Dedicated to all those who served with or supported the 456th Fighter Squadron or 456th Fighter Interceptor Squadron or the UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
Contrary to the widely held view, the
may have known about the Japanese project before the end of the war, and this information might have influenced President Harry Truman's decision to use the bomb on United States . Japan
... when UN forces had been at
in connection with the retreat from Chosin, a mysterious installation in the mountains around it had been discovered. Hungnam
~Robert K. Wilcox,
's Secret War: Japan 's Race against Time to Build is Own Atomic Bomb Japan
An ancient Japanese legend has it that the Japanese people are descended from a blonde haired blue eyed race that came from the stars, a legend remarkably similar to the doctrines that percolated in the secret societies that fostered and mid-wifed the Nazi Party into existence in Germany between the World Wars. Nor did this legend play a small part in the history of World War Two, for it was partly because of its mere existence that Hitler could proclaim the Japanese "honorary Aryans" and conclude the incorporation of
into the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis without contradicting Nazi Party racial ideology. This was in no small part due to the Japanese ambassador in Japan 's diplomatic skill in pointing out this little known fact of Japanese legends to the Germans. Of course, there were pressing military and political reasons for Berlin and Italy to conclude an alliance with Germany , but for the race and ideology obsessed Nazi government, so much the better if the Japanese had some sort of Nordic-Aryan connection, no matter how tenuous that might be. An early and continuous problem for the three Axis partners was to arrange the transfer of technology and raw materials from Japan Europeto the Far East. Most transfers occurred via U-boats or Japanese submarines, though both and Germany undertook long range, and militarily quite risky, flights to Japan as well. Italy
The Italians, for example, mounted such a flight with a Savoia Marchetti S 75 GA during 1942, ostensibly for the purpose of supplying the Italian embassy in Tokyo with copies of new Italian code books, since the Commando Supremo had concluded that the Allies had broken Italian codes. [Dr. Publio Magini, Military History Quarterly, Summer 1993].
As the war progressed, the Germans found themselves increasingly trading their high technology for very little in return other than the prospect of stiffening Japanese resistance and perhaps drawing American force to the Pacific and lessening pressure on the Reich. And the Japanese, their industry hard-pressed to maintain pace with American and British technological developments, were always very eager, and very specific, in their demands for high technology from their Aryan brethren.
Even the conventional military technology transfers from
to Germany are staggering enough. Japan
had requested and received either working models or full production designs for the following: Japan
- German techniques for manufacturing cartridge steel for large gun barrel linings;
- Finished artillery pieces;
- 105 and 128 mm heavy anti-aircraft (FLAK) guns;
- the 75 and 88 mm field pieces and anti-tank guns;
- the Würzburg radar system;
- 750 ton submarine pressure hulls;
- the PzKw V Tiger I tank;
- the Focke Wulfe 190 fighter;
- the Henschel 129 tank-busting aircraft [This rather odd-looking twin engine aircraft had a bulbous cupola slung beneath the nose of the main fuselage, in which was mounted a 75mm automatically reloading high velocity anti-tank gun projecting from its nose. It was a deadly and efficient tank-busting airplane used with great effectiveness on the Eastern Front, curiously resembling a similar ground assault aircraft in the modern American arsenal, the A-10 "Warthog"];
- the Heinkel He 177 heavy bomber;
- the Messerschmitt 264 long-range Amerikabomber;
- the Messerschmitt 163 rocket-powered fighter;
- the Lorenz 7H2 bombsight; the B/3 and FUG 10 airborne radars;and perhaps significantly, Twenty-five pounds of "bomb fuses.
~ Joseph Mark Scalia,
's Last Germany to Mission : The Failed Voyage of the U-234 Japan
Fortunately for American and Commonwealth forces in the Pacific theater, these weapons never saw full scale production by the Japanese. What is intriguing is the last item. Why bomb fuses? Surely the Japanese, who had been raining bombs all over
, China , and the Pacific knew how to fuse a conventional bomb. The request suggests that the fuses were of a sophistication beyond the capabilities of Japanese industry. And why a request for heavy bombers so close to the end of the war, at least one of which was reputedly capable of ultra-long-range flight and heavy payload? Indochina, Burma
A. Strange Rumors
As with the end of the war inShortly after World War II had ended, American intelligence in the Pacific received a shocking report: The Japanese, just prior to their surrender, had developed and successfully test-fired an atomic bomb. The project had been housed in or near Konan (Japanese name for
Europe, the end of the Pacific war carried with it the odd rumor or two, some of which managed to appear in short articles in the Western Press, before the curtain of the Allied Legend slammed down to hide their implications from view. Robert K. Wilcox, in a book that may well in retrospect be the first book on the German bomb project from a revisionist perspective, Japan's Secret War, revitalized these reports and rumors: ), Hungnam , in the peninsula's North. The war had ended before this weapon could be used, and the plant where it had been made was now in Russian hands. Korea
By the summer of 1946 the report was public. David Snell, an agent with the Twenty-fourth Criminal Investigation Detachment in Korea... wrote about it in the Atlanta Constitution following his discharge.
