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Chrysler Corporation helps to build the atomic bomb (A-bomb)


Plymouth cars at the atomic bomb siteImpatient people who just want to read Chrysler's role can skip down here.


Most of us are aware of a country's need to maintain secrets. In general, those facts are protected by laws which establish a hierarchy of the levels of protection deemed applicable to the information.

The first step are items marked "CONFIDENTIAL." Applied to information that the unauthorized disclosure of could reasonably expected to cause damage to national security.

The next step up is "SECRET." Unauthorized disclosure could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security.

The top rung is "TOP SECRET." Unauthorized disclosure of top secret materials or information could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.

There is however, other tiers of protection beyond which the public would not be familiar with. Such ultra sensitive items go beyond the pale of even Top Secret. These enter into a whole different spectrum of protection. They are either an SCI or Sensitive Compartmented Information or Special Access Programs, SAP. Individuals would need very special clearances with extraordinary protective measures to access these materials.

EYES ONLY can be applied within the scope of an SAP or an SCI. This was relatively a new application in the period this article covers. Few programs fell within the need to given this heightened level of protection, because we were not actively engaged in programs of such measures of secrecy and because placement of a designation like this evokes high costs to enforce and oversee it. Sometimes information can be so compartmentalized that even the President of the United States would be denied access to it!

The United States of America was deep in the throes of an economic nightmare called "Depression" in the mid and late 1930s; it had gone worldwide, affecting every economy in every country in the entire planet. The promised end to this ill had not been truly effective as had been promised by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Essentially, he had been stymied in a manner by the Supreme Court which negated a lot of the legislation FDR sought to help the economy grow.

nuclear bombAll levels of the government had been cut way back, and doldrums had set in, including that of the highest office, the President himself. After his 1937 failure to enlist the co-operation of Congress in enacting legislation that would have changed the make up of the Supreme Court (he wanted to pack it up to 15 members from the current 9), FDR didn't really do much else within his second term. The Depression lingered on, seemingly without end. No one had the courage to think or even mention how a good war would solve the ugly economic situation. He was well aware of the menace presented by Hitler and Italy's Mussolini, but had backed himself into a political box by running on the platform, for his second term, that he would not bring the United States into any foreign war. He did act by helping his old friend in Great Britain, making some obsolete military equipment available for "lending."

(There are assertions that between Churchill and FDR open discussions for war were held. Not just because of the threat of their enemies, but as a means to end economic woes. Nothing of substance has ever been uncovered to underscore these allegations, but the drumbeat about it, like an untested theory, goes on.)

No one in the military, at the time, spoke up on whether they agreed with the orders they received to transfer old stuff over. Such was the state of the country back then. We had the world's 24th rated air power. Our Army was a bit higher, coming in as the 7th best in the world. The Navy was considered as a 5th ranked projection of sea power.

Within the military itself, rank was hidebound. Promotions were agonizingly slow. Because there were no civilian employment situations to escape to, people stayed on. After all, it was a job, and paid money. It offered the safety of medical and dental benefits not offered anywhere else. Planning was more concerned with correct placement of napkins at the officer's club dinners than for war. Not all, of course, were blinded by devotion to rank. Some did clearly see that duty was their true mission, but lack of funding prevented anything much more than writing out ideas into reams of notes that would never be seen by anyone.

There was no constitutional bar back then to prevent a president from serving more than two terms. It had been sort of a tradition which had been set by George Washington, the country's first president to serve only two terms. So, in the years of 1938, into 1939, everyone was just waiting for FDR to pack in it, as a "lame duck."

The ill effects of the world wide depression directly led to the rise to power of the German Nationalists, the Nazis, and their leader, Adolf Hitler. His persecution of the Jews, foremost, led to the United States’ acquisition (albeit by default and not design) of some of the greatest minds in the world.

One of those great minds was Albert Einstein. There is absolutely no way that I could cover all of the life of this man on these pages. Numerous biographies exist that put out materials about this man's life. A good synopsis can be had on Wikipedia. In August 1939, Einstein, along with a former student, Leo Szilard, drafted a letter to President Roosevelt suggesting that a process of splitting of uranium atoms could set off a chain reaction which could result in a powerful new bomb. (Albert Einstein's letter is part of a collection in a national museum.) Their impetus for this effort was the knowledge that Germany had already begun their quest to have this new power and to use it against her enemies.

At the time, only Szilard had a true concept of what constituted an atomic splitting. He applied the nomenclature to it as "fission," as he had only recently learned that term, from Swedish physicist Neils Bohr.

To gain even a useful insight into the making of the atomic bomb would entail a huge effort encompassing all the personalities involved. That is the important thing to remember in all of this.

People are just human beings, no matter what they accomplish in life. Albert Einstein's personal life reads like a soap opera. No matter his mental ability, and the accomplishments he made, he still was human, and had a life outside the theories he wrote. He among all the others involved as well. Each was human, each had life, and each made mistakes, some of them heart wrenching ones. Loves, trysts, divorce, abandonment, cruelty, triumphs, failures, money, power, position, and all of the assorted human frailties apply, yes, even to people like Albert Einstein, Leo Szilard, General Leslie Groves, Robert Oppenhiemer, and Franklin Roosevelt too.

It becomes a story of people, some not quite so ordinary, but people nevertheless, of ordinary means thrown into extraordinary circumstances. Some rise to the occasion, while others, (they are very few believe it or not) do not. I shall try to include a very small capsule of each person of note to set the tone for the build up that eventually ended up as an engineering problem at the Chrysler Corporation.

In that is a story onto its self. Chrysler not only became a major industrial contributor in the making of the actual bomb, it was also a major player in the making of the delivery system as well. Seven of the eight engines that powered the B-29s that took the weapons to Japan were built by Chrysler.

The Atomic Bomb itself is no real great mystery. Its principles can be understood by any one that chooses to sit and listen for a few moments. How man harnessed this energy into a fission is the story.

The story of course would have its start in the beginning when all things were created. Only by investigation over years did the gleanings of something like a special energy be recorded, then the news of the results spread to the many scientists working on projects world wide.

A German, William Roentgen, discovered x-rays in 1895 when he was bombarding substances with high energy electrons. By placing a photographic plate in front of an electron tube he was able to x-ray images of his wife's hand.

