WI: US Nuclear Weapons Operational One Year Earlier

People saying they wouldn't have used them due to radiation seem to have forgotten this was the 1940s. Airbursts also produce negligible fallout and the allies could likely defeat most bunkers of the era (I'd be shocked if bunkers of the era could survive 50PSI overpressure let alone a few hundred) with low airbursts.

You're also overstating the risk of harm to the delivery aircraft. There are other delivery methods than freefall such as parachute retardation. My rough calculations give a Lancaster being about 5km from detonation if it dropped the weapon at 20kft. At 5km the overpressure is only 1PSI, but by the time the shockwave reaches the aircraft the aircraft will be another 2.5km away and the overpressure will be even less. It's not a suicide mission and is very survivable.
 
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Truck Lagoon or some other Japanese Naval Base would get nuked when full of warships.
For the European theater, Polosti instantly taking out ⅓ of Germany's oil production will seriously hurt the German war effort.
Or right before D-Day hit several major rail hubs in Germany.
The U-Boat construction yards are also a tempting Target.
Truk was neutralized by carrier planes in Feb. 1944. It would be a waste of time.
Ploesti was captured by the Russians in August. Trinity test in July is cutting it close. Also the Manhattan scientists want a virgin target. I would consider it a secondary target. I am not sure what the political view would be on nuking Romanians. How about Luena instead?
I think the Japan target list would be the naval bases at Yokosuka and Kure for starters.
 
OP just says operational 1 year earlier, this could include e.g. work on earliest possible bombs was prioritized, so the massive infrastructure of iOTL isn't there for the multiple bomb a month production rate they were planning for by the end of iOTL 1945. iTTL, do they have that rate at the end of 1944?
I think this this is fair in order to keep my idea at least somewhat semi-realistic.

The last time we discussed this (only a few months back IIRC) the issue of the impact on planning for D-Day came up. If the Bomb is ready a year early there is a very real chance, IMVHO, that the Normandy landings get put on the back-burner. Especially if the strategy is to use a significant number of bombs in a short space of time.
Bombs' effect on the D-Day is a rather interesting point which I didn't consider myself. Are you suggesting that the Allies would delay the D-Day and opt for some sort of "nuclear strategy" to force Germans to surrender or wait until they have bombs to be used to support the operation?

As @fastmongrel said, I'm trying to think of another city other than Dresden but...
There are some smaller cities which experienced their most serious bombing raids during the latter half of 1944, like Braunschweig, Darmstadt, Ulm, Heilbronn and some others. Would targets like those make any sense?

Ploesti was captured by the Russians in August. Trinity test in July is cutting it close. Also the Manhattan scientists want a virgin target. I would consider it a secondary target. I am not sure what the political view would be on nuking Romanians. How about Luena instead?
Would Americans be comfortable to fly their new secret weapons so deep inside the Axis territory? Looking at some earlier threads, some posters pointed out that some Americans were actually wary of using the bomb against Germany and preferred Japan for the fear that the former's air defence capabilities were higher. They also thought that Germany would be more capable of studying the device in the event the plane was shot down and wanted obviously prevent that scenario.
 
The main reason for the project was to use the bombs on Germany, so that would happen. Our targets would probably be in Southern Germany and the planes would launch from Italy. I think Munich and Nuremberg would be hit. If Germany does not surrender, they will want to build a nuke of their own, and a pre-cold war arms race wold ensue.
 
... In August 1944 the Luftwaffe is not impotent, so there is the issue of tactics. You could have some B-29s start flying over Germany singly or flights of 3 to get the Germans acclimated to "recon" flights which they may decide not to try and intercept given the small numbers and altitudes. ....
Multiple daily weather and photo recon flights were being flown over Germany every opportunity weather allowed. Daily in simple terms. They were harassed, but the Germans did not have surplus fuel and skilled air crew to waste on many of these. Beyond that there is no reason long range escorts can't be provided for 98% of the mission. they just need to hang back for a few minutes during the final attack run.

Targets are really plentiful. By August 1944 at least a few Allied air leaders were coming to understand their previous efforts had not reduced production. While the Ruhr, or Hamburg, or wherever had been heavily bombed production had still increased & was just nearing its peak in the summer of 1944. its not counter productive to make another attack on Essen or wherever. Achen, Trier, or Metz as major transport hubs along the frontier would be reasonable targets.

