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A short document regarding A-bomb availability. (3 pgs.)

Discussion in 'Allied Heavy Weapons' started by OpanaPointer, Mar 28, 2018.

  1. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II

    A Collection of Primary Sources

    National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 162



    Document 72: Telephone conversation transcript, General Hull and Colonel Seaman [sic] – 1325 – 13 Aug 45, Top Secret
    Source: George C. Marshall Library, Lexington, VA, George C. Marshall Papers (copy courtesy of Barton J. Bernstein)



    General Hull and Colonel Seaman — 1325 — 13 Aug 45

    H What General Marshall wants to know is the status of the development of these bombs now so we can best determine how to use them. There is one of them due [​IMG] up the 23d as I recall it.

    S There's one ready to be shipped - waiting on order right now.

    H The question arises as to whether to start in the movement of them out there according to the old schedule or whether they should be shipping in accordance with our next operation. Two of them have had a tremendous effect on the Japanese as far as capitulation is concerned. The next one won't be effective in that respect. In other the Japs will or will not. General Marshall feels we should consider now whether or not dropping them as originally planned, or these we have now should be back for use in direct support of major operations but their dropping should be in conformity with their priority. That is the idea. What we want to know is what the program is now so we can report on it.

    S The whole program is phased according to the best production. There is one of [​IMG] them that is ready to be shipped right now. The order was given Thursday and it should be ready the 19th.

    H If the order is given now, when can it be ready?

    S Thursday would be its readiness; the 19th it would be dropped.

    H In other words, three or four days advance notice before it can be shipped, and six days after that when it can be dropped.

    S That's figuring it so it will be safe. Then there will be another one the first part of September. Then there are three definite. There is a possibility of a fourth one in September, either the middle or the latter part.

    H Now, how many in October?

    S Probably three in October.

    H That's three definite, possibly four by the end of September; possibly three more by the end of October; making a total possibility of seven. That is the information I want.

    S So you can figure on three a month with a possibility of a fourth one. If you get the fourth one, you won't get it next month. That is up to November.[​IMG]

    H The last one, which is a possibility for the end of October, could you count [​IMG]on that nee before the end of October?


    [​IMG]
    S We have a possibility seven, with a good chance of using them prior to the 31st of October.

    H They come out approximately at the rate of three a month. [​IMG]


    --1--

    S We are still in the midst of development - you will appreciate that. The possibility will have to be considered that there might be a dud. Going through the development, we are changing amounts and proportions of the active material so that certain ones may or will have lesser power. They may be more nearly equivalent to the one at Hiroshima than the one at Nagasaki.

    H Tell me this - are they all coming out of the same pipeline or do you have two establishments?

    S No, sir. It is out of the same pipeline.

    H In other words, they will be spaced fairly evenly then; about one every ten days.

    S The biggest gap will be between the one now and the one for the first part of September. After that, I would say approximately one every ten days.

    H That will continue even after the first of November, we will say.

    S Every ten days.

    H That gives me the information I want.

    S Except in September, we can only count on three in September, counting the one now. Don't figure the rate of three a month, until starting with October. One now, one definitely the first part of September, one the middle of September and possibly the latter part of September. Three from now until the end of September, and three a month thereafter.

    H That gives me the information I want. Now, on each one of them, whatever the plan may be of decision, we can figure how long from the time it is produced until the time it is out there ready for use.

    S From the time of its readiness here, I think we have been using six days. We have allowed for weather en route, possible change in air crew.

    H That is the information I wanted. The problem now is whether or not, assuming the Japanese do not capitulate, continue on dropping them every time one is made and shipped out there or whether to hold them up as far as the dropping is concerned and then pour them all on in a reasonably short time. Not all in one day, but over a short period. And that also takes into consideration the target that we are after. In other wards should we not concentrate on targets that will be of the greatest assistance to an invasion rather than industry, morale, psychology, etc.

    S Nearer the tactical use rather than other use.

    H That is what it amounts to. That is your own personal reaction to that?


    --2--

    S I have studied that [a good deal]. Our own troops would have to be about six miles away. I am not sure that the Air Forces could place it within 500 feet of the point we want. Of course, it is not that "pinpoint*. Then the stage of development has to be considered. The work it is liable to be used for the more or less has to be the explosive effect. It would be just a gamble on putting or sending those troops through.

    H Not the same day or anything like that. We might do it a couple or three days before. You plan to land on a certain beach. Behind which you know there is a good road communication and maybe a division or two of Japanese troops. Neutralization of that at some time from H Hour of the landing back earlier, maybe a day or two or three. I don't anticipate that you would be dropping it as we do other type tombs that are in support of the infantry. I am thinking about neutralizing a division or a communication center or something so that it would facilitate the movement ashore of troops.

