remote machine-gun turrets.

With a propeller diameter of 16 feet, 7 inches, the aircraft’s 4 18-cylinder 2,200-horsepower bright R-3350 fuel-injected radial engines were an effective enough to bring 16,000 pounds that bombs while cruising in ~ 235 miles per hour in ~ an altitude that 30,000 feet. Design by Boeing, the strategic bomber was one of the biggest flown throughout the war, the bloodiest problem in human being history.

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On permanent display at the national Air and room Museum’s Udvar-Hazy center in Chantilly, Virginia, the Enola gay was donated come the Smithsonian school by the U.S. Air pressure in 1949 and also kept in storage until 1984, when restoration initiatives began. Components of the plane went on display screen in 1995 because that the 50th anniversary the the end of human being War II. Restoration occupational was completed and the full aircraft was displayed for the an initial time in 2003.