What was Plan B if the Atomic Bombs Hadn’t Worked?

7/1/2014 • Ask Mr. History

Even after the second atomic bomb was dropped at Nagasaki, and the Soviets entered the war, there was still no certainty that Japan would quit. What was Plan B? Were there more bombs being made, and how long would it take to get them? Would we invade the home islands? Did the US have a Plan B?

Gregory Taylor

? ? ?

Dear Gregory,

The atomic bombs were Plan B. Plan A was Operation Olympic, the projected invasion of Japan. After Nagasaki, it would have taken too long to create more nuclear weapons, but even conventional bombing had proven sufficient to ruin Japan’s infrastructure and exterminate its populace—the bombing of Tokyo on March 10, 1945 had killed 100,000 people in a single night. Moreover, as of August 9, 1945, the Japanese were not just facing the prospect of an Anglo-American invasion, but one by the Soviet Union, which even the most diehard Japanese fanatics had heavily counted on staying out of the Far Eastern war. Bombs or no bombs, when the Soviets entered the war as promised at Potsdam, shredded the largest Japanese army on the Asian continent in a matter of days, and began making preparations to land in the Kuriles, all but the most insane Japanese knew it was over. There was no need for a Plan C.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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