20-s. The beginning of atomic science
“The foundation of atomic science and technology was laid in 1922 by the organization of research institutes in Leningrad:
1. Radiological and Radiological Institute (Director MI Nemenov).
2. Physical-Technical Radiological Institute (later transformed into the Leningrad Institute of Physics and Technology, LFTI). Director A.F. Ioffe
3. Radium Institute (Director VI Vernadsky).
In 1928, the Ukrainian Institute of Physics and Technology was also established (UPTI, Kharkiv). Director I.V. Obreimov
In 1932, at the initiative of Ioffe, a laboratory for nuclear physics was created at LFTI, in which the future scientific director of the Soviet atomic project Kurchatov and others worked under his leadership (data from the article "A brief essay on the development of the nuclear industry Rossim, V. Pichugin, director The central archive of the State Corporation Rosatom).
We can assume that since 1932, a period of intensive basic research has begun, which was the basis for the subsequent work on the atomic bomb.
However, these studies were criticized by both the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry and the Academy of Sciences.
The special session of the LFTI Academy of Sciences, held in 1936, was especially revealing, where young scientists were toughly “smashed” by the leading scientists for their studies, which, in the opinion of the aged academicians, were not only unpromising, but also harmful. On the basis of this meeting, very tough conclusions followed which the People's Commissariat accepted: according to his line academician Ioffe reprimanded the LFTI director for organizing such research. However, a similar situation took shape not only in this area: many principled and innovative ideas inevitably ran into an icebreaker of well-established concepts and norms that young scientists had yet to overcome. And they were eventually able to do this, having received strong support from almost all state institutions and institutions. But while there was a period of struggle in the yard, the sprouts were only looking for their own way and there was no consensus on the final choice of this atomic, no one in the world: scientists were only trying to find and understand the principle of a completely new, previously unknown nucleus.
If Ioffe got off with a reprimand, then the director of the UFTI, Lepunsky A.I. "In 1937, he was expelled from the party with the phrase" for the loss of vigilance "and removed from the post of director. 14 June 1938 was arrested and accused of helping "the enemies of the people, defending Landau LD, Shubnikov L.V., Weissberg A. and inviting foreign scientists F. Houtermans and F. Lange to work at LFTI." But already in August 1938, Leipunsky A.I. he was released from prison ”(quoted from the article“ A brief sketch of the development of the nuclear industry Rossim, V. Pichugin, director of the Central Archive of the State Corporation Rosatom).
Paradoxically, Leipunsky subsequently worked in the 9 NKVD administration, organized to work with German specialists invited to work in the atomic project. Soon, however, Leipunsky went to work at the laboratory “B” in Obninsk and became its supervisor.
In the pre-war period, in LFTI, Kurchatov and his research team conducted a large cycle of research on the interaction of neurons with the nuclei of various elements; many scientific articles were published in Soviet and foreign journals based on their results.
Nobel laureates "licked" the reports of Soviet nuclear scientists
“The experiments of G.N. Florova were of fundamental importance. and Rusinova L.I., employees of the Kurchatov laboratory, by measuring the number of secondary neutrons per fission of a uranium-235 nucleus. They found that this number was 3 + 1, which meant that a chain reaction of uranium-235 fission was possible. They made their measurements independently of Joliot, Halban and Kovarsky (France), Fermi and Andersen, Szilard and Zinn (USA), ”the book says AK Kruglova, “How the nuclear industry of the country was created” (Moscow, 1995).
Who ran faster than Kurchatov
During the experiments with short-lived radionuclides in LFTI, funny situations sometimes occurred. GN Flerov recalls Kurchatov's student, the author of letters to Stalin about the need to resume research on atomic energy: “The experimenter, after irradiating the foil, in order not to lose precious impulses, rushed to the counter: the lifetime of induced radioactivity was only about 20 seconds. Once, when meeting with Kurchatov, I happily said: “Do you know, Igor Vasilyevich, that I am running for a few seconds faster than you and had a better last experience!”
The race of atomic schools from different countries began in the literal and figurative sense and the one who was the leader won new defense priorities for his country.
“In 1934, Tamm I.E. developed the currently accepted notion of the nature of nuclear forces, indicating for the first time that they are the result of particle exchange. Frenkel Ya.I. introduced the drip kernel model (1936 year).
Kurchatov devoted a lot of time to building a cyclotron at LFTI, launching and setting up experiments at the first cyclotron in Europe at the Radium Institute, where a beam of accelerated protons was obtained in 1937. Studies in nuclear physics and radiochemistry were conducted at the Radium Institute under the supervision of Khlopin V.G.