About a year later, in March 1896, a French scientist, Antoine Becquerel, discovered a phenomenon that he couldn't account for. He was engaged in further experimentations upon x-rays. One evening he placed his photograph plates in a drawer with a few crystals of uranium salts. The next morning he found that the plate had been developed.

Pupils of Becquerel, Marie and Pierre Curie, discovered radium in 1898, the first known radioactive element; it is always present in uranium. Marie Curie was the first woman awarded a Doctorate degree. She and her husband received the Nobel Prize in 1903. Pierre was killed in an accident in 1906. Marie continued on with her research and received a second Nobel Prize in 1911. She survived World War I and saw her daughter receive the 1934 Nobel Prize. It was her unrelenting devotion to research with pitchblende, which is uranium ore, along with her extensive work with radium that lead to further developments in the atom.

One of the properties of uranium is that when it decays it turns into lead through the radium present. This process is excruciatingly long. Lead as a compound is no different than lead created by the decay of uranium. Yet, the uranium derived lead is chemically lighter than the lead compound. Science deduced that it could be no less than the breaking down of the basic elements in nature. It stood the world of physics on its collective head. Such elements were thought of, until then, as being unchangeable, and unchanging.

Exposure to radium is dangerous to human flesh and bones, and this is thought to have been the eventual cause of Marie Curie's death. However, in nature the radium that we might be exposed to is such that a tiny one gram would take 100 years to give off enough energy to boil a small amount of water. No one would think of trying to harness such a small feeble force.

Setting out to discover the reason for such actions, early in 1900, a British physicist, J. J. Thompson, discovered that the atom, then thought to be the smallest of all things in the elements, actually had a smaller particle which he identified as an electron. The word "Atom" comes from the Greek root word meaning "indivisible" and that went on being taught for years, in that the atom was not divisible.

In 1905, Albert Einstein , then in Switzerland, after having denounced his Prussian citizenship, published four different papers, one of which was the revolutionary assertion that all mass is energy, and all energy is mass. He summarized it via the equation E=MC. It still leads the physicists today. Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921. Ostensibly the award was based upon his quantum theory that light speed is relative, however, privately, the Nobel Committee had admitted that Einstein was probably right in his energy mass equations.

While he garnered numerous other awards, a mass of honorary degrees, and had several teaching positions, he had his best year in 1905. Coming to America in 1932 to accept an assistant professorship at Princeton in New Jersey, he learned that Hitler had come to power in Germany. Einstein had moved to Berlin in 1914, reacquired his Prussian citizenship, and was a professor at the Berlin Institute (though he still professed to dislike Germany, it was the center of science at the time). He had planned to travel back and forth between the two professorships, rotating every 6 months. While in New Jersey, he learned that the Hitler Brown Shirts had broken into his Berlin house, and ransacked it thoroughly, searching for anything that would lend credence to their assertions that he was a Jewish enemy of the state. What they couldn't take, they broke, leaving the house wide open. Eventually the house was destroyed. Horrified, Einstein sailed to Europe, taking up a temporary stop in Belgium. He learned of the persecution inflicted upon Jews, coming to haunt him directly when close members of his family were razed, and managed to narrowly escape the death trains, based upon their Austrian passports. Still Einstein stayed in Belgium, on the thin belief that the people would come to their senses and Hitler would be sent away. Friends were scared for him, fearing that the German Secret Police would send agents to secretly whisk him off into the night. However, the Civil Service Reform Act that Hitler rammed through the Reichstag in 1933 removed all of Einstein's doubt and hope. Anyone that was a Jew, or of Jewish descent, was barred from holding public office in Germany. This included teachers and professors. Einstein sailed back to America, never to return to Germany. 

In 1918, a student of Thompson, Lord Ernest Rutherford of New Zealand, had chipped a fragment from an atom, discovering another particle, which he named as a proton.

In 1932, British physicist Sir James Chadwick discovered the final part of the atom, which he named the neutron.

In 1934, an Italian physicist, Enrico Fermi, began bombarding uranium elements with a stream of neutral particles, the neutrons. Prior to his experiments, scientists had been using positive charges to bombard uranium elements in an effort to smash the atom. Fermi found that by directing his stream through hydrogen (eventually leading to other orders of higher magnitude) he could slow the stream down and hit the core exactly, just like firing a bullet, each and every time. He believed he had created a new element which would be number 93. That was his only intent at that time, to create a new element. However, his experiments created huge excitement all over the scientific community. His method was thought to have smashed the atom, even if he didn't recognize it. Fermi was awarded the Nobel Prize. He traveled to Stockholm with his family in 1938. Based upon the circumstances existing in Italy at the time, given that his wife was a Jew, he elected to not return to Italy. He went to the United States instead, settling in Livonia, New Jersey.

In 1938, after the release of the science papers from Fermi and the Nobel prize, physicists all over the world began experiments in excitement with the hydrogen slow neutron bullets on uranium. In Berlin, at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (which Einstein, Szilard, and other notable physicists had fled from) Otto Hahn, who headed the institute, assigned Dr. Lise Meitner, a Jew, to perform the Fermi experiments and other further research. Hahn intervened enough to protect her momentarily, but it was not enough, and just ahead of the Gestapo, who had issued a warrant for her, Dr. Meitner escaped to Sweden, barely getting across the border, only because she held an Austrian passport. She left with her work unfinished. Being forced to flee also meant leaving a great deal of her personal belongings, as well. Dr. Hahn did continue what she had started, and in 1939 ended up with a new element he named as Barium.

(Editor’s note: the Nazis’ attitude towards research was interesting, because some theories, including relativity, were seen as being unpatriotic and somehow anti-German, the result of “liberal Jewish thinking.” Nazis were also anti-Christian, believing that religion was tainted by Jewish influence.)

Barium presented an all-important path to the atom bomb; but it did not exist in any form in uranium, and isn't even distantly related to uranium, so Dr. Hahn was uncertain about what the results of his experiment meant. He managed to get the entire set of papers forwarded to Dr. Meitner in Sweden. When she read the whole thing through, she was beside herself. To her, it was obvious that the atom had indeed been split. And roughly by half. Because if Barium was a part, it contains 56 protons, which if subtracted from uranium, which has 92 protons, that should leave another substance, krypton which has 36 protons. This was sensational enough, but according to the 1905 Einstein theory, a great burst of energy should have been produced. Rough estimates place such a burst at 200 million electron volts (an electron volt is the amount of energy it would take to move one electron through a potential difference of one volt). This brings us to face the reality of electricity: when you turn on an electric light, millions of electrons start pushing and bumping into one another, passing through the wires and the filament, causing it to glow, moving from one atom to another via the copper wire.