Snell's source for the allegation was a Japanese officer returning to
. The officer informed him that he had been in charge of security for the project. Snell, paraphrasing the officer in his article, stated: Japan
In a cave in a mountain near Konan men worked, racing against time, in final assembly of "genzai bakudan,"
's name for the atomic bomb. It was August 10,1945, only four days after an atomic bomb flashed in the sky over Japan and five days before Hiroshima surrendered. Japan
To the north, Russian hordes were spilling into
Manchuria. Shortly after of that day, a convoy of Japanese trucks moved from the mouth of the cave, past watchful sentries. The trucks wound through valleys, past sleeping form villages.... In the cool predawn, Japanese scientists and engineers loaded genzai bakudan aboard a ship at Konan.
Off the coast, near an islet in the
Sea of Japan, more frantic preparations were under way. All that day and night, ancient ships, junks and fishing vessels moved into the anchorage.
Before dawn on August 12, a robot launch chugged through the ships at anchor and beached itself on the islet. Its passenger was genzai bakudan. A clock ticked.
The observers were 20 miles away. The waiting was difficult and strange to men who had worked relentlessly so long, who knew their job had been completed too late.
The light in the east, where
lay, grew brighter. The moment the sun peeped over the sea there was a burst of light at the anchorage, blinding the observers, who wore welder's glasses. The ball of fire was estimated to be 1,000 yards in diameter. A multicolored cloud of vapors boiled toward the heavens, then mushroomed in the atmosphere. Japan
The churn of water and vapor obscured the vessels directly under the burst. Ships and junks on the fringe burned fiercely at anchor.
When the atmosphere cleared slightly the observers could detect several vessels had vanished. Genzai bakudan in thut moment had matched the brilliance of the rising sun to the east.
had perfected and successfully tested an atomic bomb as cataclysmic as those that withered Japan and Hiroshima . Nagasaki
There are a number of things to note about this account. How had
, hard-pressed for even conventional military technology, pulled off this feat of testing an atom bomb of the same approximate yield as Japan and Hiroshima ? Where did they get the enriched uranium for the weapon? Moreover, the Japanese had tested their bomb only three days after the plutonium "Fat Man" fell on and obliterated Nagasaki . Small wonder then, that the Japanese cabinet debated whether or not to surrender. This important fact, in conjunction with Wilcox's startling revelations, will serve as the basis for further speculation in a moment. Finally, the test itself suggested that the Japanese envisioned deploying the weapon against naval targets. What possible thoughts may have been going through the Japanese cabinet's surrender debate? Possible clues lie in the nature of the Japanese program itself, and its significant reliance on technology transfers from Nagasaki . Germany
The chief physicist involved in the Japanese project was Yoshio Nishina, a "colleague of Niels Bohr." It was Nishina who in fact headed the Japanese army team that investigated
after the bombing of that city. The reports of the Japanese test at Konan were a steady source of consternation and mystification to American intelligence units in occupied Japan after the war, for unlike its obsession with the German bomb program, Allied intelligence consistently placed the Japanese far behind, as conducting only theoretical studies, and maintaining that the Japanese "had neither the talent nor the resources to make a bomb." Resources Hiroshima may have lacked, but there was no lack of talented physicists who understood bomb physics. In any case the reports caused enough concern tor the American occupying forces to send several intelligence teams throughout Japan to destroy its cyclotrons, of which there were no less than five, and presumably more! This curious fact raises a question. What were the Japanese doing with that many cyclotrons? Could they have perhaps been given the secrets of Baron Manfred Von Ardenne's method of mass spectrograph separation and enrichment of uranium 235? Or did the Japanese physicists, like their German and American counterparts, come to the realization that the cyclotron afforded a method for isotope enrichment? Both are possible, and the latter is probable. JapanB. Strange Industrial Complexes:
Kammler Revisited, Noguchi Style
Further confirmation of a Japanese atom bomb test led Wilcox to connect Nishina to a Japanese industrialist named Noguchi. Searching through American declassified records, Wilcox quickly concluded that "subsequent directives in the same boxes ordered reinvestigations in 1947 and 1948 of Japanese wartime atomic research, indicating that (American intelligence) still did not know exactly what had happened. In fact, (it) was continually ordering reinvestigations of Japanese wartime atomic research and discovering new facts at least up until 1949, according to additional documents that I found." Then Wilcox struck a very rich vein: Box 3 of Entry 224 yielded a high mark of my two days at Suitland [Suitland" is Wilcox's nickname for the US National Archives] In interrogation of a former engineer at the Noguchi Konan complex, Otogoro Natsume, conducted on October 31. 1946 "Subject" of the interrogation was listed as "Further questioning the newspaper story about atomic bomb explosion in
In attendance were head (sic) of the Science and Technology Division, Dr. Harry Kelly; an interpreter, "T/4 Matsuda," and a "Mr. Donnelly," identified only as "5259 TIC." He apparently was some sort of intelligence officer and, judging from their questions, the interrogators had more information about the Konan-Hungnam story than was in the newspaper.