Experimental work on the interaction of particles under the guidance of Leipunsky was widely developed at LFTI, in 1938 a large electrostatic generator was launched. In 1939-1940 Zeldovich Ya.B. and Khariton Yu.B. substantiated the possibility of a chain nuclear fission reaction in uranium, and Flerov G.N. and Petrzhak K.A. discovered the phenomenon of spontaneous fission of uranium nuclei, which is of fundamental importance for ensuring the safe start-up and operation of nuclear reactors ”(AK Kruglov,“ How the country's nuclear industry was created ”).
The list of publications on nuclear physics in the pre-war years contains more than 700 articles and reports at international conferences, among which the most representative are: Artsimovich LA, Kurchatov IV, Mysovsky LV. and others “Slow neutron absorption” (1935 year); Leipunsky A.I. "The absorption of slow neutrons at low temperatures" (1936 year); Landau LD “On the Statistical Theory of Nuclei” (1937 year); Frenkel Ya.I. “On the statistical theory of the decay of atomic nuclei” (1938 year); Pomeranchuk I.Ya. “Scattering of Slow Neutrons in a Crystalline Grid” (1938 year); Zeldovich Ya.B., Zysin Yu.A. “On the Theory of Nuclear Disorder” (1940 year); Zeldovich Ya.B., Khariton Yu.B. “On the chain decay of uranium under the action of slow neutrons. Kinetics of the chain decay of uranium "(1940 year); “Nuclear Fission Mechanism” (1941 year); Kurchatov I.V. “Heavy nucleus fission (1941 year); Landau L.D., Tamm I.E. “On the origin of nuclear forces” (1940 year), etc.
The results of theoretical and experimental research in nuclear physics were discussed at the neutron seminar at LFTI, as well as at all-Union meetings on nuclear physics that were held annually in the country.
“At various times, at the All-Union meetings, the following reports were heard:“ The chemical nature of fission products of heavy nuclei (Khlopin VG); “Nuclear fission (Leipunsky A.I.); “Experiments on the division of uranium (Rusinov L.I., Flerov G.N.); "On the question of the fission of uranium nuclei in the capture of slow neutrons" (Leipunsky AI, Maslov VA) and others.
At the end of February 1940, Kurchatov spoke at a meeting of the Physics and Mathematics Department of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR with an extensive report on the uranium problem. In his report, he, in particular, pointed to the need to expand the scope of research in nuclear physics, ”the USSR Nuclear Project: Documents and Materials (in 3 volumes, 1999 year) indicates.
The authority of Soviet science was so great that many leading foreign scientists came to the annual meetings on nuclear physics, who later became Nobel Prize winners: Niels Bor, Wolfgang Pauli, Joliot Curie, Werner Heisenberg and others. With many foreign scientists, Soviet colleagues established friendly business contacts.
All these discussions stimulated the conduct of new research in nuclear physics, increased their scientific level, and most importantly, helped lay the foundation for subsequent work on the creation of atomic weapons.
In search of uranium
In the pre-war period, Soviet geologists did not explore new uranium deposits, since “there was no demand for uranium,” at that time no one had imagined how much it would be needed in the near future. There was only a small mine with a pilot plant in Taboshary, near the city of Leninabad (in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan), which was subordinate to the People's Commissariat of the non-ferrous metallurgy and produced a small amount of radium. However, time set for the country the most difficult task of creating atomic weapons, and for its solution uranium was required.
Academicians Vernadsky V.I. and Khloponin V.G., not yet knowing the future needs for uranium, already in June 1940, a note was sent to the academician-secretary of the geological and geographical sciences department of the USSR Academy of Sciences, P.I. Stepanov, who said: “... urgent measures must be taken to speed up exploration and mining of uranium ores and the production of uranium from them. This is necessary so that by the time when the question of the technical use of intra-atomic energy is resolved, we have the necessary reserves of this precious source of energy. Meanwhile, in this respect, the situation in the USSR is currently extremely unfavorable. Uranium reserves, we absolutely do not have. This metal is currently extremely scarce. Its production is not adjusted. The explored powerful deposits of this metal on the territory of the Union are not yet known. The exploration of known deposits and the search for new ones are carried out at a rate that is completely insufficient and is not united by a common idea. Therefore, we ask the Department of Geological and Geographical Sciences to discuss the status of prospecting and exploration of uranium deposits, outline a plan for the deployment of these works and enter the Government with a draft of relevant measures. ”
In the autumn of 1940, it was decided to send to the main uranium deposits in Central Asia a brigade of the USSR Academy of Sciences under the leadership of Academician Fersman A.Ye. Eight people left for a long trip, among whom there was only one woman — Rozhanskaya EM, the brigade secretary. By the way, there were very few women in the Atomic Project. It is known that in 1944, the researcher of the State Research Institute Z.V. Ershova. Received the first ingot of uranium.
