Bob Wiringa, Argonne Physics Division
Manhattan and the B-29
Argonne Physics Division Seminar - 10 Jan 2011

The first statement in the Los Alamos Primer, the lectures given by Robert Serber to early arrivals at Los Alamos, is the objective of the Manhattan Project: "to produce a practical military weapon in the form of a bomb in which the energy is released by a fast neutron chain reaction in one or more of the materials known to show nuclear fission." This talk will present material acquired at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, where the restored B-29 'Enola Gay' is now on display. The material reviews aspects of the Manhattan Project with emphasis on the delivery system: the B-29 Superfortress.

A book list for suggested reading relevant to this seminar:

The Making of the Atomic Bomb
Richard Rhodes
(Best overall history of the Manhattan Project, including early nuclear physics work before WWII)

Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb
Richard Rhodes
(Covers US postwar reasearch up to the hydrogen bomb, and also Soviet espionage of the US program)

Stalin & The Bomb
David Holloway
(The Soviet bomb program, including some very innovative work like the "layer cake"; also espionage of the US program)

Atomic Energy for Military Purposes
Henry DeWolf Smyth
(An official report released in September 1945 with a surprising amount of detail about the Manhattan Project)

Now It Can Be Told
Gen. Leslie R. Groves
(Memoirs with a lot of fascinating detail; the overall responsibilities he carried were mind-boggling)

Critical Assembly
Lillian Hoddeson, Paul W. Henriksen, Roger A. Meade, and Catherine Westfall
(A very detailed technical history of the work at Los Alamos, including the tremendous amount of experimental testing)

The Los Alamos Primer
Robert Serber
(Annotated lectures delivered by Serber to early arrivals at Los Alamos which detail the theoretical issues in building the bomb)

Manhattan: The Army and the Atomic Bomb
Vincent C. Jones
(Official Army history really conveys the scale of the engineering work involved, including building Oak Ridge, Hanford, & Los Alamos)

Britain and Atomic Energy 1939-1945
Margaret Gowing
(Official British history of their atomic work, including the Frisch-Peierls memorandum and the Maud reports)

Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire
Richard B. Frank
(Excellent history of the last year of the war, the B-29 raids, the diplomatic maneuvering, & discussions in the Japanese war cabinet)

Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45
Max Hastings
(Another good history of the final year of the Pacific War, with more emphasis on the war in China and Southeast Asia)

Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Steve Pace
(An aircraft enthusiast's book with many photographs of the planes, including the Tupolev Tu-4 knockoff)

Enola Gay
Norman Polmar
(Small museum booklet with short history and good photos of the airplane)

Argonne Physics Division Seminar Schedule