The Weapon



The decision to make an atomic bomb was taken by Ministers, it will be recalled, at the beginning of 1947 (see Chapter 6). It had been taken as a result of prompting by Dr Penney, who had been appointed as Chief Superintendent of Armaments Research in the Ministry of Supply as from 1 January 1946; his initial appointment was no doubt made with an eye to possible nuclear weapons work, but he was given no specific assignment for it and was officially responsible only for conventional armaments research. He had, however, spent much of the summer of 1946 with the United States team on the Bikini tests and subsequently wrote a series of reports on their effects. During the early winter of 1946-7 he had spent some time as scientific adviser to the British representative at the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission. Penney did not know of the ministerial meeting in January 1947 which decided to make a bomb; twenty-two years later he believed that the decision was not actually made until May, and only then was he told to do something about it.


Atomic Weapon Atomic Bomb Fissile Material Civil Defence Ballistic Case 
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  1. 1.
    Possibilities of radiological warfare were discussed in paras. 8.107 to 8.121 in the US Government publication The Effects of Atomic Weapons (1950).Google Scholar

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© United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority 1974

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