This hand waived PoD implies the Haniford Plutonium production facility is stood up as well. That suggests there would be five to seven Plutonium bombs available from August to november as in OTL, as well as the one Uranium bomb. so the Allies can make one or two attacks per month from August to December.
 
@General Tirpitz I think that if the Allies know that the Bomb will be available and works there is a good chance that D-Day may be delayed, or even cancelled altogether in favour of a major nuclear attack on Germany. Something like Fortitude would continue because we wouldn't want the Germans wondering why invasion preparations were winding down.

I think it would depend on when the ATL Trinity test takes place. Once it has been proven that the Bomb works then at that point strategy may change. If the Normandy Landings are already underway then they'll obviously continue. IMVHO the Allies would still want to wait until there were enough weapons available for a major attack.
 
@General Tirpitz ...
I think it would depend on when the ATL Trinity test takes place. Once it has been proven that the Bomb works then at that point strategy may change. ....
Is there anything among the docs left by the Allied leaders indicating this question was discussed? There had been a assumption in the 1942-mid44 dialogue the bomb would be used against Germany, but I've seen nothing yet indicating how, if it were discussed at all. When the German defense in France collapsed in mid 1944 the memos & other correspondence shift to use vs Japan and Germany drops from the dialogue.

I would guess that if the untried bombs are seen as game changers then there could be a shift. Brooke the Brit CIGS seemed to favor such things. Conversely Marshal, Eisenhower, and even Roosevelt were more conservative in their thinking. They would want to hedge the bet by getting armies ashore to take advantage of the effect of the new weapon, or to continue should it fall short of the promises.
 
OK, but now you have to also handwave silverplate B-29s being available for this mission as well, there may be need to extend a runway in England and of course build the bomb pit. In August 1944 the Luftwaffe is not impotent, so there is the issue of tactics. You could have some B-29s start flying over Germany singly or flights of 3 to get the Germans acclimated to "recon" flights which they may decide not to try and intercept given the small numbers and altitudes.
YB-29


March, 1944 at Glatton
 
You're also overstating the risk of harm to the delivery aircraft. There are other delivery methods than freefall such as parachute retardation. My rough calculations give a Lancaster being about 5km from detonation if it dropped the weapon at 20kft. At 5km the overpressure is only 1PSI, but by the time the shockwave reaches the aircraft the aircraft will be another 2.5km away and the overpressure will be even less. It's not a suicide mission and is very survivable.
It took years for the USAF to get the drogue and parachute deployment right for multi-ton bombs

It took 43 seconds to drop from 31,500 feet to 2000 feet, detonation altitude with drag plates in the Box Fins, the so called 'California Parachute'
 
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Operation Overlord is still going to happen. The Western Allies have already invested too much in it. I also think no one would have that much faith in an untested weapon to postpone both Overlord and Dragoon in southern France.
In August 44 the bomb might be seen as the knockout blow for Germany. You have the Normandy breakout and Falaise. The Russians are rolling west. Paris was also liberated. Nuking Germany means no Invasion of Germany and the boys are home by Christmas.
There are going to be plenty German General Officers kicking themselves for not joining/backing the July 20 plot once the atomic bombs start falling.
Edit: For those worried about a failed bomb being captured there is the option of having RAF Bomber Command visit the target city that night and attempting to destroy the bomb.
 
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Bit harsh on the US, Canadian and Polish troops in the area isnt it. Plus with WWII bombing accuracy they could end up dropping it on the D Day beaches.
Not 617 Squadron, who assuredly would have been dropping it due to being the most accurate high altitude bombers ever to that point. Towards the end of the war, they were accurate within as little as 10 meters from 20K feet.
 
Its going to be somewhere in the East, it won't be dropped in the West. The question is how long will it take for that news to spread to the soldiers fighting in the West and how they react to that.
 
