At the beginning of 2020, museum staff members were in the final planning stages for a comprehensive exhibit commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. While COVID-19 has hampered progress and we did not have the opportunity to unveil it during what is normally our peak summer visitation, the elements of the story of this monumental event are coming together.
In what the staff has taken to calling the “accordion,” a series of triangular panels crowned by a photograph of President Harry S. Truman tell the story of the final months of World War II and the factors that led to the decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan.
This leads to a unique display of a replica of the atomic bomb “Fat Man” dropped on Nagasaki. Part of the museum’s collection for decades, this atomic bomb “shape” has always been displayed at floor level resting on its fins. For the new exhibit, we have suspended it from the ceiling nose down to a position just over the USS Cabot (CVL 28) flight deck. Interpretive panels recount the mission of the B-29 Superfortress “Bock’s Car,” which flew the Nagasaki mission. Naval aviator CDR Richard Ashworth served as weaponeer on the flight, arming the bomb before its release.
The final element of the exhibit, which is currently under construction, features the façade of a wartime train station and will tell the story of the V-J Day celebrations and the journey home from overseas of millions of servicemen and women, which was called Operation Magic Carpet.