On August 6, 1945, three U.S. Air Force crews on three B-29 Superfortresses conducted the mission that dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The planes were named: Necessary Evil, Enola Gay (after the pilot’s mother), and The Great Artiste.

The bomb was dropped from the Enola Gay. The other two planes were used to photograph the explosion and measure the effects of the blast.

This photograph, recently seen for sale in New York, was taken aboard Necessary Evil that day and includes the ‘autographs’ of the three B-29 Aircraft Commanders.

Commentary: The conventional wisdom on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is that Japan would not surrender — making the atomic bombs necessary to break Japan and save American lives. The fact of the matter is the U.S. demand for ‘unconditional surrender’ lengthened the wars with both Germany and Japan. Even so Japan had signaled earlier in 1945 that it wanted to end the war. In his book, House of War (2006), James Carrol reports: “On July 17, as the Potsdam conference was getting underway, U.S. naval intelligence reports came to Truman and Stimson making explicit that Japan ‘officially if not publicly accepted its defeat, and its only remaining concerns were with reconciling national pride with defeat’.” In other words using the atomic bombs was unnecessary and evil.