Who (if anyone) was the Enola Gay named after?

My google-fu just isn’t cutting it… I can find bajillions of references to the (in)famous bomber, but none seem to indicate whom it was named after. (OK, I only looked at about 1/2 a bajillion…)

So was there a real Enola Gay and if so who was she and what did she do to get the plane named after her?


From Wikipedia: “The B-29 was named after Enola Gay Tibbets, the mother of the pilot, Paul Tibbets”.

Related question; who was the mother named after?

I notice that “Enola” is “Alone” spelled backwards. I wonder if that is relevant.

Tibbets would not have known what the plane would be used for when he named it, so his Mom shouldn’t have been too mad about being associated with such an infamous event.

ACtually he knew when he got the plane, he named it so it would be unique.

Shouldn’t the plane that dropped the bomb have been Neccessary Evil, really? I’m sure Mrs Tibbet would have rather been associated with filming the devastation, than creating it! And what kind of person names a deliverer of 80,000 deaths after his dear old mom?

I think it’s important to look at it in context. My dad was in the group of soldiers preparing for the invasion of Japan and they were expecting to take something like a million casualties. I’m sure Tibbets believed he was doing the right thing and named in honor of his mom.
War just isn’t nice.

From Tibbets’s memoirs:

Google Books isn’t throwing up any 19th century references to such a character.

Tibbets was quite clear that he was aware of the historical significance the plane’s name would come to have when he chose it. His explanation says little more than it was to mark his mother’s faith in his chosen career. And, as AK84 noted, that it was unusual.

Whatever anyone else’s personal views on the matter might be, Tibbets himself was never one to express or apparently feel remorse for what he’d done. In the absense of evidence to the contrary, I’d guess his mother took much the same attitude.

Dude, I hate to harsh on you, but you must have the worst Google skills on the planet. It’s in the first paragraph of the Wikipedia article.

There’s a character ‘Enola’ in Enola, or Her Fatal Mistake (1886), by Mary Young Ridenbaugh.

I can’t find a synopsis of the book to check on the Gay part, though.

Then why do it?

General Questions Moderator

I don’t have much to add that hasn’t already been said, but here is some more Enola Gay info if anyone is interested.

It also just seemed wrong for me to not participate in this thread. I think Enola Straight owes us a post here too.

Re: naming of B-29’s–I’m reading a Doper-recommended book, Bringing The Thunder, and the author touches briefly on the topic:

So, maybe Tibbets’ hometown was already taken by another crew. Or maybe he didn’t think The Quincy sounded very threatening.

Did they have a problem with Ruptured Duck?

Marginally related hijack: Is it ok to rename airplanes? I know it is considered bad luck for boats. Was Enola Gay the original name to comply with whatever standards were required of a plane that was going to get so much press or was it renamed?

(and yeah, when they dropped that bomb, it was meant to end the war, nothing about innocent victims. That is a more modern thought, right or wrong. It would have been an honor for anyone, I am sure)

Surely, there were people at the time who also thought it was wrong. We are not reaching across that great a chasm of history here.

Very true, although I suspect that the US Air Force did not choose someone from that group to fly the plane that would drop the bomb.

Tibbets claimed to have picked the particular plane out of the production line at the factory in Omaha and there’s no real reason to doubt this. He then names it. There is some confusion in the literature because some of the initial routine flights were piloted by one of his deputies and this has led to the suggestion that Tibbets commandeered the plane at a relatively late stage and renames it. But Tibbets’s story has the ring of truth about it, particularly because he was the one person who was privy to the significance from the start. Whereas everyone else junior to him doesn’t find out until the last few hours, so their accounts of the preceding events are potentially more coloured by backfilling.
Offhand, I seem to remember there is testimony that the name isn’t actually painted on until right before the mission, but this may be tied up with that confusion.

Ah, promising - I was trying the full “Enola Gay”.

Yes, there were, though they were a distinct minority of voices at the time.

Aside from the “Chicago revolt” amongst the scientists ahead of deployment, there was at least a range of editorial opinions in the press after the fact at the time.
As far as representative numbers are concerned, I’d be most inclined to trust the Gallup poll done in September 1945: 69% approved of the bombings, 17% disagreed and 14% were undecided.