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Could the British have developed atomic weapons on their own?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Urban hermit View Post
    I don't believe they could have by themselves during WWII. OTOH, the U.S. did not accomplish the task by ourselves, without the aide of Canada, and scientists from around the world who knows how long it would have taken the U.S.?
    Could the British have developed the bomb? Yes. In time to make a difference in WWII. No. The massive expenditure of funds while still producing the materials needed to conduct the War at the US level was an incredible event. In what world would the TVA, Hanford, and New Mexico come together in the Empire?
    Was there land? Possibly. Was there water? Questionable. Money? Major problem. Available Educated Labor? Who knows?

    Not within the time frame of WWII.
    My Avatar: Ivan W. Henderson Gunner/navigator B-25-26. 117 combat missions. Both Theaters. 11 confirmed kills. DSC.

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    • #17
      In 1940-41 the British were ahead of everyone in the Atom bomb race
      MAUD Committee
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MAUD_Committee

      MAUD report of July 1941
      http://www.atomicarchive.com/Docs/Begin/MAUD.shtml

      "8. Conclusions and Recommendations

      (i) The committee considers that the scheme for a uranium bomb is practicable and likely to lead to decisive results in the war.

      (ii) It recommends that this work be continued on the highest priority and on the increasing scale necessary to obtain the weapon in the shortest possible time.

      (iii) That the present collaboration with America should be continued and extended especially in the region of experimental work."

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      • #18
        Originally posted by lakechampainer View Post
        In my view yes, but they would have required great help from Canada - facilities, money, people and cheap energy.
        Yes, the atom was first split in the Cavendish Labs. in Cambridge in 1936. Achieved by an NZ prof. with post-grad students.

        The reality of wartime commitments meant it was more rational for the UK nuke guys to bung their lot in with the Manhattan Project.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
          There is no question that the UK could have developed a nuke. The question would be when and for what, where and when could it have been tested and other questions.
          If fascism had come to fruition in the US in the 30's, and the USSR continued to be a place of horrors, which I will take as a given once Stalin had full power and as long as he lives, Britain might have developed a program, concentrating more on the science than the production.

          If they had started engineering, etc. in Canada, no doubt prying eyes to the South would have noticed.

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          • #20
            The question is not if but when:
            How long does it take the UK with only the commonwealth's resources to produce a viable nuclear weapon?
            The Americans did it in roughly 3 years starting in 1942 with significant help from the UK and Canada. Much of the early research was done by the British (look up Tube Alloys to see how much).
            The British re-started from scratch in spring 1947 and successfully detonated a weapon in fall 1952. That's roughly 4.5 years.

            I estimate that the UK could have produced a nuclear weapon on their own sometime in the late 1947 to early 1948 time frame. That is basically 5 1/2 to 6 years after the 1942 point of collaboration with the US.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by lakechampainer View Post
              If fascism had come to fruition in the US in the 30's

              and the USSR continued to be a place of horrors, which I will take as a given once Stalin had full power and as long as he lives,
              1)this was totally out of the question : only a former member from Laguna Woods is believing this .

              2)big words :the USSR was not a place of horrors when J V was ruling .Otherwise people would have revolted .

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              • #22
                Originally posted by 101combatvet View Post
                Yes, but where would they have tested it? Australia?
                That was where the post war British atom bombs were tested.
                After WW2 the USA refused to share it's atomic bomb secrets with the UK and Canada breaking the agreement made when Britain, Canada and the USA agreed to pool their research in the USA soon after the USA entered the war.
                This forced the British to set up their own atomic bomb project and Britain set off its first atomic bomb on the Monte Bello Islands off the coast of North West Australia in 1952.

                Last edited by redcoat; 21 May 15, 18:55.

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                • #23
                  Experimental Station Suffield, Alta ...

                  Originally posted by redcoat View Post
                  That was where the post war British atom bombs were tested.
                  After WW2 the USA refused to share it's atomic bomb secrets with the UK and Canada breaking the agreement made when Britain, Canada and the USA agreed to pool their research in the USA soon after the USA entered the war.
                  This forced the British to set up their own atomic bomb project and Britain set off its first atomic bomb on the Monte Bello Islands off the coast of North West Australia in 1952.
                  The area has "marginal agricultural land, given the perpetual semi-arid climate", likely site for testing nuclear type weapons in WWII no-USA setting.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experim...ation_Suffield

                  History

                  When France fell to the Axis Powers in 1940, the British lost access to the joint British/French experimental station located in the Sahara at Beni Ounif, two hundred miles south of Oran. Following the lost of the Algerian experimental station, the Canadian Government indicated that it was willing to provide an alternative location. In October 1940, the Superintendent of Experiments at Porton Down, England, Mr. E. Ll. Davies, arrived in Canada to discuss the issue with Lt. Colonel Morrison and Dr. Otto Maass. Of the sites considered; Tracadie NB, Northern Quebec, Northern Ontario, Brandon, Manitoba, and Maple Creek, Saskatchewan; Suffield, Alberta was selected.

                  The area, which was given the name the Suffield Block, contained one hundred and twenty-five farms plus additional lands that were mostly owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Hudson's Bay Company. A small nucleus of British scientists arrived at the experimental station in the spring of 1941.

                  The Experimental Station Suffield, under the administration of the Canadian Army, commenced operations on June 11, 1941 as a joint British/Canadian biological and chemical defence facility. The name appears on several reports from the period and was most likely following a British naming convention. By the end of the Second World War, the station employed 584 personnel trained in chemistry, physics, meteorology, mathematics, pharmacology, pathology, bacteriology, physiology, entomology, veterinary science, mechanical and chemical engineering. In 1946, the station was placed completely in the hands the Canadian Army when the British withdrew their support. The responsibility for administrating the station, including the Suffield Block, was transferred to the Defence Research Board on April 30, 1947 by Order in Council PC 101/1727. In August 1950, the station was renamed to the Suffield Experimental Station (SES).

