Enola Gay pilot’s log auctioned for $86,500

Kyodo, Staff Report

The flight log of Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the U.S. B-29 bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, sold for $86,500 (about ¥8.87 million) during an auction of World War II memorabilia in New York on Thursday.

The log of one of America’s most famous World War II pilots was one of 65 war items related to Japan offered by Bonhams auction house.

The log, which contains a record of all of the flights during Tibbets’ military career, including the fateful flight of the Enola Gay on Aug. 6, 1945, is considered one of the most important World War II aviation manuscripts on the market.

Tibbets noted in his log that the flight in which the “Little Boy” bomb was dropped on Hiroshima lasted 12 hours and 15 minutes.

Among the other items offered, a signed text of President Harry Truman’s radio speech following the bombing was sold for $72,100.

The auction was held on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings known as D-Day, which took place on June 6, 1944, as “a way of honoring this momentous day and recognizing the tragic losses on all sides,” according to the organizer.

Among about 350 historic artifacts presented Thursday was a collection of Japanese photographs, naval strategy maps, weaponry, battlefield souvenirs and other materials, including some related to the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

The selection also featured a newly discovered collection of 24 rare photographs taken by Yosuke Yamahata, known for photographing Nagasaki the day after the atomic bombing of the city on Aug. 9, 1945.

The Imperial Japanese Army photographer, who was on assignment near Nagasaki at the time, took about 119 photographs with two cameras to record the destruction for military propaganda purposes. Although the photos attracted many bids, the auction’s results were not listed on Bonhams’ official website as of Friday.

Among other pieces under the hammer was a rare 1944 edition of the Enigma code book, which was used during the war aboard German U-boats. It fetched $146,500.

A lithographed formal Japanese announcement of the outbreak of war with the U.S., titled in Japanese as, “Imperial rescript of the Declaration of War on the United States and Great Britain,” went for $12,500.