A natural question arose - how much uranium is needed to launch the first industrial nuclear reactor and how much will it be needed in the future. The director of LFTI, Academician Ioffe, spoke of the prospects for the development of uranium mining: “One can hardly expect any practical impact from the fission of uranium in the near future. Another thing is the study of this process ... Here it is necessary to expand the scope of work ... It’s too early to talk about the urgent creation of the uranium industry. ”
Another answer to this question was given by his student Kurchatov in a memorandum to Molotov V.M. on the work of Laboratory No. 2 for the first half of 1943 of the year: “In order to create a boiler of uranium metal and a mixture of uranium and graphite, it is necessary to accumulate 100 tons of uranium in the coming years. The explored reserves of this element in the USSR are estimated at 100-120 tons. Based on this, the GFCS has scheduled receipt of two tons of uranium in the 1943 year and 10 tons in the 1944 year and in subsequent years.
Even without being an expert in this matter, based on their figures, it can be concluded that the atomic bomb in the USSR could appear only after 10 years, unless the situation with exploration and development of new deposits changes.
A detailed description of the deposit in Tabosharas is provided in the certificate of V. Makhnev, Deputy Member of the State Treasury Department Beria L.P., on the status of work on the uranium problem from November 2 1944: “Exploration of uranium deposits. In the two years that have elapsed, due to the lack of attention and the poor material and technical equipment of the exploration parties, the exploration of uranium deposits almost did not budge. ”
According to the GARF (10208 Foundation), “Narkomtsvet had only a few enterprises in 1943 year. The mining of uranium ore was carried out: “the mining shop at the Taboshar deposit as part of 47 workers; the diligent artel in Maili-Su as part of 80-ti workers; a diligent artel in Uygurs as part of 23-ti workers. Ore was processed: Plant “B” (in Tabosharas) with a capacity of 4 tons of uranium salts per year; chemical workshop for ore processing in Leninabad; Experienced workshop at the Institute "Giredmet" for lumpy uranium.
In fact, in the 1944 year (for nine months), the Narkomtsvet mined 2370 tons of uranium ore, processed - 755 tons and produced uranium oxide - 1300 kilograms and metallic (lump) uranium - 280 kg. ”
Based on the note of Makhnev V.A., which was also prepared by the leaders of the NKVD, Zavenyagin A.P. and V. Chernyshev, the 8 Defense Committee of December 1944 of the year, adopted the expanded T-bill of the State Defense Committee No. 7102 “On measures to ensure the development of mining and processing of uranium ores”, containing 30 items of various assignments to the people's commissariats.
The resolution reflected almost all organizational issues related to the formation of uranium mining. First, the exploration and mining of uranium were transferred to the NKVD, mainly because it had specific capabilities, including the use of forced labor by prisoners.
Secondly, the deputy chief of the NKVD Zavenyagin AP he was appointed responsible in the NKVD for the organizational work on uranium.
"Thirdly, as part of the Central Camps Administration of Mining and Metallurgical Enterprises of the NKVD of the USSR, the Uranium Directorate of the Special NKVD of the USSR NKVD was established (data from the book" State Power of the USSR. Higher Authorities and Managers and Their Leaders ". 1923-1991. Historical -bibliographic directory).
Fourthly, a new uranium research institute, the “Institute of Special Metals of the NKVD” (Inspetsmet NKVD), was formed. Subsequently, this institute was named NII-9 and was subordinate to the First Main Directorate (PGU).
Inspetsmet and the plant for the production of uranium and uranium compounds, it was decided to place within the precincts of Moscow. The institute was indeed located at the VIEM, and the uranium plant was not built here.
Many government decrees were issued to expand the volume of geological exploration and the organization of mining enterprises, which was difficult in the conditions of military operations. The certificate of the Special Committee of the NKVD from 16 on April 1945, it was stated that "the total reserves of uranium oxide-oxide in all known deposits are 430 tons", of which 350 tons falls on the Taboshary deposit (combine No. 6).
