Warbirds and Airshows
By David D Jackson

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University of Chicago, IL   Oak Ridge, TN   Los Alamos, NM   Trinity Site, NM

  Historic Manhattan Project Sites

There are five significant locations for the WWII Manhattan Project that were of major importance in the development of the atomic bombs used by the US to end the war. The Manhattan Project was the second most expensive project but the most secret for the United States during WWII, with B-29 project which would provide the aircraft that delivered the atomic bombs in August 1945 being the most expensive. 

But it is interesting to note that this may or may not have happened if nuclear physicist Leo Szilard had not read HG Wells' 1913 science fiction book "The World Set Free" which is the story of a world at war where the opponents are dropping atomic bombs on each other from bi-wing aircraft.  Wells was very astute when reading Ernest Rutherford's 1911 theory on the makeup of the atom and then being able to visualize atomic bombs made out of uranium or thorium.  All of this was all on the eve of what HG Wells in a 1921 forward to the book calls and was known at that time as The Great War, or we know as today as WWI.  WWI introduced aerial warfare and it had not really been used up to this point in time but Wells was also able to foresee the airplane used as an instrument of war to drop atomic devices.  Also he was of the opinion that it was take until 1956 for scientists to perfect an atomic bomb which is the year "The World Set Free" takes place in, which was only 11 years longer than it actually took.

In any event Leo Szilard read "The World Set Free" in 1932 and then in September of 1933 after reading an article in a London newspaper about the continuing work of Rutherford and other came to the realization while crossing a London street that a continuous nuclear chain reaction would be feasible if only he could find an element that would produce two neutrons from its atom for each neutron that struck it.  In Section 8 of "The World Set Free" HG Wells mentions uranium, which along with the thorium he also mentions, meet this criteria.

"The World Set Free" is not usually found at the local bookstore as it is one of HG Well's less popular and more obscure books, as opposed the "The War of the Worlds" which is probably his most popular and most famous.  However, it can be, like just about everything else one needs, purchased from Amazon.  For the historian this along with Richard Rhodes' "The Making of the Atomic Bomb are must reading.

  • University of Chicago, Chicago, IL - The location of the world's first controlled nuclear reaction.  This occurred under the football stadium, Stagg Field, in a squash court.  The football field has long since been torn down and is now the location of the university library.  There is a sculpture and plaques along Ellis Avenue in front of the library.

  • Oakridge, TN - This was one of three "secret" cities built as part of the Manhattan Project.  Most of the experimental work was done here, along with building the first continuous running nuclear reactor that was also a prototype of production reactors then build in Hanford, WA to produce bomb grade plutonium.  Oakridge produced the uranium for the Hiroshima bomb.

  • Los Alamos, NM - The second "secret" city built north of Albuquerque for the building the bombs.

  • Hanford, WA  - The third "secret" city built to produce weapons grade plutonium and produced enough for the Trinity Site Test Explosion and the Nagasaki bomb and is the only location I have not visited. Because of it being the producer of all of the plutonium for all of the post WWII US nuclear bombs it is now in the midst of a long term clean up and is an environmental disaster and is the most contaminated site in the country with as of February 2013 six underground storage tanks leaking radioactive waste.  In 2012 sixty guided tours were given from April through September and the 2013 schedule is supposed to be released in February of 2013.  It will be interesting to see if the DOE can continue with the tours due to the leakage issues or because of the federal budget cuts effective March 2013.

  • Trinity Site, NM - This is located within the confines of White Sands Missile Test Range and can only be visited twice a year.  It is the location of the world's first atomic explosion.

University of Chicago, IL   Oak Ridge, TN   Los Alamos, NM   Trinity Site, NM
 

 


 
Home  Indiana Museums    Indiana Tanks on Outside Display   The Beginning    Revisions   First Flight of P-38F Glacier Girl  
USS Theodore Roosevelt    WWII Aircraft Manufacturing Sites    Gateguards
 2007 Airshows   2008 Airshows  22009 Airshows   2010 Airshows    2011 Airshows    2012 Airshows   2013 Airshows   2014 Airshows    2015 Airshows  2016 Airshows  
Aviation Museums of the Pacific Northwest
   Display Helicopter Locations   CAL FIRE   PV-2 Harpoon Photos     F6F Hellcat Photos
   Warbird Sightings   WWII US Air-Air Victories   Guest Photos    Indiana Warbirds   Featured Photos  Other Items   Links

Historic Sites   Historic Forts   Historic Texas Independence Sites   Pre-Historic Sites   Historic Manhattan Project Sites   GM Heritage Center


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