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  #21  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 01:06 PM
The Red The Red is offline
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Originally Posted by sharlin View Post
Regarding the Nazi's going in the wrong direction with their nuclear programme, what were they actually doing wrong?
I'm not a physicist, but IIRC the main failing was the use of Heavy Water over Graphite, and a lot of bad math exacerbated by divided resources between several programs and a general brain drain/refusal to work for the Nazis.

Their principal bomb design was also very underwhelming, attributed to the realistic amount of Uranium 235 they believed they could manufacture. Still a very powerful explosion compared to conventional weapons of course, but tiny compared to the Little Boy or Fat Man, and a party popper compared to Hydrogen Bombs.
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  #22  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 01:21 PM
DaleCoz DaleCoz is offline
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A German atomic bomb during World War II = extremely difficult but not impossible--maybe a 1-2% chance. Best bet would be having spies in Manhattan Project to help them past some of their misconceptions. That might conceivably have given them a bomb by very late in the war, but at the expense of other projects and a lot of industrial capacity. They would also have to get the project done without Allied intelligence getting wind of it. Otherwise the Allies would have hit it with all the airpower they could muster, which was very formidable any time after spring 1944.

I want to emphasize: that's for a bomb late in the war. To get one by mid-1941, the basic theoretical breakthroughs in the 1930s would have probably had to have been made more quickly. That's not impossible, but it wouldn't lead to the same Germany we saw historically having the bomb.

The first patent for an atomic weapon was filed in 1933, I believe, but there were still several practical hurdles to overcome to get to an atomic bomb. By 1939, enough theoretical breakthroughs had happened that several countries started research programs into atomic weapons, including Britain and France, which actually smuggled a quantity of heavy water out of the country under the noses of the Germans during the fall of France.

Let's try to make the best case for a German atomic bomb by mid-1941. Let's say that the Wiemar Republic military, not long before Hitler came to power, seizes on the early theoretical atomic work and decides that atomic weapons have potential to leapfrog Germany's potential enemies, getting around restrictions on rearmament by creating a superbomb.

The German military has been carrying on secret research on a variety of weapons, including tanks and aircraft anyway, so this is just one more clandestine project. They secretly enlist Germany's first-class scientists, or at least some of them, and give them as much support as they can given Germany's slender financial resources. The program is very secret, of course, and not huge initially. It's mainly theoretical and experimental work at this stage--not cheap but not huge, not on an industrial scale.

For this to work, the Germans have to make very quick progress, push probability to the extreme edge of what's barely possible type progress. Let's give them that, for the sake of argument. By the time Hitler consolidates power in the night of the long knives, two things have happened: (1) The Germans have made enough progress to know that there is an enormous amount of potential for a weapon here, and (2) In the small community of theoretical physics, the absence and secretive behavior of German heavy-hitters has become known to the rest of the physics community. Non-German physicists become aware that something secretive and military is happening in Germany.

The German military at first kept quite a bit of autonomy from Hitler, but as the program progresses, Hitler becomes aware of it. His overwhelmingly most probable reaction: to try to disband it because of the many Jewish physicists involved. Let's say that somehow the army convinces him of the potential for the bomb, or manages to ignore his directives initially. The first of those is extremely unlikely, the second quite possible in the early years of Hitler's reign. So the program continues through the mid-1930s. By this time (1) the military potential has become quite obvious, but (2) Persecution of Jews has gotten bad enough that Jewish (and some non-Jewish) scientists on the project are becoming very reluctant to work on it. The Germans start facing subtle sabotage, and quite likely defections or attempts to leak what they're up to.

By 1937 or so, the rest of the world would be getting quite alarmed at the possibility of a German atomic program, based on the silence of the German physics community, and possibly leaks from it, or key defections. The possibility of an aggressive Nazi Germany with superbombs is a nightmare for the rest of Europe. Every other major power quietly starts their own program, racing to catch up with the Germans, with some of them helped by leaks and/or defectors.

Meanwhile, in Germany, leaks or defections from the nuke program could precipitate a showdown between Hitler and his generals. Even without that, Germany would have to reach a decision point by 1937 at the latest: do they pump scarce money and industrial resource into building the industrial infrastructure for bombs or do they use those resources to continue their conventional arms buildup. That's a tough one. There is a good chance that they go for conventional arms. Let's say they go for a nuke industry instead, taking the resources out of their conventional buildup--so fewer planes, fewer ships, and fewer tanks.