Thus, by the beginning of the deployment of work on the Atomic Project, the situation with the provision of uranium to it was critical. Therefore, it is no coincidence that Makhnev V.A. 8 April 1945 sent Beria a note with a proposal to send to Germany to find out the characteristics of the Schmiedeberg uranium deposit (Upper Silesia) and to develop proposals for its use in order to obtain uranium ore.
The hard work of Soviet geologists also brought its long-awaited results.
Unique uranium deposits were discovered on the territory of the USSR. One of them is the sedimentary deposit of the Cretaceous (1954 year) with complex (uranium, phosphorus, rare earth elements and others) ores in Paleogene clays, enriched with bone detritus, on the Mangyshlak peninsula not far from the city of Shevchenko (now Aktau - Republic of Kazakhstan). On the basis of this field, the Pre-Caspian Mining and Metallurgical Combine and Mangyshlak Power Plant with a BN-350 fast neutron reactor and desalination plants for the power supply of a nearby city were created.
“Many millions of years ago the ocean was here, part of which was eventually separated by a land area and turned into an inland sea. It is known that uranium was contained in sea water, which was absorbed by marine fish and deposited in their bones. Then the whole sea gradually dried up, all the fish died, forming a multi-kilometer layer of bone fish remains containing uranium. When we went down to the bottom of the quarry, we saw a layer of black ore 1-1,2 meters thick. A walking excavator loaded the ore into powerful 40-ton dump trucks that brought it to the surface. The ore was transferred to railway train stations and delivered to the processing plant. We were shown large vertebrae and teeth of prehistoric sharks, given to hold them in their hands, although they did have some alpha activity. Then we climbed into the cab of the operator-operator and observed the process of the work of the walking rotary excavator. For me, who had in his hands uranium blocks of industrial reactors, clad in aluminum cladding, everything that was seen was of exceptional interest and left unforgettable impressions, ”recalls Dr. Kiselev GV, these days.
The first uranium mining enterprise in the USSR was the Combine No. XXUMX, which was later re-installed at the Leninabad Mining and Chemical Combine (the city of Chkalovsk, Tajik SSR). Then a mining and chemical mine administration was established in the city of Lermontov in the North Caucasus and the Eastern Mining and Processing Plant (the city of Zhovti Vody of the Dnieper Region of the Ukrainian SSR) on the basis of the Pervomaisky and Zheltorechensky iron-uranium deposits. On the basis of the newly discovered uranium deposits, subsequently, large mining and concentration and mining and chemical plants were built: the Kyrgyz mining plant on the basis of the Taravaksky coal and uranium deposit, the Tselinny plant in northern Kazakhstan (Stepnogorsk), Navoi in Western Uzbekistan, already mentioned Prikaspiysky, Priargunsky in Transbaikalia and others. Torium deposits in the Murmansk, Sverdlovsk, Chita regions and Krasnoyarsk Krai were explored and developed.
Two ways to create an atomic bomb
The time from 28 September 1942 of the year (this is the date of the first GKO ordinance on uranium) to August 1945 of the year when the GKO Decree organized the atomic bomb creation work, can be considered the second preparatory period, which can be called the period of conceptual research.
Indeed, during this period, Kurchatov and his "team" conducted many computational studies to determine the direction of further work on the creation of the atomic bomb. In addition to their own data, they also used information about foreign studies obtained by our intelligence.
Based on all the information, two main directions were chosen. The first is to obtain plutonium as the main fissile material for a bomb. The second is the production of highly enriched uranium for the bomb, as well as uranium-233 as a backup option.
At this time, Kurchatov gained access to confidential information about work abroad on atomic topics produced by our intelligence. He familiarized himself with these materials, made conclusions about utility, prepared questions for residents. Foreign information allowed Kurchatov to determine those scientific directions that needed to be developed, as well as those that needed further verification. It should be emphasized that literally all calculations and experiments were carried out by Soviet experts. Sometimes they did not know that there were any foreign data. However, it cannot be denied that foreign information contributed to the solution of the problem of the early creation of an atomic bomb.
Triumvirate created by Stalin in 1945
In August, 1945, the Soviet government was forced to take decisive organizational measures to accelerate the creation of its own nuclear weapons in connection with the US atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9).