Kelly: "Did any of the plants have accidents during the war?"
Donnelly: "We haven't actually found anything concrete. Last few days we have been talking with people here in and around
Has he got any idea as to how we can get these secret plans?
The six men mentioned are the only ones who knew much about the secret plant.14
As we shall see momentarily, perhaps the most significant thing about this interrogation is the date, October 31, 1946. It is also significant that the bulk of the scientists involved appear to have been chemists. Finally, as is apparent from the interrogation, the plant or plants at Konan were of significant size.
Of increasing interest have been recent reports dealing with an apparent undercover research laboratory operated by the Japanese ... at ...
.... All reports agree that research and experiments on atomic energy were conducted.... The two chief scientists were Takahashi, Rikizo and Wakabayashi, Tadashiro.... The recent whereabouts of these two individuals is not known, inasmuch as they were taken into custody by the Russians last fell. However, before their capture they are reported to have burned their papers and destroyed their laboratory equipment.... Some reports... say... the Russians were able to remove some of the machinery. Further reports stated that the actual experiments on atomic energy were conducted in Hungnam , and the Japan plant was opened for the development of the practical application of atomic energy to a bomb or other military use. This section of the ... plant ... was always heavily guarded.... These reports received separately are surprisingly uniform as to content. It is felt that a great deal of credence should be attached to these reports as summarized. Hungnam
We may now speculate as to the real significance of these US Army intelligence reports in the light of subsequent events.
Clearly, the US Army is taking seriously allegations of a Japanese atom bomb project based in the northern
But could the real motivations for MacArthur's lightening dash up the peninsula toward Chosin after the
What the Nishina group finally did settle on was a process called thermal diffusion. This had been one of the first isotope separation processes devised. But until it was perfected by two German scientists, Klaus Clusius and Gerhard Dickel, in 1938, it had not been practical. Stated simply, thermal diffusion relied on the fact that light gas moves toward heat. Clusius and Dickel constructed a simple device consisting chiefly of two metal tubes placed on inside the other. The inner tube was heated; the outer one was cooled. When the apparatus was turned on, the lighter U-235 moved to the heat wall; the U-238, to the cold wall. Convex currents created by this movement sent the U235 upward; the U-238 downward.... At a certain point the U-235 at the top could be collected, and new gas pumped in. it was a simple and rapid way to get relatively large concentrations of U-235. As Wilcox notes, this process, developed as it was in
Used in large size and enough quantity - At Auschwitz and Konan - and perhaps in conjunction with other technologies of enrichment, von Ardenne's mass spectrograph adaptations of cyclotrons, it is entirely feasible that the Japanese also had a highly secret uranium enrichment project being run near the Konan complex. So one may advance the line of speculation further: with the surrender of the U-234 and its cargo of infrared proximity fuses and their inventor, Heinz Schlicke, and Japan's own request for "fuses" and plans for German strategic heavy bombers, MacArthur's troops at the Chosin Reservoir may have uncovered not only evidence of Japanese progress and eventual testing of a uranium atomic bomb but they may have uncovered further evidence of the success of the program that lay behind it: Nazi Germany's. Indeed, the fuses point to a possible plutonium bomb project underway in both countries.And so we return to the decision of the Japanese cabinet, and speculate further. If the Japanese government knew of the German program, they may also have known of the extent of its success Two bombs had fallen, and according to the translator for Marshal Rodion Malinovsky, another had fallen but not detonated. In any case, the Japanese were probably aware that while America's single bomb project may not have been capable of delivering more bombs within a short span of time, there would have been no way to estimate how many bombs might have been taken as war booty from the Germans. And the failure of the U-234's mission would have told them that at the minimum, fuses capable of use in a plutonium bomb as well as a large supply of enriched uranium had fallen into Allied hands. By August 12, 1945, with the successful test of the Japanese bomb and the German test of October 1944. the war had gone nuclear.
Perhaps it is significant, in the light of contemporary problems with a nuclear
In this light, perhaps the most significant fact uncovered by Wilcox is that "contrary to the conventional military history that Japanese atomic efforts were bombed into extinction by spring 1945... the project was continued and heightened even after the Emperor's August 15 surrender." Wilcox does not elaborate much farther than this, but the statement raises a chilling prospect:
·~ Joseph Mark Scalia,