Atomic Weapons Before WW2

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OpanaPointer
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Re: Atomic Weapons Before WW2

Post by OpanaPointer » 09 Sep 2019 16:51

You can't ignore factors.

The atomic bomb wasn't used as a last resort, it was just another weapon to be used against Japan in the "rain of ruin" Truman promised them if they didn't stop the madness.

The plan for the atomic bombs was originally to use it in Europe. If it had been ready it probably would have been used on Berlin or targets of more military value.
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Re: Atomic Weapons Before WW2

Post by Volyn » 09 Sep 2019 18:55

OpanaPointer wrote:
09 Sep 2019 16:51
You can't ignore factors.

The atomic bomb wasn't used as a last resort, it was just another weapon to be used against Japan in the "rain of ruin" Truman promised them if they didn't stop the madness.

The plan for the atomic bombs was originally to use it in Europe. If it had been ready it probably would have been used on Berlin or targets of more military value.
At least Truman warned Japan the "rain of ruin" was coming, and he waited for their response before the bombs were used. He intentionally gave the Japanese leadership time to consider the situation. He may not have given Japan the exact information about what was coming, however, they were very clear about what they intended to do, and had already been doing since mid-1944. I doubt that Hitler, Tojo or Stalin would have done the same if they had these weapons.

Also, the A-bomb was a last resort weapon, the anticipated casualty figures for the invasion and conquest of Japan proved too high of a burden for the US leadership. If the bombs had been "just another weapon", then there would have been no need to compare and contrast their potential options about whether they should use it or not.

I believe that even if the first 2 bombs did not bring about the Japanese surrender, the US would have continued to drop more bombs (as they became available), until there was no potential opposition for a ground campaign. However, would the US have used these weapons sooner in the war if they had them?

Can we determine likely use options for the other 3 regimes?

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Re: Atomic Weapons Before WW2

Post by Takao » 09 Sep 2019 19:18

A German diplomatic train to Moscow is a non-starter. The break-in-guage prevents this. With many having A-Bombs, the Soviets will go over any transferred cargo with several fine-toothed combs, and the bombs will be easily found.

Heavily armored tanks are easily stopped by mines ,artillery, and anti-tank obstacles. Not to mention, that Japan had no such heavy tanks, nor that to defeat China would require far more bombs than the two available.

Ships and submarines are remote possibilities at best. U-47 did get lucky, but the harbor was mostly empty. Further, with A-Bombs now being common, nations will purposely scatter force concentrations...ie. Like having some of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl, some at Lahaiana Roads, and some out on patrol. Scapa Flow would do likewise.

It seems rather ignorant, no to expect nations not to take precautions in the face of a known threat.

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Re: Atomic Weapons Before WW2

Post by Volyn » 09 Sep 2019 20:15

So it would seem that a different type of Cold War would ensue instead of a limited nuclear war?

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Re: Atomic Weapons Before WW2

Post by OpanaPointer » 09 Sep 2019 22:37

Volyn wrote:
09 Sep 2019 18:55
o
Also, the A-bomb was a last resort weapon, the anticipated casualty figures for the invasion and conquest of Japan proved too high of a burden for the US leadership. If the bombs had been "just another weapon", then there would have been no need to compare and contrast their potential options about whether they should use it or not.
The invasions were never canceled while hostilities were on.
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Re: Atomic Weapons Before WW2

Post by Takao » 09 Sep 2019 23:35

Volyn wrote:
09 Sep 2019 20:15
So it would seem that a different type of Cold War would ensue instead of a limited nuclear war?
Not really unless the weapons are deliverable.

Further, there use defensively is probably negligible. Take Leningrad or Stalingrad, which tied up huge numbers of German troops for many months. Nuking either or both would have freed up large quantities of Germans for use elsewhere and done so at far less cost.

Soviet nuking of Kiev or Kharkov would have had a negligible effect on the Germans say 20k-40k killed and wounded. But there are many more German coming behind them. The same would go when the roles reversed. Dead and wounded would only be a small part of the invading soviet forces, and it would not stop the invasion. After the first blast, the attacker will turn each and every city into a moonscape with artillery fire. Progress will be slowed, but the outcomes will not change.

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Re: Atomic Weapons Before WW2

Post by T. A. Gardner » 10 Sep 2019 01:48

Volyn wrote:
09 Sep 2019 20:15
So it would seem that a different type of Cold War would ensue instead of a limited nuclear war?
Probably not. You're talking 20 KT bombs or there about. Those are barely city busters. They worked well on Japan because of how dense cities are there.

