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6th Bomb Group Mission: Tinian

North Field on Tinian Island in the Marianas – launching point for the atomic bomb drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. ©Bill Webster. All Rights Reserved.


In July 1944, U.S. forces overran Tinian’s Japanese garrison following landings on nearby Saipan, and immediately began building up its tiny airfield into what was to become the largest U.S. air base during World War II. It was from this island that the only two nuclear bombs used in war were launched aboard the B-29s Enola Gay and Bockscar.

With its proximity to Japan and infrastructure in place, Tinian was chosen as the base of operations for an atomic attack against Japan in February of 1945. Preparations for the assembly of atomic bombs and the readying of the 509th Composite Group began on April 3. Some of the original photos below by Webster show the atomic bomb pits that were used to load the atomic bombs on the B-29s of the 509th Composite Group (the “Atom Bombers”).

  • The 6th Bomb Group B-29s were flying missions to secondary cities and mining harbors. Operation Starvationthe plan to deny re-supply of Japan – was in Phase 5.
  • Two 6th Bomb Group B-29s were lost on mining missions. On July 9th, Capt. Robert Schmid and crew were shot down in the Shimonoseki Straits. Colonel Dixon, 40th Bomb Squad Commander was an observer. All were lost except CFC Sgt. Jack Roy, who was picked up in his life raft and taken to Fukuoka Prison.
  • On August 15th, the day of cessation of hostilities and after the announcement of surrender by Hirohito, Jack Roy was among seventeen airmen taken to Aburayama and executed by beheading.
  • On July 11th, the longest combat mission of WWII was flown to the port of Rashin (now called Rason) about 20 miles south of Vladivostok, Russia and mined by the 6BG crews of: Ed Vincent (“Flak Alley Sally”), Wayne Maki (“Big Joe”), John Bierkan (“Connecticut Yankee II”), and Barney Olive (“Speagle Eagle”). Ed Vincent and crew flew the mission non-stop. Other mining missions were flown to the Korean port of Fusan (now called Busan). GO TO VIDEO PAGE TO LEARN ABOUT THE LONGEST BOMBING MISSION OF WWII
  • On 19 July, Capt. Gordon Jordon (“Sharon Linn”) and crew were shot down on a mining mission over Niigata. Details of this crew’s fate can be found (and purchased on Amazon) in Gregory Hadley’s book, Field of Spears: The Last Mission of the Jordan Crew. This remarkable book asks the question, what happens to ordinary people in times of war? Hadley explores this question as he documents the true story of a B-29 crew that was shot down over a rural Japanese village on July 20, 1945.





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