Dr. Meitner discussed the experiments and her conclusions with her nephew, who was visiting her over the 1938 Christmas holidays where she was staying in Sweden. This nephew happened to be Dr. Otto Frisch, an Austrian physicist at the Vienna Institute, and the son in law of Dr. Neils Bohr, who had fled Denmark earlier under the ever expanding cloud of Nazi vilifications of the Jews.

Frisch could hardly contain himself. He knew, as she did, that the atom had been split, they just needed to verify it. He cabled, at great cost, all the experiments and findings to his father in law, Neils Bohr, who was at Princeton University, working with Albert Einstein. The cable reached Dr. Bohr on January 26, 1939.

Bohr immediately contacted Dr. George Pegram, the head of Physics for Columbia University, in the New York City. Together, without knowing the results of Dr. Meitner's full calculations, the men cobbled up some notes on a paper pad. Both of them arrived at the same results independently. They were excited beyond reason. The next day they proved it in the laboratory. Indeed, electric oscilloscopes spiked, some off the scale, when uranium was hit by the slow neutron bullet. Two days later, Dr. Bohr stampeded a news conference, where he reported the whole aspect of the Fermi and Meitner experiments and calculations. Within hours, scores of other laboratories had reported obtaining the same results. Indeed, the atom had been split with the subsequent release of high energy. Einstein had been proved correct, yet, nothing seems to have been recorded as to his reactions concerning his 1905 calculations.

There was just one troubling thing that was apparently missing. If the atom had been split, many high speed neutrons should have been released, with some of those causing other atoms to split, setting off a full chain reaction, like a fast string of firecrackers until the huge big bang explosion happened. Yet, no such chain reaction or explosion had occurred.

Dr. Bohr, along with Dr. J. A. Wheeler of Princeton reasoned that something else was happening inside the uranium target. They recalled that back in 1935, Professor Arthur Dempster of the University of Chicago had discovered that uranium is comprised of three different kinds of atoms. Chemically they are identical. The only difference between them all is the number of neutrons being held by each atom. Professor Dempster, back then labeled the atoms as U-234, U-235, and U-238, which comes from the number of neutrons held by the different atoms. Science refers to these atoms as "isotopes" which comes from the Greek language meaning, "of the same place." In uranium, U-234 is only a trace. U-235 is one part in 140. U-238 then makes up 99% of the atoms in uranium.

Reasoning it out, Dr. Bohr and Professor Wheeler, the only thing that worked is that the U-235 (less than 1% of the uranium) acted as the "fire" that initiated the release, however, the U-238 (most of the other 99%) acts like a suppressant, keeping the fire in check, not allowing for the uncontrolled release of energy.

This was pure deduction.  There would be no way to prove this unless U-235 could be isolated. This had never been done, and it was doubtful that it could ever be done, since U-235 and U-238 were virtually within the same material.

separating uraniumHowever, work like this was already being conducted by a young physicist from the University of Minnesota. He had been granted a rather large sum of $6,000 from Harvard University, receiving a invitation to become a research fellow. He was at Harvard for two years, from 1936 to 1938. During that time, he was able to separate uranium isotopes, U-235 and U-238. Turning down an offer from Harvard to remain, he returned to Minnesota. This was fortunate, because the University bent over backwards to accommodate his every investigation. In 1940, he was responsible for the isolation and separation of isotope U-235, proving that it was responsible for fission of neutrons, including all energy neutrons, of which thermal neutrons were a major part. The pure sample was too small to be seen by the human eye. Working in conjunction with General Electric Laboratories, they were able to produce a slightly larger sample, yet barely more than a speck the size of a dot made by a fine pencil point. The major point is that it proved with no doubts that the deductions of Bohr-Wheeler were absolutely correct. U-235 was the stuff of which an atom bomb could be fashioned.

This was the discovery that became the entire foundation for the "Manhattan Project," the government code name for the manufacturing of the atomic bomb. This is of course where the good people of the Chrysler Corporation come into this story, although not quite just yet.

The story can not be completed without the telling of the government side of things, which, of course, ultimately paid the bills for the entire situation (to the tune of some 3.3 TRILLION dollars, of which the Manhattan Project was a small percentage). Once the flow of money started, it seemed to have no end. It is hard to believe in light of today's budgets that one man had authority to dispense millions of large American dollars in the mid 1940s. Yet that is exactly what happened.

The father of the atomic bomb, who was the real shaker and mover, was Leo Szilard. He was a Jew, born in Hungary, short, plump, eccentric in his habits, who had been a reverent student of Einstein at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. He had been labeled "genius" by Einstein himself, who characterized Szilard as "a man with a mind rich in ideas," that Szilard conceptionalized from a myriad of sources, both of conventional and unconventional. Shortly before he fled for his life from Germany in 1932, he had just read H. G. Wells’ 1913 novel, The World Set Free. Wells had prophesied a world at war through a process called "atomic disintegration" that unleashed a power without limits through a global nuclear war, shattered by the "unquenchable crimson conflagrations of atomic bombs." His own world shattered by the near death threat from the German security forces, Szilard barely made it out. 

Uncharacteristically, as he paid little attention to details, Szilard had packed two suitcases after repeated entreaties from Einstein warning of the danger of remaining in Germany. Informed while he was at work in Berlin that the Brown Shirts were out to get him, Szilard, in absolute sheer terror, ran to his apartment, grabbed the two suitcases, then fled down the street. He was just a couple of minutes ahead of being captured: when he turned down an alley to take a short cut, he watched the Brown Shirts storm the building he had just left. He spent the next hours on the edge of panic, clutching the two suitcases as like life itself, getting out of Germany. He managed to get to Holland, then took a boat over to Great Britain. He spent weeks looking over his shoulder while in England, and moved constantly, always keeping all his belongings in the two suitcases. Even after moving to the United States in 1939), he still kept all his belongings in the two suitcases. He never rented an apartment or owned a car until he finally married his German sweetheart in 1951. He rented rooms or stayed in YMCA locations. Always the bags remained packed. This is the man who envisioned the possibility of atomic fission in his mind.