Bit harsh on the US, Canadian and Polish troops in the area isnt it. Plus with WWII bombing accuracy they could end up dropping it on the D Day beaches.
Little Boy was a few hundred yards off aimpoint.
Not bad for 31,500 feet up

Same for Lancasters dropping Grandslams and Tallboy bombs from 20k.
It could be done
 
Not 617 Squadron, who assuredly would have been dropping it due to being the most accurate high altitude bombers ever to that point. Towards the end of the war, they were accurate within as little as 10 meters from 20K feet.
393rd Bomb Squadron or an equivalent would be doing the dropping, 617 Sqn. is an RAF unit, US is going to want to keep control of its own weapons at all stages of the process. Plus doing a nuke drop is different, it took the 393rd months of training OTL to get it right, need a special squadron for it
 
393rd Bomb Squadron or an equivalent would be doing the dropping, 617 Sqn. is an RAF unit, US is going to want to keep control of its own weapons at all stages of the process. Plus doing a nuke drop is different, it took the 393rd months of training OTL to get it right, need a special squadron for it
509th had been dropping 'Pumpkins', bombs the same weight and similar size as the Fatman casings on Japan long before the cores were available
from the wiki
Combat missions

Combat missions were flown by the 509th Composite Group on 20, 23, 26 and 29 July and 8 and 14 August 1945, using the bombs against individual targets in Japanese cities. A total of 49 bombs were dropped on 14 targets, one bomb was jettisoned into the ocean, and two were aboard aircraft that aborted their missions.[7]


Mission parameters and protocols were similar to those of the actual atomic bomb missions, and all targets were located in the vicinity of the cities designated for atomic attack. The bombs were released at an altitude of 30,000 feet (9,100 m) and the aircraft then went into the sharp turn required on a nuclear mission. After the war, the Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that the pumpkin bombs were "a reasonably effective weapon against Japanese plants when direct hits were scored on vital areas, or when the near miss was sufficiently close to important buildings to cause severe structural damage."[8]


Last, that area of France was covered by OBOE and GEE H navigation beams
 

CalBear

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Berlin would be symbolic but pretty useless it would just be re arranging the rubble. By Aug 1944 the Western Allies are getting close to the borders of West Germany so I doubt that Eisenhower would want his forces advancing through a nuclear zone. Plus most of the Ruhr was well bombed by then.

Most likely one of the cities that hadnt had a 24 hour raid but was a valuable Military/Industrial/Transport target. Most likely its going to be in the East and South East of Germany.

Its going to be the D word lets face it. Then the thread will descend into the usual shitstorm of David Irving wannabes claiming D was a pretty pastoral town full of busty blonde Mädchen and twinkly eyed Großvater, nein nein Kriegsindustrie nichts heir.
Well it had all that. Every populated bombing target had a variation on that theme (eye color may change, language might be different, Burmese, Dutch, French, English, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Tagalog, or dozens of others) throughout the war

Dresden also had a huge marshalling yard, factories making various military gear (including AAA guns and parts for aircraft and tanks), large number of troops transiting, supplies to keep the Heer forces going in the East flowing through those rail lines, and it was defended; all that made it a legitimate military target.

War utterly sucks. Area bombing is, thankfully, today outlawed under International Law (excepting "response in kind") and was, overall, far less effective than supposed at the time. It wasn't outlawed in WW II and no one had realized that the damage wasn't all that it appeared.

WW II was savage beyond any doubt, but Nazi propaganda was BS at the time and hasn't much improved with age.

tl/dr. Yep.
 

CalBear

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A Lanc could do it...as a suicide mission. Honestly I think you'd have to put some rockets under the wings to give it enough oomph to get out of the way because no way are you going to let the bomb go on a parachute.

Now you know what might work, if it had been planned from the getgo, and that's just nuts enough for the British to try: the Woodcaster. Get the same teams building the Mosquito to build a fleet of ultra-high power wood Lancasters to drop big bombs and the a-bomb.
Altitude too. Lancaster was great bomber, but it had its issues (as do all aircraft) including the fact that it capped out at 21,000 feet. Drop a nuke from that altitude from anything before a B-47 and its Goodnight Irene.
 
Altitude too. Lancaster was great bomber, but it had its issues (as do all aircraft) including the fact that it capped out at 21,000 feet. Drop a nuke from that altitude from anything before a B-47 and its Goodnight Irene.
According to ol' Nukemap, a surface burst of Little Boy would deliver 1 psi overpressure to a radius of 2.9 km, or some 9500 feet. That's as low as the calculator will go, and I've got a relative dearth of information on how many psi the Enola Gay (or other nuclear-mission B-29s) received, or was expected to survive—I'm seeing one reference in one book to 0.3 psi. HYDEsim seems to indicate that 0.25 psi would be at 4.59 miles, or some 24000 feet.

Technically speaking, though, you could do it in a Skyraider and survive, if you've got a light (in mass) enough bomb. I think I've tried it myself in a flight sim a coupla times, years back, and got some encouraging distance numbers.
 
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