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Manhattan Project (U.S.)  Search this
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Four participants from "Project Alberta" convened for Sessions Seventeen and Eighteen. This phase of the Manhattan Project dealt with the conversion of the Trinity test device into the practical weapons systems that were used twice on Japan. The interviewees were among those who designed the bombs to fit the B-29, wired them with redundant electronics, rehearsed the mission, established a base on Tinian Island, and released the bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The sessions were shot at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., and at the National Air and Space Museum's Paul E. Garber Facility in Suitland, Maryland. Norman F. Ramsey, Jr., received his Ph.D. in physics from Columbia University in 1940. During World War II, Ramsey consulted with various government groups concerned with military technology. In 1943 he moved from the offices of the Secretary of War to Los Alamos, where he became a group leader for bomb delivery. After the war, he returned to Columbia and won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1989. Harold M. Agnew received his A.B. in chemistry from the University of Denver in 1942. His advisor referred him to Enrico Fermi, under whom his responsibility was for some of the measurements of the atomic explosions over Japan. After the war Agnew earned his Ph.D. in particle physics at the University of Chicago before returning to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. He directed the Laboratory there from 1970 to 1979. Frederick L. Ashworth graduated from the United States Naval Academy and completed the Naval Postgraduate School course in ordnance engineering shortly before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. After service in the Pacific Theater of Operations, he worked for William S. Parsons and Norman F. Ramsey on the detonation components of the atomic bombs. Ashworth acted as weaponeer on the Nagasaki mission and as General Groves' representative on Tinian Island. His book, The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was published in 1947. Charles W. Sweeney was born in 1920 and grew up in eastern Massachusetts. He enlisted as an air cadet in April 1941, and rose to commander of a bomber squadron in the European Theater of Operations. With nearly three thousand hours of accident-free flight time to recommend him, Sweeney joined Colonel Paul Tibbetts' 509th Composite Group of B-29's in September 1944. He piloted an observation plane at the Hiroshima bombing and dropped the "Fat Man" over Nagasaki from Bock's Car. After he completed his enlistment, he returned to Massachusetts to begin a wholesale leather business and served in the Air National Guard until 1976. Goldberg used the Enola Gay site to draw from the participants details of their involvement with the technologies of Project Alberta. Other questions stimulated recollections of experiences on Tinian Island and on the two missions to Japan. The sessions were shot with half-inch Betacam tape and provide visual documentation of the Little Boy and Fat Man bomb models and the B-29 Enola Gay.
Collection Citation:
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9531, The Manhattan Project Videohistory Collection
Record Unit 9531, Series 5
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The Manhattan Project Videohistory Collection
Archival Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives