|Timelines of World War II|
The Manhattan Project was a research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs during World War II. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army Corps of Engineers. The Army component of the project was designated the Manhattan District; "Manhattan" gradually became the codename for the entire project. Along the way, the project absorbed its earlier British counterpart, Tube Alloys. The Manhattan Project began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion (about $31.9 billion in 2022 dollars). Over 90% of the cost was for building factories and producing the fissionable materials, with less than 10% for development and production of the weapons.
Two types of atomic bombs were developed during the war. A relatively simple gun-type fission weapon was made using uranium-235, an isotope that makes up only 0.7 percent of natural uranium. Since it is chemically identical to the most common isotope, uranium-238, and has almost the same mass, it proved difficult to separate. Three methods were employed for uranium enrichment: electromagnetic, gaseous and thermal. Most of this work was performed at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In parallel with the work on uranium was an effort to produce plutonium. Reactors were constructed at Oak Ridge and Hanford, Washington, in which uranium was irradiated and transmuted into plutonium. The plutonium was then chemically separated from the uranium. The gun-type design proved impractical to use with plutonium so a more complex implosion-type nuclear weapon was developed in a concerted design and construction effort at the project's principal research and design laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
The following is a timeline of the Manhattan Project. It includes a number of events prior to the official formation of the Manhattan Project, and a number of events after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, until the Manhattan Project was formally replaced by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1947.
"Fat Man" was the codename for the type of nuclear weapon the United States detonated over the Japanese city of Nagasaki on 9 August 1945. It was the second of the only two nuclear weapons ever used in warfare, the first being Little Boy, and its detonation marked the third nuclear explosion in history. It was built by scientists and engineers at Los Alamos Laboratory using plutonium from the Hanford Site, and was dropped from the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Bockscar piloted by Major Charles Sweeney.
Little Boy was the name of the type of atomic bomb used in the bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 during World War II, making it the first nuclear weapon used in warfare. The bomb was dropped by the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay piloted by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets Jr., commander of the 509th Composite Group, and Captain Robert A. Lewis. It exploded with an energy of approximately 15 kilotons of TNT (63 TJ) and caused widespread death and destruction throughout the city. The Hiroshima bombing was the second nuclear explosion in history, after the Trinity nuclear test.
The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States in collaboration with the United Kingdom and with support from Canada. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer was the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory that designed the bombs. The Army component was designated the Manhattan District, as its first headquarters were in Manhattan; the name gradually superseded the official codename, Development of Substitute Materials, for the entire project. The project absorbed its earlier British counterpart, Tube Alloys. The Manhattan Project grew rapidly and employed nearly 130,000 people at its peak and cost nearly US$2 billion. Over 90 percent of the cost was for building factories and to produce fissile material, with less than 10 percent for development and production of the weapons. Research and production took place at more than 30 sites across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, conducted by the United States Army at 5:29 a.m. MWT on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project. The test was of an implosion-design plutonium bomb, nicknamed the "gadget", of the same design as the Fat Man bomb later detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945. Concerns about whether the complex Fat Man design would work led to a decision to conduct the first nuclear test. The code name "Trinity" was assigned by J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory, inspired by the poetry of John Donne.
Operation Sandstone was a series of nuclear weapon tests in 1948. It was the third series of American tests, following Trinity in 1945 and Crossroads in 1946, and preceding Ranger. Like the Crossroads tests, the Sandstone tests were carried out at the Pacific Proving Grounds, although at Enewetak Atoll rather than Bikini Atoll. They differed from Crossroads in that they were conducted by the Atomic Energy Commission, with the armed forces having only a supporting role. The purpose of the Sandstone tests was also different: they were primarily tests of new bomb designs rather than of the effects of nuclear weapons. Three tests were carried out in April and May 1948 by Joint Task Force 7, with a work force of 10,366 personnel, of whom 9,890 were military.
Tube Alloys was the research and development programme authorised by the United Kingdom, with participation from Canada, to develop nuclear weapons during the Second World War. Starting before the Manhattan Project in the United States, the British efforts were kept classified, and as such had to be referred to by code even within the highest circles of government.
Chicago Pile-1 (CP-1) was the world's first artificial nuclear reactor. On 2 December 1942, the first human-made self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was initiated in CP-1 during an experiment led by Enrico Fermi. The secret development of the reactor was the first major technical achievement for the Manhattan Project, the Allied effort to create nuclear weapons during World War II. Developed by the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago, CP-1 was built under the west viewing stands of the original Stagg Field. Although the project's civilian and military leaders had misgivings about the possibility of a disastrous runaway reaction, they trusted Fermi's safety calculations and decided they could carry out the experiment in a densely populated area. Fermi described the reactor as "a crude pile of black bricks and wooden timbers".
