The Manhattan Project

In partnership with the National Museum of Nuclear Science & HistoryNational Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Gadget

Jim Eckles' Interview

Cindy Kelly: I am Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is December 7, 2017, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I am with Jim Eckles. I would like to start by asking him to say his full name and spelling it.

Jim Eckles: Jim Eckles, E-C-K-L-E-S.

Kelly: Terrific. Jim, why don’t you just tell us a little bit about your background and how you became so familiar with the Trinity site?

V-Site

Located in a bucolic setting surrounded by tall pines, these humble wooden and asbestos-shingled buildings were where the world's first atomic device was assembled. Here scientists, engineers, and explosives experts worked around the clock on the "Gadget," the first plutonium-based atomic explosive.

Trinity Site

The birth of nuclear weapons occurred on July 16, 1945 at the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range in New Mexico, 230 miles south of Los Alamos. Gadget (as the bomb was known) was an implosion plutonium bomb, like the one used at Nagasaki, and detonated with 20 kilotons of force, slightly more than the Little Boy bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Originally the test was to occur at 4 a.m., but it was delayed to 5:30 after an early morning thunderstorm. At 5:29:45, Gadget exploded and the Atomic Age began.

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