National Affairs: Five Fateful Hours

The eleven crewmen of the 6-29 Enola Gay stood silently in the early-morning darkness, eyes fixed on a solemn, balding Navy captain with a staggering burden: two cans filled with 137.3 Ibs. of uranium 235. At 0245 hours on Aug. 6, 1945, the Enola Gay lifted heavily from the long runway at Tinian. Within minutes. Captain William Sterling Parsons climbed into the stuffy bomb bay. Thus began five fateful hours in Liman history.

"Deke" Parsons special care during those five hours was a mechanical marvel nicknamed "Little Boy." A vaguely cylindrical device, it...