By the time Munich rolled around historically, the German conventional army is in no shape to take on even the Czechs alone, much less the French and Brits. But Munich was largely a bluff on Hitler's part anyway, so maybe even the reduced German military is enough to bluff the Allies into abandoning the Czechs. That's not all that likely. By now the evidence of a German nuke program would be getting pretty overwhelming and the Czechs have uranium that the Brits and French would not want to have fall into German hands.

Assuming that the W. Allies still don't fight and the Czechs don't decide to fight on their own and kick weakened German butt, that takes us to 1939, where the Germans are still two years from a bomb, but much weaker conventionally. Do they risk war in Sept 1939? Probably not. Their conventional edge over the Poles would be enough smaller that they couldn't expect a quick victory. Also, the threat of a German atom bomb would probably push the W. Allies and the Soviets together. It would also probably mean a less isolationist US.

Even if the Germans managed to take Poland quickly, they would not be in a position to take France. Even to do the conventional arms buildup they did historically, the Germans had to keep taking and looting new countries. If they hadn't taken Austria they were facing 30% cutbacks in military spending, because they were running out of money. Looting Austria tided them over until they got Sudetenland, which tided them over until they grabbed and looted the rest of Czechoslovakia. They had to keep getting easy victories, and that's even without a nuke program devouring resources.

See how all this works? A German a-bomb by 1941 wasn't totally impossible, but it runs a gauntlet of improbabilities and ends up with the Germans (a) in a much weaker position economically and in terms of convention weapons, and (b) Probably not very far ahead of Britain, France and others in terms of their atomic program.
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  #23  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 02:15 PM
CalBear CalBear is offline
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I understand, but assuming they could have pulled it off. What would the effects be?
First off, welcome!

We don't do things quite this way in the "main" forums (Pre/post 1900, FH). This sort of thing is called "handwaveonium" in that it requires all facts, common sense or reality to be ignored to bring something about. The Forums are, by general agreement, meant to discuss plausible or semi-plausible events that can be brought about by identifiable Points of Divergence (POD in Board shorthand) that change Our Time Line (OTL). Examples of this abound, from Washington falling out of the boat on the way to Trenton to Gavrilo Princip's gun misfiring along with a nearly infinite number of others.


In this case the POD requires that the Reich spend masses of money it didn't have while devoting masses of materials and skilled manpower it didn't have on a project based on scientific discoveries that the Party rejected as "Jewish Science" to create something that it never came close to creating IOTL and doing so without any sort of change to the Reich, Party or the realities of the era.
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  #24  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 05:21 PM
Perkeo Perkeo is offline
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The Manhattan Project cost around $80 Billion in today's money, as Germany was already throwing herself into huge debt attempting to re-arm and increase the German standard of living, debt's they plan to pay with by a loot and extort policy in eastern Europe and western Russia. If in 1939 they decide not to go to war but to focus all their resources on the bomb then, yes, they can get somwhere, but the money runs out before they reach completion.
According to English Wikipedia, "the German V-weapons (V-1 and V-2) cost $3 billion (wartime dollars) and was more costly than the Manhattan Project".

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Assuming [the He177's] engines didn't catch fire! Now the 277 and 274 with 4 engines fine but then that needs yet another POD with regards to bomber development and we've gone beyond ASB.
Again Wikipedia: The He177 was able to carry 6 tons of bombs over the Channel or to Moscow, which is just enough for a German Little Boy of Fat Man.

I doubt the pilot will return home safely, but I also doubt Hitler will care, so where's the problem?
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  #25  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 05:33 PM
wcv215 wcv215 is offline
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According to English Wikipedia, "the German V-weapons (V-1 and V-2) cost $3 billion (wartime dollars) and was more costly than the Manhattan Project".
Yes, for a weapon that required significantly less work, time, and money. That just shows how wasteful,the project was, so if the Germans build an atomic bomb it will probably cost them at least three times as much, probably more. Not to mention that they don't have the electrical capacity.
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  #26  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 05:34 PM
The Red The Red is offline
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According to English Wikipedia, "the German V-weapons (V-1 and V-2) cost $3 billion (wartime dollars) and was more costly than the Manhattan Project".
It's best not to cite Wikipedia, do you have any academic sources?