When Szilard arrived in the United States he telephoned the only number he had, that of Edward Teller in Washington. Without preamble he asked Teller to come for him. Unfazed, Teller did so, in another bit of contribution from Chrysler Corporation, Teller owned a PLYMOUTH. Teller created controversy advocating fusion hydrogen bombs before fission was perfected. He is created with perfecting the thermonuclear "H-Bombs" in the late 1940s

He recalled that the concept hit him while he was in London in 1933. He loved to walk, and was so engaged when the overwhelming scenario came to him. He tried to convince other scientists that it might be possible, however, at the time the atom was considered as being "indivisible." He was labeled "nuts" by Fermi, tossed out of the office of Lord Rutherford, and tolerated by Edward Teller, another Hungarian physicist that befriended Szilard for his "childlike" imaginations and ideas. It was, however, a vision that he could not shake. It later developed into an absolute abject fear motivating him to keep after everyone to get the bomb built.

The reason for that was cemented in his conscious realization that the scientists at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin would certainly follow up on Dr. Hahn's experiments now that fission was a definite fact. Szilard's conclusions proved correct when one of the fellows at the KWI in Berlin wrote the German War Office with an explanation of the newest developments in nuclear physics. Paralyzed with panic, Szilard read repeatedly the statement in the letter that "in our opinion it will be possible to produce an explosive many orders of magnitude more powerful than conventional ones….The country which first makes use of it will have unsurpassable power over the others." Further, within a month, all exports of uranium from German-occupied Czechoslovakia, which had a rice source in a uranium mine were ordered halted.

He convinced another colleague to drive him to see Albert Einstein. Eugene Wigner had learned that Einstein was staying in the Long Island Estate of a friend. (Eugene Wigner drove another small contribution to the war effort from Chrysler Corporation since he owned a Dodge.) It took a few hours to drive out there. In their minds, Einstein personified the very essence of all things relating to science, which coincided with the same impression he held in the general populace. Only those on the inside of physics knew the truth. Einstein was then 60 years old, and had long isolated himself from the mainstream of physics and his profession. He didn't even bother reading any of the myriad of free science journals or magazines that were sent to him. He confided in a friend that the people at Princeton considered him "an old fool." In that light, on that July day in 1939, when he was called upon by Szilard and Wigner, he had absolutely no conception of the advances lately made in physics.

Once briefed, Einstein grasped the concept instantly. He later admitted privately that the thought of nuclear fission "had never occurred to him." Einstein then dictated a letter that Wigner wrote down in long hand. It required being typed, along with another trip back to see Einstein to have him sign the typewritten piece. *

Thus began the long frustrating, path to the final episode when the U-235 bomb exploded over Hiroshima in 1945. Szilard found trouble in just getting the letter to the right person to get it to the President. He had already tried to interest the military and had been politely rebuffed by the Army and Navy. It took until October 11, 1939 for the letter to be hand delivered to FDR. The courier was not even a diplomat or a military person. It was a personal advisor to FDR on economics, Edward Sachs.

Seemingly interested, Roosevelt called in his personal assistant, General Edwin Watson. FDR like to assign nicknames to everyone close to him, and General Watson went by the moniker "Pa." Handing Einstein's letter to Watson, Roosevelt purportedly told him that "this requires action." A committee was formed, designated as the "Uranium Committee" which showed the lack of imagination as well as a dire lack of any sort of conception of the potential of nuclear power. Headed by a career bureaucrat of 43 years government service, Dr. Lyman Briggs was 65 years old in 1939. He was head of the Bureau of Standards after slowly working his way up from the Department of Agriculture, studying soil.

The first meeting was upsetting for all around. Dr. Briggs didn't care for foreigners, especially ones with "high falutin' ideas" with designs on his thin budget. He also had no conception of what comprised nuclear fission. It all sounded like a science fiction story to him, and he didn't like them either. Szilard presented his case for the purchase of graphite to build a chamber to produce a chain reaction. Briggs said nothing. An Army Colonel spoke out and said he had no belief in "new fangled contraptions." When asked how much Szilard might require, he replied “about $6,000.” Secretly, Briggs was relieved. It wasn't as large an outlay as he expected. He authorized the expenditure, if for nothing more than to get the noisy, pushy foreigners out of his office and out of his hair. Szilard was informed by the Army Colonel, after a lecture about use of public funds, that he would get his requested six thousand dollars. It took some chicanery on Szilard's part, but in February 1942, the money finally arrived.

Szilard became increasingly more and more alarmed, not only due to the lack of urgency displayed by the Uranium Committee, but the declaration of war, and the Nazi Blitzkrieg then galloping across Europe.  Szilard had reason to be concerned. No one seemed to be paying attention, especially the American military establishment. Just to give everyone an idea, the engine that would later power the B-29 that carried the weapons to Japan had been authorized, built and was under test since 1936! No money could be had for production. Initial studies for a "super bomber" which would become the B-29 were proposed by Boeing Company to the U S Army in early 1938! Encouraged by a couple of army staff members, Boeing continued the study with its own money!

Into this environment then, came a bunch of scientists, some of them out rightly weird in their actions, trying to convince hide-bound militarists and rank conscious officers along with strictly conventional bureaucrats that they could build a super weapon. The stage thus set, we will attempt to move this along to the fateful day that Chrysler Corporation became involved in this atomic fission.

On September 1, 1939, Hitler sent his military forces across the border into Poland. It was a brutality unlike anything single war in history, combining, air power, armored tanks, artillery, motorized infantry, and a support system that saw to every conceivable military need. Poland's allies, Great Britain, France, Australia, and New Zealand, declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. It was more a war on paper than an effort to meet the German advance head on. The complete conquest of Poland took all of 26 days.

Expecting the Unites States to help out Great Britain, Szilard was nearly crippled with grief when President Roosevelt declared on September 5, 1939, that the country was officially "neutral" in regards to the "European War." This did tie FDR's hands because under the Neutrality act, a nation cannot engage in trade with a combatant for aid in war materials. FDR had also blundered in his 1938 re-election efforts by campaigning against a great many of his fellow Democrats that had not supported his efforts to "pack" the Supreme Court. Unfortunately for him, many still got re-elected, making his legislative efforts that much more difficult. FDR did state upon the Neutrality declaration that he "did not expect that this country could long remain on the side of such an act." He began at once, efforts to amend the laws that were binding him.

