The U.S. gets the bomb...a year early

Here’s the scenario:

5:29 AM, the Alamogordo Bombing Range, New Mexico. The blinding flash of a 20 kt fission explosion pierces the desert night. The “Trinity” test is successful, America has The Bomb.

The date is July 16…1944. Almost everything else is the same. D-Day was a month before, and the allies have yet to break out of the Normandy beachhead. The 509th Composite Group, however, is also ready a year early.

So…what happens now?

The US didn’t want to use the bomb in Europe, so it would have been used on the Japanese anyways. Maybe on one of the islands leading up to Japan. Only problem is, the atom bomb is best used on a concentrated target, ie. a city. So they might have used it on Hiroshima anyways.

It’s not clear whether they still would have had to conquer those separate islands like Saipan anyways though. The Japanese defenders there might have decided to fight to the last even after a Japanese surrender, instead of surrendering or killing themselves, thought it would have meant defying the Emperor.

Why not use it on the Germans? Dresden perhaps? Transportation hub that would help keep the armies in the East from preventing the early capture of Berlin.

ANyone have any contemporary proof the US would not have nuked Germany? I suspect that this is a post-war urban legend.

We absolutely would have nuked Germany, in large part to end the war with the Russians still a good way east.

Remember, at the time nobody thought of nukes as anything other than really powerful bombs - differing from regular explosives in magnitude, not in their essential nature. Considering what the Allies did to Dresden I have no problem believing they would have dropped the Bomb on Berlin.

The plan all along was for Germany to be the primary target for atomic weapons; it was regarded as the more dangerous enemy. I don’t believe that any list was made of specific targets.

I agree except not Berlin, they would have avoided the capital and went for a strategic manufacturing city.

This probably would have decreased the size of the Soviet block.
It would have greatly reduced the loss of life; fewer civilians would have likely died to 1-2 atom bombs then the following year’s worth of conventional bombing.
The loss of life of soldiers would have been greatly reduced.

I believe the split of Germany was strongly responsible for reducing the war like mentality that seemed to exist culturally in Germany.

Would the Western Allies have pushed a lot harder at the Soviets?
Would Patton’s ideas of using the German regular army as the first wave assault against the Soviets been more attractive?
Would Japan have surrendered or beefed up island defenses?
How many more would have been rescued from the concentration camps?

I think a case could be made for Berlin, especially if Hitler and his henchmen were known to be there. The Third Reich was, at its root, a personality cult. Disorder and fascism are incompatible.

I suspect that the industrial Rhine would have been a target.
The hydro dams, the ball bearing factories.
Then, demands after demonstration.

It depends on where it is dropped and if it gets the top Nazi’s I think. If it had been used against Berlin and Hitler, Himmler and the top Nazi leadership were incinerated [along with =/- 200,000 Berliners] I would expect the Germans to sue for peace immediately. Most professional Military guys- not the totally insane - knew the War was lost at that point anyway.

If it was dropped on Hamburg or Dresden as a demonstration/more sure thing and Hitler et al survived I would expect them to fight on until Germany was a cinder – as they essentially did IRL. Maybe even if they were wise to it they would dodge and keep hidden. In that case it might not have made a HUGE impact:

September 8th Little Boy is dropped on Dresden
September 10th Fatman dropped on Berlin (Hitler is hiding elsewhere)

The next bomb isn’t deployable until about December just in time for the Battle of the Bulge … The Allies are already in Aachen …maybe drop a 3rd bomb on Hamburg? My real fear would be an allied attempt to use it tactically – hit the Germans massing for the Battle of the Bulge and then marching Americans, Brits and Canadians across the radiation. In any event the only real impact might be that a few Germans on the fence out of patriotism and/or a hope to fight on for better terms might be more inclined to try to coup Hitler – other than that under this scenario I am not sure it would have had a huge impact (for anyone but German civilians)

In Conclusion, IMO IF the A-bomb could get Hitler it could have ended the European War in Summer 1944 and saved 100’s of thousands of allied and German lives. If it didn’t get Hitler the military effect would be one of perhaps cutting a few months off the end of the War – but the loss of German Civilian lives on Hitler’s funeral pyre would probably be overall greater.

Slightly off topic, but did the Allies ever consider a “Kill Hitler and his top officials” scenerio at all? If they did, was it concluded that doing so wouldn’t effectively stop the war machine or overthrow the Nazi party? If removing the top Nazi eschelon with assassins or commandos wouldn’t work, atom bombs might not either. Plus, to open an entirely different can of worms, I’ve heard it inferred that the British, and especially Churchill, didn’t care so much about defeating Nazism as they wanted Germany defeated, for strategic/ imperial reasons, and wouldn’t have accepted a “Hitler’s dead, Germany wants peace” armistice even if one was available.