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CFB_Suffield


                  Chemical warfare training

                  The lands comprising modern-day CFB Suffield were known as the "Suffield Block", resulting from the Dominion Land Survey, and comprised marginal agricultural land, given the perpetual semi-arid climate. Some settlement was attempted, but during the droughts of the 1920s most farms were abandoned, along with some horses, whose feral descendants now roam the region. The total area measures approximately 2,690 square kilometres (1,040 sq mi) and borders an area north of the South Saskatchewan River.

                  Following the fall of Algeria to Nazi Germany, the British Army required a new training facility for carrying out experiments in chemical warfare. In 1941, the federal government expropriated the Suffield Block, purchasing the majority of the land from the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Hudson's Bay Company; 452 residents were displaced. Experimental Station Suffield commenced operations on June 11, 1941.

                  British forces left the joint operation of Suffield to the Canadian Army in 1946. In 1947 the Canadian Army turned operation of Experimental Station Suffield over to the Defence Research Board, now Defence Research and Development Canada. In 1950 the facility was renamed Suffield Experimental Station, and in 1967 it was renamed to Defence Research Establishment Suffield (DRES). Throughout the period from 1947 to 1971, the Canadian Army continued occasional use of the Suffield ranges.

                  British Army
                  Main article: British Army Training Unit Suffield

                  On August 25, 1971, the Canadian Government ratified a ten-year agreement with the British Government that allowed the British Armed Forces to use the northern three-quarters of the Suffield Block for armoured, infantry, and artillery live-fire training. On December 1, 1971, Canadian Forces Base Suffield (CFB Suffield) was officially created and allocated to Mobile Command.

                  Over 160 staff members, 90 buildings, 80 vehicles, and the Crown Village of Ralston were transferred from Defence Research Establishment Suffield to the newly created base and CFB Suffield was co-located with the Research Establishment. By January 1972, the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) was established and the first live round was fired by a battlegroup from the 4th Royal Tank Regiment (4th RTR) on July 15, 1972.
                  British Army training has continued at Suffield since 1971, with the shared-use agreement being extended several times (made indefinite in 2006).

                  Regular and reserve units of Canadian Army began to make use of the base beginning in 1991, around the same time as the downgrading of CFB Wainwright. The British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) consists of pool training equipment used by army units rotating through the base on exercises, as well as a training "opposition force" (OPFOR).
                  "I am Groot"
                  - Groot

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                    1)this was totally out of the question : only a former member from Laguna Woods is believing this .

                    2)big words :the USSR was not a place of horrors when J V was ruling .Otherwise people would have revolted .
                    so there were not prison camps, wholesale executions, and famines for the regular people, and purges for the leaders of the party etc. and the military?

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                    • #25
                      Cost of a British "Tube Alloys" project may have been far less than the US Manhatten Project. The latter included a number of of projects not all of which the British may have embarked on. One example would be the dual weapon programs. In 1942 it was not yet clear which route would be better to follow, a Uranium or a Plutonium bomb. The keep things moving money was allocated for both weapons development and production. Eventually it became clear the Plutonium weapon was more efficient & the Uranium weapon project was scaled back. Had the Brits not followed this redundant two weapon program & waited until the research was complete they would have save a significant amount of cash in a unneeded production facility.

                      Significant parts of the Manhatten project costs were paper costs with smaller real economic costs that appearances suggest. ie: The US Treasury transfered several million Troy ounces of silver to the MP for use as electrical wire. On paper the cost was billions of USD. The reality was the silver was transfered from one government entity to another and the cash cost simply a set of internal government ledger entries. Later the silver was salvaged and its value moved again from one government ledger colum to another. The real economic cost was a lot less than the value ascribed to the silver bullion.

                      In terms of time there would be a savings in the time used to roll the US & British programs into one. It took more than a few months for the two programs to be integrated. Absent that reorganization delay the Brit Tube Alloys project moves ahead a bit faster with the research in 1942.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                        Cost of a British "Tube Alloys" project may have been far less than the US Manhatten Project. The latter included a number of of projects not all of which the British may have embarked on. One example would be the dual weapon programs. In 1942 it was not yet clear which route would be better to follow, a Uranium or a Plutonium bomb.
                        Tube Alloys said nothing about UF6.

                        UK was very far behind the USA in utilizing fluorine compounds for mass production.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Marmat View Post
                          The area has "marginal agricultural land, given the perpetual semi-arid climate", likely site for testing nuclear type weapons in WWII no-USA setting..
                          Not only for testing, but for creating. I have fished and hunted along the Columbia River, along lands taken for the Hanford Reserve. Your description is a direct representation of the area. As a sidelight, the local Richland HS has the nickname "Bombers", and their symbol is a mushroom cloud. Not exactly a PC concept, but one they are proud of...
                          My Avatar: Ivan W. Henderson Gunner/navigator B-25-26. 117 combat missions. Both Theaters. 11 confirmed kills. DSC.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by lakechampainer View Post
                            so there were not prison camps, wholesale executions, and famines for the regular people, and purges for the leaders of the party etc. and the military?
                            This does not mean a place of horror .

                            Besides,famines were not something special in the SU : there were also famines before the Soviets took power .

                            In a dictatorship there are always prison camps and executions.

                            The purges were limited to the establishment and did not affect the population .
                            The majority of the population was satisfied with the regime,because of the improvement of the living standards .

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