The organizational forms of this activity were developed during the Great Patriotic War, when, along with state authorities, various committees were formed with special powers, special commissioners were appointed. For example, the State Defense Committee (GKO) chaired by the Supreme Commander Stalin. When the task arose of speeding up the creation of a national atomic bomb, Stalin did the same, deciding to organize a Special Committee at the State Defense Committee headed by Beria and the First Main Directorate (PGU) under the leadership of the former People's Commissar for Ammunition Vannikov B.L.
It should be noted that the candidacy of Mikhail Georgievich Pervukhin fit all characteristics more than Beria. As stated above, it was Stalin who appointed Pervukhina together with Kaftanov S.V. in 1942 year. senior officials in government for work on the use of nuclear fission energy for military purposes.
“Mikhail Pervukhin graduated from the G.V. Moscow Institute of National Economy in 1929 year. Plekhanov, worked as an engineer at Mosenergo, then as a senior engineer, shop manager, director of Kashirskaya GRES, and from 1938 onwards - Deputy People's Commissar of Heavy Industry, from January 1939 onwards - People's Commissar of Power Plants and Electrical Industry, from May 1940 onwards - Deputy Chairman of Council of People's Commissars. In 1942, he was appointed part-time Commissar of the Chemical Industry. Subsequently, he was appointed deputy head of the PGU "(data from the" State Power of the USSR. Supreme authorities and management and their leaders. "1923-1991. Historical and bibliographic reference).
“Boris Lvovich Vannikov, a participant in the civil war, a party member from 1919, a graduate of the Moscow Higher Technical School; From 1933 to 1936 he worked as director of the Tula Arms Plant, from December 1937 he was appointed Deputy Commissar of the Defense Industry, and from January 1939 he was Commissar of Arms of the USSR. In early June, 1941 was removed from office, arrested and was in the NKVD internal prison after a dispute with Zhdanov and Stalin about the production of artillery weapons. After the start of the war, Stalin returned him to the People's Commissariat for the post of Deputy People's Commissar of Weapons. Vannikov was handed a certificate in which it was stated that he was arrested for a misunderstanding and is considered to be fully rehabilitated. At the beginning of 1942, he was reappointed as Commissar of Ammunition "(data from" State Power of the USSR. Higher Authorities and Administrations and Their Leaders. "1923-1991. Historical Bibliography).
However, Stalin decided to appoint Beria as Chairman of the Special Committee and, therefore, made him responsible for solving the atomic problem in the country. It should be noted that Beria, who had headed the NKVD since 1939 and was a member of the State Defense Committee of the USSR since 1941, knew the work of the military-industrial complex well. Uh
Interesting memories left Vannikov in his book "At the origins of the Soviet atomic weapons." He spoke about a meeting with Stalin when discussing the structure of managing atomic affairs, when it was decided to appoint him deputy head of the Special Committee, head of the PGU and chairman of the technical council of the Special Committee: "It was a truly productive appointment for me - three posts at once" (and even !) At the same time, Vannikova was not dismissed from the post of the People's Commissar of Munitions, which was done later.
Zavenyagin was appointed First Deputy Head of the Perm State University, who also remained in the post of Deputy Commissar of the NKVD of the USSR; He was charged with overseeing the mining and processing of uranium ore and the construction of nuclear facilities. Stalin's choice of Vannikov, Zavenyagin and Pervukhin, who have extensive experience in organizing on a national scale during the war, and their appointment as PSU leaders proved very successful, their subsequent activities allowed to solve the task of creating nuclear weapons.
TK on the first aerial bomb
So, in May 1946 of the year, the technical task “On the body of the high-explosive aerial bomb” was prepared. The 1 item of this TZ was as follows: “The body of the bombs must be adapted for mounting inside its charge, enclosed in a solid metal shell. The weight of the charge with the shell is two tons, the diameter of the charge in the shell is 1,3 meters. The mount must be non-permanent, i.e. on bolts or locks, not on welding.
Item 2. The space inside the case on both sides of the charge should be saved as much as possible to fill the explosive.
Item 3. The bomb should be designed for lifting on a heavy bomber.
Independent suspension systems should be developed, both inside the hatches (if dimensions allow ensuring a stable flight) and outside.
Item 4. Preservation of the hull shape when entering the ground is not necessary.
Item 5. The bomb must be supplied in the head part with two independently operating fuses of instant action.
Item 6. In the side wall of the housing of the high-explosive aerial bomb against the center of charge, a circular opening with a diameter of 120 mm should open and close hermetically.
Item 7. The plane takes one bomb of the specified type.
Signature - Yu. Khariton.
To be continued ...