Originally Posted by MarkV
- Don't think that the Soviets penetrated Manhattan
- This is deception not counter intelligence
counterintelligence - among other things countering the ability of the other side to gather accurate intelligence. Can also cause the other sides to take action that would not be optimal for them.
is considered to have been the most valuable of the Atomic Spies
during the Manhattan Project
A drawing of an implosion nuclear weapon design
by David Greenglass
, illustrating what he supposedly gave the Rosenbergs
to pass on to the Soviet Union.
Main article: Atomic Spies
During the Manhattan Project
, the joint effort during World War II
by the United States
, the United Kingdom
, and Canada
to create the first nuclear weapons, there were many instances of nuclear espionage in which project scientists or technicians channeled information about bomb development and design
to the Soviet Union
. These people are often referred to as the Atomic Spies
, and their work continued into the early Cold War
. Because most of these cases became well known in the context of the anti-Communist
1950s, there has been long-standing dispute over the exact details of these cases, though some of this was settled with the making public of the Venona project
transcripts, which were intercepted and decrypted messages between Soviet agents and the Soviet government. Some issues remain unsettled, however.
The most prominent of these included:
- Klaus Fuchs – German refugee theoretical physicist who worked with the British delegation at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. He was eventually discovered, confessed, and sentenced to jail in Britain. He was later released, and he emigrated to East Germany. Because of his close connection to many aspects of project activities, and his extensive technical knowledge, he is considered to have been the most valuable of the "Atomic Spies" in terms of the information he gave to the Soviet Union about the American fission bomb program. He also gave early information about the American hydrogen bomb program but since he was not present at the time that the successful Teller-Ulam design was discovered, his information on this is not thought to have been of much value.
- Theodore Hall – a young American physicist at Los Alamos, whose identity as a spy was not revealed until very late in the 20th century. He was never arrested in connection to his espionage work, though seems to have admitted to it in later years to reporters and to his family.
- David Greenglass – an American machinist at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. Greenglass confessed that he gave crude schematics of lab experiments to the Russians during World War II. Some aspects of his testimony against his sister and brother-in-law (the Rosenbergs, see below) are now thought to have been fabricated in an effort to keep his own wife from prosecution. Greenglass confessed to his espionage and was given a long prison term.
- George Koval – The American born son of a Belorussian emigrant family that returned to the Soviet Union where he was inducted into the Red Army and recruited into the GRU intelligence service. He infiltrated the US Army and became a radiation health officer in the Special Engineering Detachment. Acting under the code name DELMAR he obtained information from Oak Ridge and the Dayton Project about the Urchin (detonator) used on the Fat Man plutonium bomb. His work was not known to the west until he was posthumously recognized as a hero of the Russian Federation by Vladimir Putin in 2007.
- Ethel and Julius Rosenberg – Americans who were supposedly involved in coordinating and recruiting an episonage network which included David Greenglass. While most scholars believe that Julius was likely involved in some sort of network, whether or not Ethel was involved or cognizant of the activities remains a matter of dispute. Julius and Ethel refused to confess to any charges, and were convicted and executed at Sing-Sing Prison.
- Harry Gold – American, confessed to acting as a courier for Greenglass and Fuchs.
Whether the espionage information significantly aided the speed of the Soviet atomic bomb project
is also disputed. While some of the information given, such as the highly technical theoretical information given by Klaus Fuchs
, would be thought to have certainly aided in developing a nuclear weapon, the manner in which the heads of the Soviet bomb project, Igor Kurchatov
and Lavrenty Beria
, actually used the information has led later scholars to doubt it having had a role in increasing the speed of development. According to this account, Kurchatov and Beria used the information primarily as a "check" against their own scientists' work, and did not liberally share the information with them, distrusting both their own scientists as well as the espionage information. Later scholarship has also shown that the decisive force in early Soviet development was not problems in weapons design, but, as in the Manhattan Project
, the difficulty in procuring fissile materials, especially as the Soviet Union had no uranium
deposits known when it began its program (unlike the United States).
maybe flying the same plane by observers was simplistic, but it apparently worked.
Appearance of the Bomber gap
On February 15, 1954, Aviation Week
published an article describing new Soviet jet bombers capable of carrying a nuclear bomb
to the United States from their bases in Russia.
The aircraft they referred to was the Myasishchev M-4 Bison
. Over the next year and a half these rumors were debated publicly in the press, and soon after in the United States Congress
Adding to the concerns was an infamous event in July 1955. At the Soviet Aviation Day
demonstrations at the Tushino Airfield
, ten Bison bombers were flown past the reviewing stand, then flew out of sight, quickly turned around, and flew past the stands again with eight more, presenting the illusion that there were 28 aircraft in the flyby. Western analysts extrapolated from the illusionary 28 aircraft, judging that by 1960 the Soviets would have 800.
At the time, the USAF had just introduced its own strategic jet bomber, the B-52 Stratofortress
, and the shorter-range B-47 Stratojet
was still suffering from a variety of technical problems that limited its availability. USAF staff started pressing for accelerated production of the B-52, but it also grudgingly accepted calls for expanded air defense.
The Air Force was generally critical of spending effort on defense, having studied the results of the World War II
bombing campaigns and concluding that Stanley Baldwin's
pre-war thinking on the fruitlessness of air defense was correct: the bomber almost always did get through
. Like the British, they concluded that money would better be spent on making the offensive arm larger, deterring an attack. The result was a production series consisting of thousands of aircraft. Over 2,000 B-47s and almost 750 B-52s were built to match the imagined fleet of Soviet aircraft.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
was skeptical of the gap from the start. With no evidence one way or the other, he agreed to the development of the Lockheed U-2
to answer the question.
The first U-2 flights started in 1956. One early mission, Mission 2020 flown by Martin Knutson
on July 4, 1956,
flew over Engels-2
airfield near Saratov
and photographed 20 M-4 Bison
bombers on the ramp. Multiplying by the number of Soviet bomber bases, the intelligence suggested the Soviets were already well on their way to deploying hundreds of aircraft. Ironically, the U-2 had actually photographed the entire
Bison fleet; there wasn't a single bomber at any of the other bases.
Similar missions over the next year finally demonstrated this beyond a doubt, and at least in official circles the gap disappeared.
As it was later discovered, the M-4 was unable to meet its original range goals and was limited to about 8,000 kilometers (5,000 mi). Unlike the United States, at that time the Soviets lacked overseas bases in the Western Hemisphere and therefore the M-4 would not be able to attack the US and land at a friendly airbase. Interest in the M-4 waned, and a total of only 93 were produced before the assembly lines were shut down in 1963. The vast majority of these were used as tankers or maritime reconnaissance aircraft; only the original 10 shown at the air show and nine newer 3MD13 models served on nuclear alert.