We remember the Trinity test as the changing point for the future of weapons development and the course of the Second World War. The basic details are frequently talked about; it was the first major test of the implosion design, it was successful, it occurred on July 16th 1945, etc, but the steps taken in preparation for this test are not often discussed.
A test explosion was conducted in May of 1945 at Trinity site to do a dry run with the measurement and photographic equipment. 100 tons of TNT were detonated 20 feet off the group atop of a wooden structure. The test was a success, although the explosion was about a 20th in size in comparison to the well known explosion that would take place 2 months later.
The materials for the bomb were driven down from Los Alamos in the days leading up to July 16th. An Oldsmobile carried some of the bomb detonators in its trunk, an Army sedan carried the two hemisphere portions, and a convoy later transported the non-nuclear components and explosives. The items arrived safely at the Trinity site after having driven hours over dirt paths and paved roads.
While there were many things that were successful in the planning and execution of the Trinity test, there were quite a few mishaps as well:
Four hours after the Trinity Test the USS Indianapolis set off from San Francisco towards Tinian. The USS Indianapolis was carrying components of the Little Boy bomb. These pieces were delivered July 26th, and the USS Indianapolis was sunk a few days later by a Japanese submarine.
One of the biggest lessons learned from this experiment and its execution is that there will be something that goes wrong, almost always. Outside factors will severely influence plans and operations, but the best way to deal with it is to constantly adapt.
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These articles are written by the Los Alamos Historical Society Staff. Many of these articles were originally published by the