The Atomic Bomb and the Manhattan Project
It was December 7, 1942 a beautiful mourning in Pearl Harbor. When out of the blue, hundreds of Japanese planes bomb and either sunk or severely damaged eight battle ships and at least thirteen other naval ships that were docked on the shore. This spark is what involved the United States the forest fire known as World War II. My paper is not on the war itself, but is on the atomic bomb, and what was known as the Manhattan project. In my report I will talk about the many reasons, the atomic bomb had to be created and used.
The atomic warfare capabilities of the United States were brought about in a letter from Mr. Albert Einstein to Franklin D. Roosevelt, our current president at the time. It may be possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. It is conceivable, though much less certain, that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed. His letter was the inspiration for the atomic bomb.
Although it took a while for Roosevelt to realize what we had stumbled upon, his close friend Alexander Sachs helped him realize the possibilities. Two years later in November Roosevelt appointed a committee to advise him on nuclear fission and the capabilities of the concept in war. At the head of this committee was Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. About a month later, an event happened that would change the history books forever. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii at about 7:50 in the mourning.
This brought America into the war and the Manhattan Project was on its way. The Manhattan Project included the designing and construction of the atomic bomb, and the execution of dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There were three major research and production sites for the project. The first was Los Alamos, near Alamogordo, New Mexico. This is where the actual weapon would be designed. The head of this site was Julius Robert Oppenheimer; this caused a small uproar because of past involvement in pro communists activities.
The second site for the Manhattan Project was in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. At this site, scientist and laborers were separating U-235 from U-238. Here the Hiroshima bomb was built in huge buildings and the locals could only imagine what was going on behind the walls of that building. The third site was at Hanford, Washington. At this site, plutonium was produced; this is where the Nagasaki bomb was built. The difference between the two bombs was the method of detonation.
The methods of fusion in both of them were the same. The positive result of using plutonium was it was much more abundant than U-235. The discovery of plutonium was made at Berkley College in California. This discovery was very important because it decreased the time it was going to take the to make the bomb by an unimaginable amount of time. Not hundreds of years, but in time to use against the Japanese before we lost the war. In about a year a workable atomic pile had been created at the University of Chicago.
This project was supervised by Enrico Fermi, but he had quite an intelligent group of scientist working with him. The military part of this project was called the Operation Silver Plate. The leader of this mission was Lieutenant Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr. The place picked for this operation was Wendover Field, Utah, and it was one of the most miserable places on earth. About late September 1944, the best of the best men in our military started arriving at Wendover Field.
These men were the ingredients of the 509th squadron and together they were one of the best units ever to have been put into war. The standards for this group would almost be impossible if they were not who they were. They had to drop the bomb from about 30,000 feet and could only have 200-foot margin of error. They could only have a navigational margin of error of about a half of .