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[World War II] - Van Kirk, Captain Theodore "Dutch"
[ENOLA GAY NAVIGATION LOG], NAVIGATOR'S LOG, WAR DEPARTMENT AAF FORM NO. 21A, TINIAN ISLAND TO HIROSHIMA, JAPAN, AND BACK, 0245AM TO 1458PM IN LOCAL TINIAN TIME, AUGUST 6, 1945
Estimate
300,000500,000
LOT SOLD. 372,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
46
[World War II] - Van Kirk, Captain Theodore "Dutch"
[ENOLA GAY NAVIGATION LOG], NAVIGATOR'S LOG, WAR DEPARTMENT AAF FORM NO. 21A, TINIAN ISLAND TO HIROSHIMA, JAPAN, AND BACK, 0245AM TO 1458PM IN LOCAL TINIAN TIME, AUGUST 6, 1945
Estimate
300,000500,000
LOT SOLD. 372,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Books & Manuscripts Including Americana

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[World War II] - Van Kirk, Captain Theodore "Dutch"
[ENOLA GAY NAVIGATION LOG], NAVIGATOR'S LOG, WAR DEPARTMENT AAF FORM NO. 21A, TINIAN ISLAND TO HIROSHIMA, JAPAN, AND BACK, 0245AM TO 1458PM IN LOCAL TINIAN TIME, AUGUST 6, 1945
Two folding sheets, meant to be folded into quarters, (255 x 658 mm and 660 x 512 mm, bottom half of first sheet, presumably blank, has been removed), printed on top half of rectos with a table to record data including the name & type of plane, place of departure & destination, tables to record the mission orders, flight plan, information on the flight crew, winds and weather conditions,  fuel consumption, celestial data, and memoranda, as well as a radio bearing worksheet, temperature and pressure conversion scales, and diagrams to help calculate interception and radius of action; printed on bottom half of recto and versos with fields to record detailed flight information, including the point, time, position, true course, ground speed, temperature, and other remarks. Both sheets filled out on verso in pencil, and dated Aug 6 - 1945, at point AP0247 Tinian, at time 0245. Penciled notes kept in Tinian local time, one hour ahead of Hiroshima time, with the bomber’s position noted by latitude and longitude in the first column, and distance and speed noted in knots. Creases where previously folded, minor tears at head and foot of central folds, 9 lines of log filled out on recto of larger sheet with information from the Practice Bomb drop session done on April 12, 1946 in Roswell, New Mexico.
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Provenance

Captain Theodore Van Kirk (Heritage October 2007 lot 30572)

Literature

Tibbets, Paul W. Return of the Enola Gay. New Hope, Pennsylvania: Enola Gay Remembered Inc, 1998.

Catalogue Note

An exceptionally important record from the dawn of the atomic age - the manuscript navigation log kept by Captain Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk on the Enola Gay, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber that dropped the 9,000-pound bomb code-named “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima, the first atomic bomb to be used in war. 

The log charts the steady progress of the Enola Gay (named for the pilot Colonel Paul Tibbets’ mother, Enola Gay Tibbets) noting positions and other details every 10 minutes or so, from its take-off from the base on Tinian Island at 2:45 am (Tinian local time), to its return to base at 2:58 pm that same day, recording the fateful moment at 15 seconds past 08:15am when it dropped "Little Boy” on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, resulting in the death of 71,000, and injuring another 68,000. Detonated only 43 seconds after having been dropped at 1,890 feet, it effectively destroyed the city. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki – the Enola Gay serving once again, this time as the weather reconnaissance aircraft. A week later, Japan surrendered, and World War II came to an end. 

The log begins at 0245 at Tinian, and notes "N Tip Siapan" (sic) as the first position in the log, at 0255½. At 0435, one hour and forty minutes later, Van Kirk notes that the compass was reset, and at 0515, notes that he altered the true course slightly from 335° to 334°. After flying over Iwo [Jima] at 0555, he notes the bomber as “circling left” before passing over Iwo [Jima] again at 0602½ following a second resetting of the compass, and then a third reset at 0740. At 0830, Van Kirk notes that the IFF system (Identification, Friend or Foe) was shut off, and as they approached the target at 0912, he notes “Large T ships in Harber (sic) at Mishima”. At 0915½ (30 seconds past 8:15am Hiroshima local time) in the position field Van Kirk notes the action that would end the war and change the world forever, “Bomb Away”, further writing in the remarks field “Circle E of Target.” By 0931 they were flying over Mishima, and just past 29° 43’ E 137° 03’ E, a little over an hour and a half later, Van Kirk notes “10:52 – Cloud Gone”. By 1219 they were flying back over Iwo Jima, and at 1458, they arrived safely back at base on Tinian Island, 12 hours and 13 minutes later.

Decades after the historical flight took place, Captain Van Kirk recalled that "Our takeoff time was 2:45 A.M... The purpose of the log, was to record flight data used by the navigator to keep the airplane on course and on time, and, also, to allow the navigator to determine aircraft location in a short time in the event of problems with the plane or bomb... the line of small uninhabited volcanic islands between Tinian and Iwo Jima permitted good course control via radar. During darkness, until about 4:45 A.M., celestial sightings on the star Polaris gave latitude readings and therefore good speed lines on the course we were flying. During daylight, between Iwo Jima and Japan, good weather permitted accurate drift readings and from them accurate wind calculations. Also, visibility was outstanding allowing visual sightings of the Japanese coast line about 75 miles away at our high altitude" (In an audio interview recorded ca. 2007).

In 1945, the 509th Composite group, which was formed by the US Air Force and trained in secret, deployed to Tinian with 15 B-29 bombers, along with the Enola Gay and 1700 men including ground and flight crews. Amongst them was  the 12-man crew of the Enola Gay; the navigator, Captain Theodore Van Kirk; Colonel Paul W. Tibbets Jr., aircraft commander and pilot; Captain Robert A. Lewis, co-pilot; Major Thomas Ferebee, bombardier; Captain William S, Parsons, weaponeer and mission commander; 1st  Lieutenant Jacob Beser, radar countermeasures; Sergeant Joe S. Stiborik,  radar operator; 2nd Lieutenant Morris R. Jeppson, assistant weaponeer; Sergeant Robert H. Shumard, assistant flight engineer; Private 1st Class Richard H. Nelson, VHF radion operator; and Technical Sergeant George R. “Bob” Caron, tail gunner.  Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk was the last surviving member of the crew, and died in 2014 at the age of 93.

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