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Essay/Term paper: The atomic bomb and the manhatten project

Essay, term paper, research paper:  World War

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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 generatedā€¦. 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 communist"s 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 mile. This task was especially hard also because the shape of the bomb was very unusual. It was spherical shape not the common cylindrical shape. This might not seem too much today but back then it would most likely be luck if you could accomplish this task. That"s why they hand picked those men for the 509th unit especially for this mission. On April 12, 1945 Roosevelt died and Harry S. Truman became the new president. He was briefed on the situation and the Manhattan Project. By April 26, 1945, the men of the 509th unit were ready to move over seas to Tinian Island, it took approximately twenty-six days to move most the men to Tinian Island. On May 7, Germany surrendered and a load lifted off America"s back. Truman now briefed on this subject, which he had no idea was going on before, constructed an Interim Committee on Nuclear Energy. On May 31 and June 1, this committee reached three conclusions. The three conclusions were; that the bomb would be used as soon as possible, without warning. Against a Japanese city where war plants were set amidst workers" homes and other easily damaged building, in order to create the greatest psychological impact. On June 18, Truman approves the plans for invading Japan. On July 4, approval of use of the bomb on the Japanese passed between the United States and British. On July 7, Truman and Stimson proceeded to the Potsdam Conference. At this conference, they will conduct the long awaited test of the atomic bomb. The conference was held in Alamogordo, a very dry, isolated, desert region. The world"s first nuclear explosion occurred at 5:29 AM on Monday, July 16, 1945. After the explosion, there was not a single doubt in the mind of all the onlookers. That this bomb could not win the war for them and that all the time and money they put into this bomb was well worth the effort. It destroyed a test barrel of steel set in concrete, which no one expected it to touch because it was a half-mile away. The light from the blast was visible up to 180 miles away, and the sound heard at hundreds of mile away. The ball of fire rose 10,000 feet and the cloud produced by the fire rose about 36,000 above the fire. Everyone that had worked on the project was very delighted in its success. Now the project was a definite yes, and the training began. The 509th started on test missions, taking pumpkin shaped bombs and bombing Japan while testing for accuracy and effectiveness. The first trial run was not very successful one of the planes had engine trouble and had to drop it's bombs into the ocean. Five of the ten planes hit the target two by radar and three by visual. The final four were way off target one plane actually bombed Tokyo, which was classified "off limits", and to add to that some of the bombs landed on palace grounds. If these bombs killed the emperor, all hopes of surrender would be gone. On the day of the first test run the weather was very uncooperative, the visibility was horrible and high winds did not make the job any easier. Although, on a second run the 509th unit did extremely well, the results rated very effective and successful. This brought upon quite a few compliments to Tibbets and his men. The success rate of the planes only got better as time went by and the 509th unit was almost ready for the actual mission. On July 26, the Potsdam Proclamation proceeded to the emperor of Japan. This proclamation brought out eight different terms of surrender. The first one was that there had to be permanent elimination of the power and influence of the military. Second, allied forces would occupy essential places until a "new order or peace, security, and justice" is established. Third, Japanese sovereignty would be limited to the Home Islands. In other words, Japan must give up all territory taken by aggression since forced out of isolation in 1853. Fourth, Japan"s military forces would be disarmed, then permitted to return to their homes in order to live "peaceful and productive lives". Fifth, justice would be metered out to war criminals but there is no intention to enslave Japan. Sixth, Japan could retain an industrial base for her economy, but not rearm. Seventh, occupation would end when Japan had "established a peacefully inclined and responsible government." Japan must "proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces," on pain of "prompt and utter destruction." After close examination and consideration of the document, Japan announced that it was ignoring the proclamation and were going to keep fighting the Americans. Five days later the day Truman left Potsdam he gave the final okay on the execution of the plan to bomb Japan. For the first, few days of august weather did not permit any type of flying. The first atomic bomb to be dropped on Japan was nick named little boy. It was loaded into the plane the Enola Gay, which also held Tibbets. On April 6, 1945 at about 8:15 AM, before air raid alarms could go off, little boy exploded. The temperature was estimated to reach over 1,000,000 degrees Celsius. This bomb initially killed about a hundred thousand people, then injured about the same amount, and that does not include how many it killed after the blast from exposure to the radiation. Two days after the first bomb was dropped the U.S.S.R declared war on Japan. On August 9, we dropped the bomb on Nagasaki at about 10:58 AM. The results were slightly greater than the Hiroshima bomb. This bomb caused these cities to turn into complete rubble, there was nothing left standing with in a four square mile radius of where the bomb hit. So on September 2, 1945; General MacArthur accepts Japans formal surrender aboard battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Therefore, the tragic war ends quicker than anyone could have ever imagined. The US now has a new weapon to use in warfare and have set up bases in Japan. So I ask you was the atomic bomb a god thing or a bad thing for our society. It helped us win a world war and helped us become a super-power of the world but it also is now one of the great dangers of the world. You decideā€¦


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