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Lesson Index: [ Introduction | Lesson Objective | Overview | Foundations of Doctrine | Air Corps Tactical School | WWII—Europe | WWII—Japan | WWII—Nuclear Weapons | Cold War Doctrine | Massive Retaliation | Cold War Technology | Flexible Response | The SIOP | Korea | Korean Command Structure | Korean War Aftermath | Prelude to Vietnam | Objectives in Vietnam | Vietnam War 1965–1973 | Rolling Thunder—Objectives | Rolling Thunder—Restrictions | Rolling Thunder—Outcome | Command Arrangements | Route Package System | Khe Sanh | Airpower at Khe Sanh | LINEBACKER II | Post-Vietnam Assessment | AirLand Battle | Impact of AirLand Battle | Operation EAGLE CLAW | Operation URGENT FURY | Goldwater-Nichols Act 1986 | Summary | Quiz ]

Title: WWII—Nuclear Weapons

Voice: The U.S. took unprecedented action to end the second world war. The dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki concluded the war against Japan. The air war over Japan was so devastating that the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey came to the following conclusion: “Based upon a thorough investigation, it is believed that Japan would have surrendered prior to 31 December 1945. In all probability it would have surrendered prior to 1 November 1945, even if the atomic bomb had not been dropped.” Thus, strategic airpower’s ascension to prominence was enhanced in the closing months of World War Two. With the advent of nuclear warfare, strategic air proponents firmly believed that airpower was now decisive in its own right. To many military strategists, nuclear warfare became an “alternative warfighting method.” Overall, Air Force leaders believed, “If you have the power to stop the big wars, that same power should stop the little wars as well.” This overarching “nuclear war mentality” permeated military thinking for the next four decades. The technological breakthrough that enabled the delivery of nuclear weapons indelibly shaped the force structure and the nature of Air Force doctrine for the ensuing Cold War.

Action: Screen begins with a faded mushroom cloud in background and the following sentence in upper center of screen:

  • Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki shaped the role of air power for the decades that followed
  • Action: One-fourth of the way through the narration, a picture of Enola Gay, the B-29 that released the atomic bombs over Japan, is added center screen, left side, overlaying the mushroom cloud. Soon after, a picture of the mushroom cloud over Nagasaki is added, center screen, right side. When mentioned in narration, a picture of the cover of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey is added screen center, overlapping the Nagasaki cloud and the picture of the plane. Midway through the narration, the pictures of the book cover and the plane are removed along with the top sentence. The first of the following bullets are shown left center screen. The second bullet is shown two-thirds of the way through the narration:

  • The atomic bomb changed the nature of war and, in effect, became an “Alternative Warfighting Method”
  • The effect of nuclear warfare was so profound that eventually “strategic” became synonymous with “nuclear”
  • [Back: WWII—Japan | Next: Cold War Doctrine]