On September 10, 1939, Canada officially declared that she was with war on Germany. This begins what was termed the "phony war" because nothing really in the way of exchanges of arms was taking place between the combatants.

That the invasion of Poland provoked such a response is a wonder in itself. The world watched while Hitler declared Austria as "Ostmark," a province of Germany, in 1938. Great Britain's Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain flew back and forth to Berlin. His treaty became the source of much shame, and derision at home, labeling him forever as the "appeaser," ruining his political reputation. Based upon the treaty, Hitler then made known, publicly, plans that he had made in 1937, demanding further concessions in acquisition of the Czechoslovakian area known as the Sudetenland, largely populated with German peoples. On October 15, 1938, his troops marched in and occupied that area. The entire Czech government resigned. By March 16 1939, the Nazis had taken over the entire country, without firing a single shot. No one did anything.

In August 1938 while mobilizing the entire military force of Germany, Hitler's Chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goring, warned all the Jews in Austria, numbering about 220,000, to "get out now." On January 30, 1939, Hitler openly threatened all Jews, setting forth is "the final solution" for the "Jewish question." Einstein, Wigner, Meitner, Bohrs, Fermi, Szilard and many other European scientists of Jewish descent were well acquainted with Hitler and his intent. They also believed that Germany was actively engaged in producing the first atomic weapon, and had a good full year head start on anything they had.

The phony war ended when Germany attacked Finland at the end of November 1939. Finland fell on March 12, 1940. Turning quickly, Hitler attacked Denmark and Norway on April 9, 1940. They fell easily [editor’s note: but put up considerable resistance to the occupation, tying down German troops and resources. As John Steinbeck said, the Germans realized that they were the flies who had conquered the flypaper!].

On May 10, 1940 Hitler invaded France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. At the same time, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in England. Franklin Roosevelt had decided to run for an unprecedented third term as President. The Democratic Party sided with him based upon impending war, feeling that it would be far more secure having a well trained chief executive in the White House, rather than having to train a new one.

It was the actual fall of France that seemingly galvanized the entire world that there was a big war going on. France had built a huge defense line, the Maginot Line, full of bunkers, tank busters, underground facilities, man traps, and other defensive measure, that was supposed to be impenetrable. Hitler just went around it. On June 22, 1940, it was all over. France surrendered.

In the meantime, Einstein, again at the prodding of Szilard, had written Roosevelt another letter in April 1940, strongly expressing his concerns. Roosevelt reacted to that by replacing the Uranium Committee with the Office of Scientific Research and Development. He appointed highly respected Dr. Vannevar Bush as the head of the department. They took over all research about fission and atomic energy, imposing a voluntary censorship about any activities in that regard. Word had reached intelligence services that Japan was engaged in research meant to create a bomb of its own. In the Summer, British Commandos had raided a heavy water plant in Norway on two different occasions. Scientists knew the implications of a facility engaged in manufacturing heavy water, because that is a compound of hydrogen, such as was used by Fermi in his experiments to slow the neutrons.

The race to isolate U-235 was full on. Two different teams on either coast of the United States discovered a new element. Both teams, one at Berkeley and the other at Cambridge found that when the bombarded uranium with neutrons from deuteron, which are atoms of heavy hydrogen, they produced plutonium, after neptunium, which was another new element.

There are other elements that are fissionable, of course. However, the importance and singular fixation upon U-235 and plutonium is that they have hair triggers. They Instantaneously release their neutrons at once. That is what was needed to produce an atomic chain reaction, and subsequent powerful explosive situation.

Up until September 1942, the American military had a sort of associate role in the making of the atomic bomb. Increasingly, a loose network of scientists from all over the country were being engaged in the various projects that were hoped to culminate in America having the bomb first. However, for various reasons the overall lead to head the project never seemed to rise out of the collective groups. They all clamored for attention and a share of funding for their particular interests.

To demonstrate that it was feasible to have a chain reaction, a reactor that could be controlled had to be built. Szilard and Fermi had plans for such a "pile" as they called it, based upon bricks made of pure graphite. Szilard had finally been given a job at Columbia in November 1940. Just a month earlier in an effort to bring all the nuclear research together, Dr. Arthur Compton of the University of Chicago had been asked to review all of the research then on going for the government. He had met with Dr. Ernest Lawrence of Berkeley University in California, part of the team that had discovered plutonium. Dr. Compton had easily agreed that plutonium should also be used for the fuel for a nuclear device.

More fiddling went on for months, with various projects and research being handed out piece meal. Finally on October 9, 1941, about two months from war, Dr. Bush, head of the Atomic Committee, met with Vice President Wallace and Franklin Roosevelt. Hitler's armies were then 25 miles from Moscow, and it looked like for all the world that Russia would fall. Roosevelt wanted to know, what had been done to advance the device that could end the war. Dr. Bush laid out his plans. Without hesitation, FDR gave him all the funding that he asked for, although that amount is not known since it was out of the Presidential emergency funds, and not subject to oversight. FDR gave the orders. Research and Development was now to be pushed to the limit. Henceforth only Roosevelt, Vice President Wallace, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, and Chief of Staff George Marshall were to know about project S-1. Outside of those named people no one else was to know about the all out effort now to make the bomb.

In November 1941, Franklin Roosevelt won his third term as President of the United States.

Gathering information, a meeting was held on December 6, 1941 (one day before war) when the order was finalized for Professor Compton at Chicago to proceed with the bomb design. Out at Berkeley, a brilliant professor was recruited to assist in the project, J. Robert Oppenheimer, well spoken of by Dr. Lawrence. Oppenheimer had calculated that perhaps 100 kilograms of pure U-235 would be needed to make the bomb work. That excited everyone, because they really had no conception of how much it might take. Since neither U-235 nor plutonium was even available yet, it was a wide open guess in any event.

The next day, December 7, 1941, the military forces of the Empire of Japan attacked the huge naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On December 8, 1941, President Roosevelt asked for and was given a full Congressional Declaration of War against Japan. Three days later, he asked for and got a Declaration of War on Germany and Italy, as Japan's ally.

Things changed swiftly after that. Congress voted huge funding mandates for the military. Hidden among some of those appropriations were "blind" funds. Millions of dollars were set aside for things that no one knew what they were about. Congress wasn't in the mood, exactly, to raise questions. So many things needing fixing, or fulfillment. Roosevelt had huge items on his plate, chief among them was to get assistance to his old friend in Great Britain, Winston Churchill. The atom bomb didn't get lost in the shuffle, however, it didn't rise to the top of the "to do" list.

