Paul Tibbets, the commander of the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945, has died at the age of 92 after several months of failing health. Paul Warfield Tibbets Jr died at his home in Columbus, Ohio.. |Read More|
The five-ton "Little Boy" bomb was dropped on the morning of 6 August 1945, killing about 140,000 Japanese, with many dying later from injury and disease.
Gen Tibbets had asked for no funeral nor headstone as he feared opponents of the bombing may use it as a place of protest, the friend, Gerry Newhouse, said.
On the 60th anniversary of the bombing, the three surviving crew members of the Enola Gay said they had "no regrets".
On the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima, the surviving members of the Enola Gay crew - Gen Tibbets, Theodore J "Dutch" Van Kirk (the navigator) and Morris R Jeppson (weapon test officer) said: "The use of the atomic weapon was a necessary moment in history. We have no regrets".
Gen Tibbets said then: "Thousands of former soldiers and military family members have expressed a particularly touching and personal gratitude suggesting that they might not be alive today had it been necessary to resort to an invasion of the Japanese home islands to end the fighting."
In a 1975 interview he said: "I'm proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it and have it work as perfectly as it did... I sleep clearly every night."
In 1976, Gen Tibbets was criticised for re-enacting the bombing at an air show in Texas.
A mushroom cloud was set off as he over flew in a B-29 Superfortress in a stunt that outraged Japan. Gen Tibbets said it was not meant as an insult but the US government formally apologised.
In 1995, Gen Tibbets denounced as a "damn big insult" a planned 50th anniversary exhibition of the Enola Gay at the Smithsonian Institution that put the bombing in context of the suffering it caused.
He and veterans groups said too much attention was being paid to Japan's suffering and not enough to its military brutality.
Video source, www.bbc.co.uk