The Manhattan Project

Cuba

Russell E. Gackenbach's Interview

Alexandra Levy: We are here on December 27th, 2016, in Florida, with Russell Gackenbach. My first question for you is to please say your name and spell it.

Russell Gackenbach: My name is Russell E. Gackenbach. G-A-C-K-E-N-B-A-C-H.

Levy: Please tell us your place and date of birth.

Gackenbach: I was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, March 1923, on March 23.

Russell E. Gackenbach

Russell E. Gackenbach was a navigator in the 393rd Bombardment Squadron and 509th composite group. He flew on both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki missions. His crew flew aboard the Necessary Evil, which was the camera plane for the Hiroshima mission. Gackenbach photographed the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima. His crew flew again during the Nagasaki mission as the weather reconnaissance plane for the city of Kokura. 

Cuba

After the activation of the 509th Composite Group in December 1944, some members of the group (including members of the 393rd Bombardment Squadron, the unit's combat squad) went to Cuba for training. At Batista Field in San Antonio de Los Baños, the group trained for a month. They worked on long-range, over-water flights, in preparation for the long haul between Tinian Island and Japan. The avoided formation flights so crews would adjust to flying solo.

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