Again, the stumbling along of the S-1 project was not satisfactory. Finally, after some push back from the British, Roosevelt had made a fateful decision. The S-1 needed leadership, and since it was going to be culminating in a weapon, then the military would be put in charge. Secretive feelers were put out to find someone that could take the project from it inept wanderings to fruition when the bomb dropped on the enemy.

Leslie R. Groves was a Colonel in the Engineering Corps. In August 1942, he had been elated to learn that he had been finally given a combat assignment. He was 46 years old at the time, one of the oldest Colonels in the military. He had been worried that he would never make General. Now with war, and the combat assignment he needed to give him a profile, he felt that his visibility would be full enough for a few more promotions.

Groves was a severe man. He was the son of a strict Presbyterian Army Chaplain, Groves learned early the virtues of discipline and self control. Groves led a life based upon black and white values. He was harsh, strict in extremes, tended to be a bully, self confident, an extreme hard worker, and possessed a great mind, as evidenced by his PhD in engineering that had taken him 10 years to obtain, based on his 10 year stretch as a poorly paid Lieutenant. However, now he was Chief of all Army Construction, and was just finishing up one of the most highly visible projects in the military history to that point. He had built the Pentagon, an accomplishment to be reckoned with, no doubt landing him his combat assignment. Everything else in his career was in place, including graduation from the prestigious War College. No one ever got to be a General without that credential in their folio. So this combat assignment was sorely needed.

Groves was not very well liked. Most labeled him the greatest SOB that they ever encountered. He was fat, constantly fighting the weight battle between 250 and 300 pounds. Tact was never his strong point.

He was informed that his combat command had been cancelled, and was stunned. He was informed that the Secretary of War had personally selected him for a very important assignment. In Washington. Groves was dumbfounded. When informed that if he did the job right, it would win the war, Groves knew exactly what it was. He was just finishing up the Pentagon where he was authorizing spending in the amount of six million a month, totaling over 600 million for the building, and now he was being shunted off to something that rumors had would cost no more than $100 million. He was then told he would be promoted to Brigadier General if he took the job. He had gotten his first star. Mollified, he dove into the assignment. He met that day with the current engineer in charge. The office that had the lead in the project was in New York, hence the name had been coded as the "Manhattan Engineering District." Groves elected to shorten it to the "Manhattan Project."

It was at that meeting the Groves learned just how horrible the assignment truly was. The Lt. Colonel who briefed him, knew Groves, so he pulled no punches. It was a mess. There was no uranium, nor had any supplies for it been acquired. There were no plants, with all the funding being held in abeyance. There were no plans on the size of those plants anyway since no one really knew what they might entail. There was no production equipment, and no one had really solidified whether they could make U-235 or plutonium, since they weren't sure if they were solids, gases, or electric. The scientists’ ideas were based far too much on dreams and not concepts that could be turned into real things. The whole endeavor at that point was founded on possibilities, rather than probabilities.

General Groves had no earthly idea that what he had just been assigned would end up being one of the most expensive projects of the war. Groves set the pace immediately.

The day after he secured his promotion to Brigadier General, September 18, 1942, he had found a source of uranium in Canada. Tons of ore, pitchblende, would eventually be shipped to two different places in the United States, based on his authority alone. On September 24, 1942, he was in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of the sites that had tentatively been selected to refine U-235 and plutonium out of pitchblende ore. 

The push was on. Oak Ridge was located in a 24 mile long valley. Population was about 350 people. Groves like it because it had decent highways, railroads, plenty of cheap electricity, would be easy to protect, the population was scarce, and there was a large river available.

When he gave the go ahead to build the plant that would eventually mass produce U-235, he had no idea that he was about to spend $512,000,000 on one plant alone to make it all work. It was a gamble as sure as shooting dice in a craps game. The $512 million amounted to about 1/3 of the total for Oak Ridge facilities when it was all tallied up.

Groves was then faced with the situation for producing plutonium. It was pointed out that it would be extremely dangerous to have both plants in the same area. Security notwithstanding, if an accident should occur, both could combine to be the worst earth disaster in mankind's existence. Groves looked elsewhere for a spot to make plutonium. He located just such an area that he liked near Hannaford Washington. It was hundreds of square miles of nothing. Groves bought 1,000 square MILES of land for the Hannaford facility.

At Oak Ridge, once the go-ahead had been given, it was a marvel of engineering acumen, security, employment, housing, services, and compartmentalized secrecy at its utmost. People who were there from the beginning were daily stunned at the intricate pattern of construction, and unbelievable pace. Much experience of concentrated fast construction had been gained by General Groves with the huge push by General Marshall to get the Pentagon built, which was done also in record time.

Houses had been designed from modular kits. Not just one would go up overnight, whole streets would be erected, literally set for move in readiness! No one had seen anything like this before or since. Barracks, housing up to 540 personnel, completed in three days, ready for complete service and occupation. Streets that were vital to movement of equipment were cut, laid out, curbed, and paved as much as two miles every 24 hours. The huge gaseous diffusion plant, which Chrysler built the diffusers for, grew from the ground like a mushroom at a pace that went around the clock.

General Groves seemed to be everywhere, and he choose his key personnel carefully. Vital supplies were ram-rodded from wherever they could be had, without any interruption in their use at Oak Ridge. When any objections were raised, they were silenced by either money or threat of government investigations by federal agents. National Security became a byword, and the key that opened each and every door. Groves didn't hesitate to wield it as he saw fit. If something was needed, and it wasn't available, then it was built at Oak Ridge, no cost hampers either. Government agents swarmed the area, conducting background investigations on personnel. Soon the checks overwhelmed them, when at the height of utilization at Oak Ridge meant some 75,000 personnel, far up from the entire population of the area of 2,700. In less than one year, Oak Ridge became the State of Tennessee’s fifth largest city. Yet, you could not find it on any map. Its location was secret, and blanked out. All references to it were forbidden. People were told that they were in the "secret city." Small security related leaks may have occurred, but nothing of consequence ever breached the security or secrecy of the place. Lack of security breach was a good example of "EYES ONLY" CAP security program that was extremely well executed.