Play with it here on a modern map of cities and you can see just how relatively ineffective and survivable these would be. They'd be seen as little more than a bigger, bader, conventional bomb.

https://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/

The real question is How many can each country produce and in what timeframe? Uranium bombs require massive and very expensive enrichment equipment to make and you'll never have more than a few simply because the amount of U234 / 235 is so small. You need tons upon tons of ore to get enough enriched material to make one bomb, and that process can take years. The US using just enriched uranium for bombs might have gotten 6 to 8 at most from their program. That's how hard it is to do.

The alternative is Plutonium. It was discovered at the end of 1940 in the US and the government immediately classified it secret. They kept knowledge of it from their allies during the war for example. If this remains the case, then the US alone has the option of building graphite moderated fast fission reactors to make lots of Plutonium. That makes mass producing bombs possible and cost effective. This made it possible to make as many as half a dozen bombs a month once production was in full swing.
The Trinity test was done only because getting Plutonium to detonate requires the complex explosion-compression method rather than a simple donut-bullet type bomb like the Hiroshima bomb was. Trinity was a test shot with a plutonium bomb to prove the method would actually work. There was no test of the Hiroshima uranium bomb. The engineers and scientists knew it would work.

This question needs to be answered to have some idea how each country might use their available bombs, not to mention how they'd see other countries with bombs. Knowing you have say 6 uranium bombs and thinking your opponent can't have many more and possibly less, is a totally different picture from knowing you have 6 uranium bombs and might get 1 or 2 a year more, while your opponent is building 6 plutonium bombs a month (which you might think are just uranium bombs but your opponent has more capacity to make them).

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Re: Atomic Weapons Before WW2

Post by Volyn » 10 Sep 2019 03:18

T. A. Gardner wrote:
10 Sep 2019 01:48
The real question is How many can each country produce and in what timeframe?
Thanks for the link!

Your explanation about the bombs puts into perspective what they were dealing with. I thought a good starting point with a dozen bombs for everyone would be enough for use, but not enough to overwhelm any particular side. Let's assume that during the 1930's these 4 nations were able to build a small arsenal of uranium based devices that cannot be replenished quickly, and they are too large to mount to any aircraft for the time. How would each regime make the decision to employ them, and what type of conditions would they consider for use?

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Re: Atomic Weapons Before WW2

Post by Takao » 11 Sep 2019 12:24

The only A-Bomb that could not be carried by an aircraft at the time was the Plutonium gun type "Thin Man" - not even in 1945 - as the length of the gun barrel would be too long to fit on any aircraft built or projected. Which is why the design was dropped in 1944, and focus shifted to the implosion type Gadget/Fat Man design.

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Re: Atomic Weapons Before WW2

Post by paulrward » 11 Sep 2019 19:40

Hello All :

Mr. Takao Stated :
The only A-Bomb that could not be carried by an aircraft at the time was the Plutonium gun type "Thin Man" - not even in 1945 - as the length of the gun barrel would be too long to fit on any aircraft built or projected. Which is why the design was dropped in 1944, and focus shifted to the implosion type Gadget/Fat Man design.

To Mr. Takao ;

Actually, this is not quite correct. The test dummies for the Thin Man were carried by a B-29, and were dropped a number of times with varying accuracy and the occasional mechanical hiccup. Admittedly, this would have been a more risky weapon for the aircrew, but with a few mods on the belly of the B-29, could have been carried quite well to any target in Japan.

However, the flaw with the Thin Man was that the original calculations for the Plutonium Gun bomb were made based on the relative isotopic makeup of Plutonium derived from Cyclotronic Enrichment. When the first Plutonium came out of Hanford, it was found that it was too rich in Pu240, which would theoretically increase the likelihood of a premature detonation. In effect, the Pu240 would begin the fission process before the optimum critical mass had been reached, tearing the bomb apart and giving an explosive yield, not of 20 kilotons, but more on the order of 40 tons of TNT. While this would be a big blast, it wasn't what Oppenheimer and Groves were working to achieve.

Some post war research has indicated that a Plutonium Gun Bomb, with some slight changes from the original design, might be effective, but since the work to develop the explosive lens had already been completed, and a small, spherical bomb is easier to carry and drop than a big, long 8" gun barrel, it was never pursued. At least in the U.S. It must be noted, however, that enriched Plutonium is easy to make, and a Third World Nation, with limited resources, might choose this path as that of least resistance.

With any luck, this thought will keep you awake tonight.

Respecfully :

Paul R. Ward


Note: The Manhattan Project was concerned with premature detonation. Well, we've all been there, once or twice, right ?

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