One guy on the site did once do a calculation that scrapping the V program and removing the coses of a Plutonium bomb would almost make a German bomb cost effective but that negates the lack of brainpower/allied bombing/Soviet advance.
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  #27  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 05:48 PM
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It's best not to cite Wikipedia, do you have any academic sources?
I find it hilarious when people demand academic sources for everything about Nazi-Germany, but let this ...

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I'm sure Operation Vegetarian would have been deployed by the British.
...
slide right past.
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  #28  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 05:58 PM
The Red The Red is offline
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I find it hilarious when people demand academic sources for everything about Nazi-Germany, but let this slide right past.
You're disputing the fact Britain had weaponised Anthrax? You don't really need academic sources for that, the evidence took several years to be decontaminated, 48 years after exposure.
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  #29  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 06:05 PM
Rubicon Rubicon is offline
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You're disputing the fact Britain had weaponised Anthrax? You don't really need academic sources for that, the evidence took several years to be contaminated, 48 years after exposure.
I am questioning that the UK had weaponised anthrax early enough or in quantities enough to do anything but tests.
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  #30  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 06:08 PM
wiking wiking is offline
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I am questioning that the UK had weaponised anthrax early enough or in quantities enough to do anything but tests.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Vegetarian
Apparently they did.
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  #31  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 06:15 PM
Rubicon Rubicon is offline
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*sigh* Wiking, read up a couple of posts.

I want to find a *serious* article written by an acclaimed historian about Op. Vegetarian, because all I've been able to find is written by David Irving . A wikipedia stub with broken links isn't an serious article.
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  #32  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 06:17 PM
wiking wiking is offline
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*sigh* Wiking, read up a couple of posts.

I want to find a *serious* article written by an acclaimed historian about Op. Vegetarian, because all I've been able to find is written by David Irving . A wikipedia stub with broken links isn't an serious article.
Fair enough, but good luck finding much else
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  #33  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 06:20 PM
The Red The Red is offline
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I am questioning that the UK had weaponised anthrax early enough or in quantities enough to do anything but tests.
'In 1941, the UK had developed anthrax as an agent against cattle. Canada did extensive work on rinderpest. The USA–UK–Canadian BW program was focused on anthrax as an antipersonnel weapon. It was abandoned before being finished. The UK BW program was aimed at retaliation-in-kind, using agents against cattle, in the form of cattle-cakes containing anthrax organisms. The UK produced 5 million cattle-cakes containing anthrax organisms, but these were never used. Testing of bombs was carried out on the island of Gruinard off the Scottish coast during 1942.'

Roffey, R., Tegnell, A., Elgh, F., 'Biological Warfare in a Historial Perspective', Clinical Microbiology and Infection 8:8 (2002), 450-454
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  #34  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 06:31 PM
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'In 1941, the UK had developed anthrax as an agent against cattle. Canada did extensive work on rinderpest. The USA–UK–Canadian BW program was focused on anthrax as an antipersonnel weapon. It was abandoned before being finished. The UK BW program was aimed at retaliation-in-kind, using agents against cattle, in the form of cattle-cakes containing anthrax organisms. The UK produced 5 million cattle-cakes containing anthrax organisms, but these were never used. Testing of bombs was carried out on the island of Gruinard off the Scottish coast during 1942.'

Roffey, R., Tegnell, A., Elgh, F., 'Biological Warfare in a Historial Perspective', Clinical Microbiology and Infection 8:8 (2002), 450-454
While better then what I've read thus far, it gives no information. Like When were these 5 million cakes ready? How many cakes per bomb? When were the bombs ready? How many bombs per square km to saturate the area?

Looks more like a test or someones pet project. 5 million cakes isn't a lot to be honest with it's intented target.