    S That is the preferable use at this time from that standpoint. The weapon we have is not a penetration weapon. The workmanship is not as good as possible. It is much better than average workmanship. We are still developing it though.

    H From this on more or less of the timing factor, how much time before the troops actually [?] into that area do you think would be the safety factor? Suppose you did get a dud or an incomplete explosion, what safety factor should you consider, one, two, three days?

    S I think we are sending some people over to actually measure that factor. I think certainly by within 48 hours that could be done. Everything is going so fast. We would like to train people and get them in a combat spirit to do that. I think the people we have are the best qualified in that line. Of course, as you say, if it is used back in a kind of reserve line or in a reserve position or a concentration area but that you wouldn't be up against right away.

    H I don't think you would land at eight o'clock in the morning and you would drop it at six o'clock, but the day before, even from the tactical standpoint without regard to when it fails to go off or something like that.

    S Another thing you may be likely to consider is that while you are landing you night not want to use it as it could be a dud. It is not something that you fool around with.

    H I would appreciate if you would discuss that angle with General Groves. I would like to have his slant on it. That is the question, how do we employ it and when do we employ it next? It has certainly served its purpose, those two we have used. I don't think it could have been more useful than it has. If we had another one, today would be a good day to drop it. We don't have it ready. Anyhow within the next ten days the Japanese will make up their minds one way or the other so the psychological effect is lost so far as the next one is concerned in my opinion, pertaining to capitulation. Should we not lay off a while, and then group them one, two, three? I should like to get his slant on the thing, General Groves' slant.

    --3--
     
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  2. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Hitting operational targets and not strategic ones is probably what would have been done had the bombs been ready when we got to the Rhine. By that time the German cities were pretty much well worked over. Of course that would mean American and even Allied troops would have been contaminated too.
     
  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Without a doubt. The target zones would have been "hot" for much longer than than the time allowed in the memo.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If they had gotten a good lead on where Hitler was that might have been a useful "demonstration". How hot and how long depends a lot on how it's used. If they were going to maximize the impact on forces in the open then an air burst would be the way to go and that doesn't leave all that much of a hot area. Ground burst on the other hand ... Fortunately the prevailing winds blow east.
     
  5. harolds

    harolds Member

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    If the Allies had a good fix on Hitler, say in his bunker, it might have been worth it. However, they'd have to use a ground burst since the bunker would have probably survived an air burst. The bad part of that, as lwd points out would have been the total contamination of Berlin and downwind. The good part would be by killing Der Fuhrer and thus releasing the German Generals from their oath. Unfortunately, the memo states that these bombs were hardly precision weapons.
     
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  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Both the bombs used on Japan were air bursts.
     
  7. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Killing Hitler was probably the only thing that could end German resistance, but as you say, not easily achieved.
     
  8. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I found this while digitizing documents from the NSA site:

    While our plan of operations is based on the more certain, more powerful, gun type bomb, it also provides for the use of the implosion type bombs as soon as they become available. The target is and was always expected to be Japan. A composite group of the 20th Air Force has been organised and specially trained and equipped. The initial echelons are about to leave for the overseas base.

    My bold. Source:
    23 April 1945
    MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF WAR
    ATOMIC FISSION BOMBS
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I would think that some time in the second half of 44 it would be obvious that Germany was going to be out of the war before the bombs were ready. Indeed I'd put the date in August of 44 if asked to be more specific.
     
  10. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I would agree. But the "always was" is ... intriguing. I have a few more (99) documents to plow through yet.
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    It certainly is. The context will likely be important. Which is why it's so nice to have all those primary documents you keep adding ....
     
  12. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Considering that the Einstein letter was dated Aug. 2, 1939, the earliest ideas would seem to be "beat the Germans to the bomb, and perhaps beat the Germans with the bomb." We shall see.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'd always heard that the initial effort was for use against the Germans and that didn't change until it was clear that they would either be defeated or so close to it as to make the bomb irrelevant that it was changed to Japan as the target. Wouldn't be the first long standing understanding I have had that needs revision if it does though.
     
  14. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The minutes of the meetings at the Truman Library will be important here.

    "This mission is of the utmost importance, but don't let it interfere with your Scotch drinking, we do have our standards!"
     
  15. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    We might differentiate between "plan of operations" and "development of the bomb". When the Manhattan Project started, there was a reasonable likelihood of using it against Germany; no one knew how long it might take or how the war would progress. Operation plans were only developed when they knew the bomb would be available - even knew the two types of bomb - by which time the likely defeat of Germany was more evident.
     
  16. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The NSA documents start in September, 1944. Further digging will be needed. I now have a good excuse to tunnel into Stimson's diaries. I hope I live the twenty years that will take.
     
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  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Better make it 25 or 30 at least ... just to make sure.
     
  18. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    He wrote pages nearly every day. If I just did his stint as SecWar it would run to thousands of pages in print.
     

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