Chrysler is called in

Chrysler diffuser plant for atomic bombThe gaseous plant construction had begun before the problem which Chrysler had been called to solve was fixed. A trailer was placed on the acquired Oak Ridge property on July 3, 1943. Ground was broken for the diffuser plant in September 1943. General Groves gambled courageously on the outcome of the situation presented to Chrysler Corporation, believing it was an engineering problem, not a scientific one, and he wanted an engineering outfit capable of solving it.

On the staff of the Manhattan Project was a Army Colonel by the name of Edward Garbisch. One time football star at West Point, an engineer himself, he also happened to be the son-in-law of the late Walter P. Chrysler.  Colonel Garbisch unhesitatingly recommended that the Army contact Mr. K. T. Keller of the Chrysler Corporation when General Groves said he wanted engineers to solve what he considered an engineering problem with respect to the gaseous diffusers.

On March 20, 1943, Colonel Garbisch personally telephoned Mr. Keller, requesting a meeting at the Detroit Office of the Corporation. Mr. Keller had never heard of the Manhattan District nor the name of the Colonel that Colonel Garbisch mentioned would be heading the meeting. It was of no matter, however, since Mr. Keller knew and trusted the son in law of the man that had personally placed him in charge.

The meeting date was set for April 2, 1943. Mr. Keller had Mr. Hutchinson, head of finance in, Mr. Weckler, Fred Zeder, head of engineering, and Mr. Kelley. When the group arrived, it was lead by no less than General Groves himself. By now, he had been awarded his second star, making him a Major General. He also had Colonel Marshall and Colonel Garbisch along.

None of the Chrysler people had ever heard or imagined anything about atoms or fission or uranium. The whole thing sounded incredibly science fiction or a dream. However, if the government felt that Chrysler Corporation was the company to solve the situation, that was signature and seal, as far as K. T. Keller was concerned. Without preamble, or signatures on a contract, his hand shake was all that was needed. The Corporation was in. General Groves informed Mr. Keller that the contract was for $75 million.

The problem lay in the fact that to obtain U-235 from uranium by diffusion, it must be brought into a gas. Unfortunately, the gas itself, uranium hexafluoride, was corrosive in the extreme, devouring steel like a kid with cotton candy on a stick. According to the scientific experts, only straight pure nickel would resist the gas.

(We have all heard of fluoride. A certain toothpaste was created just to get it into the public's hands. In fact, as a product, it didn't exist until atom bomb production began. It is highly toxic. There were some big accidents resulting in releases that culminated in the first law suits against the government. One killed the peach production in New Jersey and induced sickness.)

Chrysler engineers quickly worked out the size of the diffusers within a few hours, based upon the plans submitted by General Groves. That part was simple. They looked somewhat like oversized steel drums. The exact specifications were kept secret as well as the exact number of them, of course.

However, based upon the calculations of the scientists, to build the amount of diffusers, that the project had called for, would take every single available source of nickel that could be had for the next two full years! That was untenable in view of the war effort, where nickel was needed in other places as well. Yet, General Groves was ready to make just such a sacrifice, and probably could have gotten it done, if it were not for the great engineers at Chrysler. They intoned to Mr. Keller, that with careful bonding, nickel plating should work just as well as solid nickel. Mr. Keller agreed, since it is not the depth of the metal that counted as a barrier, it is the metal itself.

The scientific experts pushed back adamantly, saying that the gas is so hideous that it would just attack the plating, peel it off, and eat through the steel, ruining the entire project. K. T. Keller and his staff may not have known much about uranium gas, but they were well familiar with plating, especially nickel.

If it had not been for the dithering of the so called "experts" the program would have begun much earlier. However, Chrysler's process would now have to be laboratory proven under controlled conditions, which should have been expected as ordinary tests of the materials to begin with.

diffusers built by ChrylserMr. Keller's team suggested that they apply a process of electro-plating nickel on the steel. This process provides a positive bond, and electroplate is purer than actual nickel. The nickel metal contains about 1% impurities that cannot be smelted away. The electroplate process removes those impurities because the transfer holds the impurities back.

Given the mood of General Groves, Mr. Keller understood that time was of the essence. He ordered that a large shell be plated and then tested immediately, without waiting for the Columbia laboratory to run its tests. The principal reason is that the Head Engineer of the Plating Engineering Section at Chrysler Corporation, Carl Heussner, had spent some time with the Columbia scientific team, and found them to be oblivious and unconcerned with the amount of nickel that had been proposed to build the diffusers. Columbia had taken for granted that anything they asked for would be furnished to them. They argued extensively with Mr. Heussner about his plating, stating that it "just wouldn't hold up." In fact, it took two whole days of meetings, and heated arguments, to get the laboratory to agree to even test the plated metal sample, just to "humor" Mr. Heussner.

Hurrying back to Detroit, Mr. Keller made sure that Mr. Heussner had some space in Highland Park to carry out some experiments on his own. At the time, of course, no hexafluoride gas existed that could be lent for these experiments. Mr. Heussner knew that plating will work as long as there was a good bond on a clean surface. He choose an unpromising piece of metal for his first test, a large chunk of boiler plate. Covering the plate with a thin sheet of nickel, he immersed it a solution of boiling water and carbon dioxide — the same test that the Government has used to test the pure nickel sheets.

The plating tests were so successful, the government ordered that there was no more need to control test the plating in the water carbon dioxide bath. General Groves was elated, and satisfied that his instincts were correct in selection of an engineering outfit, rather than a bunch of scientists.

K.T. KellerGiven the go-ahead by General Groves, Mr. Keller began a concerted search for space to work in. During the war years, especially in the heart of 1943, empty space was at a premium. He was also made aware of the extreme security constraints that had been imposed upon him, and anyone else associated with the project. Within the corporation, it had been assigned the next design study number within consecutive numbers coming out of the Chrysler Engineering Research Department. It was now the X-100 for anyone that had the clearance to be in the "Eyes Only" compartment. (There were some 1,100 such projects researched by Chrysler.) There were few personnel at first. The exact number of people involved probably will never be known who were involved at Chrysler. Estimates are upwards of 2,500, each only concerned with the area they were assigned to. Plutonium also became "tubealloy" for security reasons.