Edit: To Clearify, from what I've been able to find out it looks to me as if Op. Vegetarian was a paper tiger or someone's pet project that didn't live up to it's expectations and that now is brought up as a Deux Ex Machina in every thread where there is s threat of a possible German victory. Nothing I've read gainsays this and there is some support of it in this article p.43-44
'The initial idea was that the half-million bombs ordered in March 1944 should be sufficient to threaten six German cities with retaliation if a Nazi threat materialized. But because the virulance of the anthrax obtainable was, by 1945, only between one-eigth and one-ninth of that originally expected, the theoretical total of bombs needed for a six-city attack went up to at least four million.'

To me that looks as if someone at the war department did the math on just how many anthrax bombs that would be needed and found it unfeasable.

Last edited by Rubicon; January 3rd, 2014 at 06:59 PM..
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  #35  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 06:59 PM
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The problem is that if Germany has major atomic breakthroughs it simply will be unable to keep them secret. British and especially Soviet espionage abilities were simply too great.
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  #36  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 07:09 PM
The Red The Red is offline
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While better then what I've read thus far, it gives no information. Like When were these 5 million cakes ready? How many cakes per bomb? When were the bombs ready? How many bombs per square km to saturate the area?
In A Higher Form of Killing, Paul Fildes, the man in charge of Anthrax testing at Porton Down gave the order in 1942, with the 5 million ready by mid-1943. A Lancaster could carry 4000 of the cakes, each around an inch in diameter. They would be dropped over 60 mile swathes of farmland in Northern Oldenburg and northwest Hanover amongst other targets during the Summer of 1944.
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  #37  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 07:12 PM
The Red The Red is offline
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'The initial idea was that the half-million bombs ordered in March 1944 should be sufficient to threaten six German cities with retaliation if a Nazi threat materialized. But because the virulance of the anthrax obtainable was, by 1945, only between one-eigth and one-ninth of that originally expected, the theoretical total of bombs needed for a six-city attack went up to at least four million.'

To me that looks as if someone at the war department did the math on just how many anthrax bombs that would be needed and found it unfeasable.
You're right about the N-Bombs, which would have been dropped on cities directly for Germans to inhale the spores. It's true that it never left the planning stage but that was not the same plan as Vegetarian, nor would it have used the linseed-oil cakes desinged for it.
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  #38  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 07:27 PM
wiking wiking is offline
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The problem is that if Germany has major atomic breakthroughs it simply will be unable to keep them secret. British and especially Soviet espionage abilities were simply too great.
Yet they weren't able to detect the V-weapons program and jet program until a member of the German resistance leaked it in 1943. In fact most of the intelligence they got was either by breaking German codes, aerial recon, and the German resistance. Their espionage in Germany was marginal at best and whatever they got came from the German resistance, including the Soviets; Rote Kapelle was fed info from resistance members in the German General Staff for instance who sought out people to leak to rather than 'Allied intelligence being über good at spying'. Disgruntled Germans turned Germany into a sieve of intelligence, though it wasn't always quite so easy to get information out; nuclear intelligence wouldn't necessarily be leaked quickly either.

Edit:
Forgot to mention the contributions of the Polish resistance, which provided the Allies a lot of important intelligence.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Orchestra_(espionage)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_spy_ring
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritz_Kolbe
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oslo_Report
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  #39  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 07:28 PM
Rubicon Rubicon is offline
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In A Higher Form of Killing, Paul Fildes, the man in charge of Anthrax testing at Porton Down gave the order in 1942, with the 5 million ready by mid-1943. A Lancaster could carry 4000 of the cakes, each around an inch in diameter. They would be dropped over 60 mile swathes of farmland in Northern Oldenburg and northwest Hanover amongst other targets during the Summer of 1944.
I'll take a look at it, but that math looks really wonky, or sparse, in an ideal world with perfect saturation over only cattleland you'd end up with maybe about 20 cakes per square km, that's not enough to poison the cattle herds.
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  #40  
Old January 3rd, 2014, 07:45 PM
The Red The Red is offline
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I'll take a look at it, but that math looks really wonky, or sparse, in an ideal world with perfect saturation over only cattleland you'd end up with maybe about 20 cakes per square km, that's not enough to poison the cattle herds.
Presumably the RAF would have used more than one bomber. It likely would have been something similar to a thousand bomber raid for maximum effect before the Germans suspected somethng.
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