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Genesis of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Project

On the night of Pearl Harbour my father was re-circumcised by the wind- shield of a Wellington bomber. His crew was sent out on a practice run around southern England. He was thrown out onto the snow of Lord Noughfields’s golf course just outside Oxford. It was cold and visibility poor, so he had been doing a stint at a gunner’s post looking out for barrage-balloon wires, and radioing back to the pilot to go left or right so the wings wouldn’t be ripped off. He had just returned to his seat when the pilot announced they had run out of fuel. Only he and the rear gunner survived. His face was so bruised and cut that an old friend of his family from Argentina did not recognize him at first when brought to identify him.

It was probably a good thing that he crashed, as the attrition rate for bombers was high at that time of the war. After six months of convalescence the military command asked him to resume flying bombers, and for the first time in his life he asserted himself, refused, and was put on Spitfires. By then it was fairly safe as there wasn’t much left to shoot down.

I think my father was glad I was in the Peace Movement. Perhaps it was partly to atone for the dozen or so people he thought would have died by bombs dropped from his plane. So when Dominick asked if I wanted to build full-scale models of the two bombs used, what could be more appropriate?

At first I thought of making the core of the Hiroshima bomb using a sono- tube, common for making cylindrical concrete columns, but soon realized it would be too weak. So then I priced spiral duct and asked if it could be ordered. As it was late July the first store’s shop would be on holiday for two weeks, so I called a second. A week later Jenny and I bundled 10 feet of 12” spiral duct on top of her yellow Camero to bring back to my porch/shop. I installed five plywood discs around the duct, wrapped the whole thing with black sheet metal, built plywood fins and a nose using foam-board from an institutional job-site I was on, and voil?, there was the Hiroshima bomb.

For the Nagasaki bomb I went with a fire-engine red 4’ diameter thick high-quality vinyl Italian balloon, painted black with a special vinyl ink. The valve supplied didn’t work to inflate it, so we used an old valve cut from a bicycle tube.

I bought materials for a zig-zag display wall for the War Resistors’ League posters. Then my girlfriend pointed out on Sunday August 6 afternoon that there was not enough time to finish both models and the display wall, so I gave her a roll of wire and duct-tape to make the initial display before all the TV media left. She went down to City Hall with the posters, and got them up so that crowds could look at them. There’s still a pile of lumber decorating my front hall.

Since then, the models have been a hit at Metro Hall, Brock and York. It’s a great work-out getting the 10 1/2’ Hiroshima bomb up stairways, and the 4’ Nagasaki balloon through doorways! If you haven’t come out before, don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime chance to shuttle Canada’s only pair of model nuclear war-heads around from one campus to the next! There’s no life like it! Honest!

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