Mr. Keller attended a War Bond rally at 1525 Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit. The building used to be a department store, but now the first floor was serving as the temporary headquarters for the bond drives. Upon returning to his office, he immediately ordered that the space up above be rented. Security agents reported back to General Groves, who again expressed his pleasures, because the activities of the bond drive, would act as a cover for the things that needed to go there. Quietly, FBI agents, along with government security agents moved into the area. Not one incident was recorded where any of them were asked about their business or what they were doing there. All the Chrysler personnel associated with X-100 moved in and stayed there for nearly two years.

The first order of business was to find sufficient manufacturing space for such a large amount of diffusers. Mr. Keller was given the estimate that about 500,000 square feet would be required. As well, it would have to be extremely tight and clean to the point of commercial sterility. Space was just as tight for manufacturing as was office footage. Mr. Keller initially ordered that a new building be erected, however, the shortage of steel, as he knew from the cut back in the Chrysler tank arsenal output, precluded a new place.

Instead, Chrysler converted the Lynch Road factory to manufacture the diffusers. The normal jobs being performed at Lynch Road were moved, in various shifts, designed to not arouse any interest, other than a normal transfer of manufacturing equipment. Personnel from the Manhattan Project assisted greatly in this process, shortening the time to accomplish it. The Lynch Road plant had been engaged in the manufacture of military trucks, ending up in a much smaller building. However, the operations were not interrupted by the move.

The next order of business was to eliminate all the organic matter within the assembly process. Another way of saying "commercial sterility." To assist, the entire assembly processing building was converted to air conditioning which involved a complex filtration system to remove as many particles in the air as possible.

Chrysler employed the AirTemp commercial air company to do this installation. They were very familiar with AirTemp since Walter Chrysler had employed them to completely air condition the Chrysler Building in New York, making it the first air conditioned skyscraper in the world. AirTemp also had air conditioned Pullman Cars for the railroads. It was this system that Chrysler belatedly recognized could be used in automobiles. Packard and Cadillac offered a/c in some of their late 30 models but they were complex, and cumbersome. Chrysler also had a/c available for some 1940/41 models, however, none were known to be built with it. The 1954 Chrysler a/c units were just another example of the superior brilliant engineering that Chrysler had built its reputation on. They were far simpler than thought possible, took up little room under the hood, easy to service, and had the highest output to that date of anything available.  Freon was a General Motors development to replace ammonia, which had been used in their Frigidaire refrigerators in 1928. The process was given to Dupont which patented it in 1930. The diffusing operation was an extremely hot operation requiring hundreds of 600 hp electric motors, requiring heavy use of air conditioning.

Oak Ridge atomic bomb plantChrysler then engaged in an operation that it does best, that being the manufacture of goods on a production line basis. No exact number of diffusers is known, even after the K-25 Diffusion Plant at Oak Ridge Tennessee was dismantled. The number is estimated at about 7,000 "tubs" for the diffusers. The exact number has never been revealed mainly due to the USA entering into full time production of atomic bombs in 1946, keeping the K-25 plant running until it was finally shut down in 1985.

The manufacturing process itself presented its own challenges for Chrysler. The diffusers needed to have many small pin holes placed at precise places throughout the surfaces to allow the gas to flow freely. This involved a process that has never been revealed on exactly how Chrysler accomplished it, however it involved millions of tiny holes, which also had to be radius turned to smooth the edges.

There were also hundreds of small tubes associated with the diffusing method. This was not associated in any way with Chrysler, which accomplished its assigned task in record time. Unfortunately, it was these hundreds of small tubes that could not be precisely sealed, allowing leaks of both Fluoride and Freon. Fluoride and Freon are both extremely damaging to the ozone layer around the Earth, protecting life forms from the damage of ultra violet rays from the Sun. Later studies indicated that the diffusing process at Oak Ridge was the single largest source of causing this damage before the K-25 operation was completely shut down sometime in 1985!

Once the production line process began to turn out the diffusers, Chrysler worked closely with Union Carbide Corporation, which operated the K-25 diffusing plant. Designed by the W.M. Kellogg Construction Company, it was built by many different contractors under war time conditions. Taking weeks to erect in what would have been years in ordinary situations, it was an engineering triumph, necessitating the integration of many different construction crews involved in diverse tasks. (Kellogg was later changed to Kellex Corporation, then absorbed into the huge Brown-Root Construction Company, which was bought out by Haliburton.)

If it had not been for the engineering acumen and prowess of the Chrysler Corporation Engineering Team, the diffusing plant would not have been on line until late 1945 and the ability to turn out a usable finished product would have been long delayed. The diffusion method, along with the centrifuge operation at Oak Ridge, had been producing useless uranium with only a 2% purity content. Robert Oppenheimer, in charge of the Las Alamos Development Laboratory in New Mexico, had the output from the centrifuge operation run through the diffuser plant in mid-April 1945. It was a brilliant deduction on his part, ending up with a U-235 product that was 89 to 90% pure, adequate to make bombs. By the end of June 1945, while the "Gadget" was being assembled at Las Alamos, Oak Ridge had provided 132 pounds of the enriched U-235 from an estimated ore delivery of 150,000 rail cars of pitchblende. 

As it was, the plant started turning out enriched uranium in April 1945, thanks to Chrysler. Chrysler stayed in the loop for operations as an oversight sort of function. The plating process applied by Chrysler in all of the diffusers never failed, functioning right up until the huge diffusing operation at Oak Ridge was closed down.

Appendix: costs

The Brookings Institute  compiled some of the cost figures for the total dollars spent for World War II for the United States. It is broken down as follows:

  • All bombs, mines and grenades: $31,500,000,000 ($31.5 billion)
  • Small arms material excluding ammunition: $24,000,000,000 ($24 billion)
  • All tanks (including Chrysler's arsenal): $64,000,000,000 ($64 billion)
  • Heavy field artillery: $4,000,000,000 ($4 billion)
  • All other artillery: $33,600,000,000 ($33.6 billion)
  • Manhattan Project:
    • Oak Ridge total - $13,565,662,000 ($13 billion)
    • Hannaford Engineer works - $4,453,470,000 ($4 billion)
    • Total: $21,570,821,000, or about $5 billion per bomb.

While the secretive atomic bomb drew the most attention, it was not the most expensive project of the war; the government spent more on radar, to the tune of about $27 billion. Without the benefits of radar, neither the plane that flew the bombs nor the coordinated air force establishment of air superiority would have been possible.

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