The Quebec Agreement was a secret agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States outlining the terms for the coordinated development of the science and engineering related to nuclear energy and specifically nuclear weapons. It was signed by Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt on 19 August 1943, during World War II, at the First Quebec Conference in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
The Metallurgical Laboratory was a scientific laboratory at the University of Chicago that was established in February 1942 to study and use the newly discovered chemical element plutonium. It researched plutonium's chemistry and metallurgy, designed the world's first nuclear reactors to produce it, and developed chemical processes to separate it from other elements. In August 1942 the lab's chemical section was the first to chemically separate a weighable sample of plutonium, and on 2 December 1942, the Met Lab produced the first controlled nuclear chain reaction, in the reactor Chicago Pile-1, which was constructed under the stands of the university's old football stadium, Stagg Field.
The S-1 Executive Committee laid the groundwork for the Manhattan Project by initiating and coordinating the early research efforts in the United States, and liaising with the Tube Alloys Project in Britain.
The X-10 Graphite Reactor is a decommissioned nuclear reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Formerly known as the Clinton Pile and X-10 Pile, it was the world's second artificial nuclear reactor, and the first designed and built for continuous operation. It was built during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project.
"Thin Man" was the code name for a proposed plutonium gun-type nuclear bomb that the United States was developing during the Manhattan Project. Its development was abandoned when it was discovered that the spontaneous fission rate of nuclear reactor-bred plutonium was too high for use in a gun-type design due to the high concentration of the isotope plutonium-240 in the plutonium produced at the Clinton Engineer Works.
Charles Allen Thomas was a noted American chemist and businessman, and an important figure in the Manhattan Project. He held over 100 patents.
The Montreal Laboratory in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, was established by the National Research Council of Canada during World War II to undertake nuclear research in collaboration with the United Kingdom, and to absorb some of the scientists and work of the Tube Alloys nuclear project in Britain. It became part of the Manhattan Project, and designed and built some of the world's first nuclear reactors.
The bismuth-phosphate process was used to extract plutonium from irradiated uranium taken from nuclear reactors. It was developed during World War II by Stanley G. Thompson, a chemist working for the Manhattan Project at the University of California, Berkeley. This process was used to produce plutonium at the Hanford Site. Plutonium was used in the atomic bomb that was used in the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in August 1945. The process was superseded in the 1950s by the REDOX and PUREX processes.
Britain initiated the first research project to design an atomic bomb in 1941 and helped the United States to recognise how important this type of research was and get the Manhattan Project started in 1942 as well as contributing to carrying this through to successful completion in August 1945 by supplying crucial expertise to the project.
Marshall Glecker Holloway was an American physicist who worked at the Los Alamos Laboratory during and after World War II. He was its representative, and the deputy scientific director, at the Operation Crossroads nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific in July 1946. Holloway became the head of the Laboratory's W Division, responsible for new weapons development. In September 1952 he was charged with designing, building and testing a thermonuclear weapon, popularly known as a hydrogen bomb. This culminated in the Ivy Mike test in November of that year.
The Ames Project was a research and development project that was part of the larger Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bombs during World War II. It was founded by Frank Spedding from Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa as an offshoot of the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago devoted to chemistry and metallurgy, but became a separate project in its own right. The Ames Project developed the Ames Process, a method for preparing pure uranium metal that the Manhattan Project needed for its atomic bombs and nuclear reactors. Between 1942 and 1945, it produced over 1,000 short tons (910 t) of uranium metal. It also developed methods of preparing and casting thorium, cerium and beryllium. In October 1945 Iowa State College received the Army-Navy "E" Award for Excellence in Production, an award usually only given to industrial organizations. In 1947 it became the Ames Laboratory, a national laboratory under the Atomic Energy Commission.
The Los Alamos Laboratory, also known as Project Y, was a secret laboratory established by the Manhattan Project and operated by the University of California during World War II. Its mission was to design and build the first atomic bombs. Robert Oppenheimer was its first director, serving from 1943 to December 1945, when he was succeeded by Norris Bradbury. In order to enable scientists to freely discuss their work while preserving security, the laboratory was located in a remote part of New Mexico. The wartime laboratory occupied buildings that had once been part of the Los Alamos Ranch School.