What was the Manhattan Project?

What was the Manhattan Project?

The Manhattan Project was a code name of an effort started in late 1941 to design and build the atomic bomb. In 1939, Einstein and other scientists urged the American Government to start building an atomic bomb when they heard that German physicists had discovered the secrets of splitting uranium atoms. By 1941, after the U.S. entered the war, funding were finally given to start a large-scale project. In fear of enemies hearing about the project, everything was done under top secrecy.


Although the initial funds allocated to researching the atomic bomb was only $6,000 when the American government thought that such a bomb was still only a faint possibility in the far future. This amount accumulated to $2 billion, with over 120,000 people working on the project. Nuclear facilities for the Manhattan project were built at Hanford, Washington and Oak Ridge, Tennessee while the main assembly plant was in New Mexico, at Los Alamos.

First Test

On July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was ready to be tested. The test happened near Almogordo, New Mexico, with the bomb affixed to a tower of a 100 feet high. The results were astounding, resulting in a blinding flash which could be seen for 200 miles and a mushroom cloud of 40,000 feet high. The bomb created a huge, half-mile crater and turned sand into glass. The windows of homes about 100 miles away were blown out due to the impact of the bomb. The military had to fabricate a lie about an ammunition dump exploding in the desert to explain the huge explosion without giving away the project.

This article is part of our larger resource on the WW2 weapons development. Click here for our comprehensive article on the WW2 weapons.