The Manhattan Project: Making the Atomic Bomb

Part IV: The Manhattan Engineer District in Operation

Question Marks: Summer 1944

It was still unclear if even the August 1 deadline could be met. While expenditures reached $100 million per month by mid-1944, the Manhattan Project's goal of producing weapons for the current war was not assured. Operational problems plagued the Y-12 electromagnetic facility just coming on line. The K-25 gaseous diffusion plant threatened to become an expensive white elephant if suitable barrier could not be fabricated. And the Hanford piles and separation facilities faced an equally serious threat as not enough of the uranium-containing slugs to feed the pile were available. Even assuming that enough uranium or plutonium could be delivered by the production facilities built in such great haste, there was no guarantee that the Los Alamos laboratory would be able to design and fabricate weapons in time. Only the most optimistic in the Manhattan Project would have predicted, as Groves did when he met with Marshall, that a bomb or bombs powerful enough to make a difference in the current war would be ready by August 1, 1945.

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