[Philip Morrison worked on the Manhattan Project, and after the success of the Trinity test came out to Tinian (an island airbase within striking range of Japan) to help assemble the bomb that destroyed the city of Nagasaki. Late in 1945 he described the airbase and its activities to a committee of U.S. Senators.]
Tinian is a miracle. Here, 6,000 miles from San Francisco, the United States armed forces have built the largest airport in the world. A great coral ridge was half-levelled to fill a rough plain, and to build six runways, each an excellent 10-lane highway, each almost two miles long. Beside these runways stood in long rows the great silvery airplanes. They were there not by the dozen but by the hundred. From the air this island, smaller than Manhattan, looked like a giant aircraft carrier, its deck loaded with bombers . . .
And all these gigantic preparations had a grand and terrible outcome. At sunset some day the field would be loud with the roar of motors. Down the great runways would roll the huge planes, seeming to move slowly because of their size, but far outspeeding the occasional racing jeep. One after another each runway would launch its planes. Once every 15 seconds another B-29 would become air-borne. For an hour and a half this would continue with precision and order. The sun would go below the sea, and the last planes could still be seen in the distance, with running lights still on. Often a plane would fail to make the take-off, and go skimming horribly into the sea, or into the beach to burn like a huge torch. We came often to sit on the top of the coral ridge and watch the combat strike of the 313th wing in real awe. Most of the planes would return the next morning, standing in a long single line, like beads on a chain, from just overhead to the horizon. You could see 10 or 12 planes at a time, spaced a couple of miles apart. As fast as the near plane would land, another would appear on the edge of the sky. There were always the same number of planes in sight. The empty field would fill up, and in an hour or two all the planes would have landed.
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