2. The Japanese City That Dodged Destruction
Sometimes in history, the margin between catastrophe and salvation is rather thin, and depends on little more than the vagaries and whims of fate. Few examples are more illustrative of that than the fate of the Japanese city of Kokura on August 9th, 1945. At 3:49AM that morning, the Bockscar, a B-29 piloted by US Air Force Major Charles W. Sweeney, took off from Tinian Island in the Pacific, headed for Kokura.
In the bomb bay was Fat Man, a plutonium atomic bomb, more powerful than the uranium core weapon that had devastated Hiroshima three days earlier. As late night turned to dawn and then morning, Kokura stirred and came to life, its inhabitants blissfully unaware that death was winging its way towards them. Weather observation planes reported clear skies over Kokura, and the Bockscar proceeded to a rendezvous point where it was supposed to link up with Big Stink, a B-29 tasked with filming the strike. Then fate intervened, and spared Kokura.