The Enola Gay and the Smithsonian
After "The Last Act"
With Martin Harwit gone, the museum displayed the Enola Gay's forward fuselage, a propeller, and other components in a depoliticized exhibit. It drew four million visitors, the most ever for a special exhibit. (NASM photo by Carolyn Russo)
In 1994, the National Air and Space Museum and its parent organization, the Smithsonian Institution, planned to exhibit the
Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, as a prop in a political horror show. It would have depicted Japan more as the victim instead of the aggressor in World War II.
However, the museum's plans were revealed by
Magazine, the journal of the Air Force Association. A raging controversy ensued, and in response to public and Congressional outrage, the political exhibition was canceled in 1995 and the museum director was fired.
The Smithsonian Institution replaced the original exhibition with a straightforward program that eventually became the most popular exhibition in the museum's history.
The controversy never died. Books and articles continue to appear, many of them written by people who have not bothered to check the facts.
Here are the contemporary articles, reports, and documents—drawn upon by all parties to the controversy—that were the raw materials for the argument in 1994 and 1995.
Here also is the complete report, "The Smithsonian and the Enola Gay," published by the Air Force Association in April 2004.
Chronology of the Controversy
Revisionism Gone Wrong: A collection of Air Force Association reports, analyses and articles, ranging from March 1994 to December 1996.
Special reports and analyses
Articles and editorials
The Atom Bomb
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