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The Hiroshima bomb didn’t jolt Japan as we had hoped. Its military leaders still refused the unconditional surrender demanded by the Potsdam Proclamation.
But it did shake the Russians. Stalin feared he had waited too long for his oft-promised invasion of Japan. If Japan surrendered before he got his troops into Manchuria, the Soviets would have no claim to Japanese spoils.
On Aug. 8, Russia declared war on Japan and at dawn on the 9th, tanks rolled into Manchuria.
The night before, Major Charles Sweeney and crew rolled “Bock’s Car” down the runway on Tinian and took off for Japan carrying “Fat Man.” Unlike the flight of “Enola Gay,” three nights earlier, this was not a textbook operation.
There were technical problems getting the device armed. Weather reports were threatening. A reserve fuel tank malfunctioned and couldn’t be used, even though the plane had to carry the dead weight of unusable fuel.
The camera plane, which was to rendezvous off Japan never arrived. They waited over two hours, using precious fuel. When they arrived at the prime target of Kokura, it had clouded over during the wait.