If the US had gotten the bomb sooner, we would have used it against Japan.

There was a long history of racial hate against the Japanese that didn’t exist against Germany. From the US perspective, the war in the Pacific was more intractable, we didn’t have the help of millions of Russian soldiers.

The US motivation into the war was entirely different in Europe and the Pacific. We entered the war because of the attack on Pearl Harbor. We only declared war on Germany after they declared war on us.

What about air defences, didn’t Germany put up a fairly stiff fight against the RAF/USAAF until the end was quite near? Especially if you only have one or two bombs and you can’t have a fleet of aircraft in the sky getting in the way of the bomb or bomber.

By saying we would have nuked Germany, I’m not at all saying we wouldn’t have nuked Japan as well.

We would have nuked both countries, as fast as we could make the necessary bombs. We were engaged in all out war with both countries and were insisting on unconditional surrender. We would not have hesitated using any legitimate weapon we had.

Send a 1000 plane raid to one city; the nuke to another in one plane.
Which do you think will get attacked? :dubious:

Absolutely, Germany gets nuked. Whatever the racial animosity versus Japan, the level of hatred versus Germany was plenty to allow the bomb to be used against the Nazis.

Germany was always the most feared, the big enemy. In July 1944, the war in France looked like it might last a very long time. Goodbye, Dresden. Or Hamburg. Or Berlin.

Nonsense. The U.S. would have used the bomb anywhere it felt there would have been a strategic benefit. Besides, Tinian was captured until August 1944. It would take time after that to prepare a suitable airfield for a B-29.

In the meantime, the Allies were sure the Germans were working on their own bomb. The consensus would be to use our bomb before the Germans could use theirs.

Where are you getting this from? The racial hatred is clear, but my memory of the historical record is also pretty clear that the bombs were actively intended for Germany, but the war ended too quickly to use them there.

You speak with certainty as if you have a source other than opinion. Is the above your opinion (which is fine), or do you have a source for the assertion?

The first bomb(s) dropped would certainly have been on Germany for the exact same reason we dropped them on Japan…the shorten the war and save American lives. Racial hatred, if it came in at all, would have been running a far distant third in our reasons for dropping it…first and second being save American lives/shorten the war, and save money.

Ok, so, we drop the first bomb on Hamburg or Dresden (possibly Berlin but I doubt it) as a demonstration of our power. I’m fairly sure that even if Hitler was wacked enough to want to go on the military would have been forced to step in at that point and take control if necessary to end the war. I doubt we’d have had to drop a second bomb like we did in Japan.

My questions would be…what would the Soviets have done? If Germany suddenly surrendered to the US, would the Soviets allow the remnants of the Germany armies in their territory to surrender? IIRC at that point the Germans were in retreat from the Soviets but hadn’t started their retreat through the other conquered countries yet (like Poland). What would have happened to those countries since the Soviets wouldn’t have had their armies in there to ‘liberate’ them? Would the Soviets have pressed to occupy them anyway? What about Germany itself…if it surrendered completely and unconditionally to the US directly, could the Soviets still have pressed to divide the country in two?

As to the effect on Japan, I’m not sure it would have had one. In fact, it might have made things worse as they would have been psychologically prepared for it. I think that part of what caused them to surrender in the end was simply the shock of having first one of their cities and then another obliterated…even then there were elements who wanted to fight on and only intervention by the Emp directly finally brought about the end of the war. Given time to prepare both physically and psychologically, and given just how fanatic the Japanese were, I’m thinking we would have been forced to actually invade Japan (and that the Soviets would have turned on Japan much earlier as well, meaning that instead of a partitioned Europe we might have had an iron curton situation in Asia instead).

Also, after using such a bomb on the Germans there MIGHT have been some protest about using another one on Japan…racial hatred aside. Or the president might not have been willing to use it after getting reports on what the ones in Germany had done.


The assassination attempt on Hitler took place July 20th.

So, things were pretty unstable already.

In RL, there were 20 days between the first test & Hiroshima.

But the distance the Bomb would have to travel for European deployment was shorter. (Remember–the test was in New Mexico, construction in Oak Ridge) So, 15 day to a German target? Reasonable?

Aug 1, 1944 - Polish Home Army uprising against Nazis in Warsaw begins.

Aug 4, 1944 - Anne Frank and family arrested by the Gestapo in Amsterdam, Holland.

Rommel forced to commit suicide for his role in the assassination attempt–October 44
These 3 events would have had very different outcomes.