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The Manhattan Project gets all the glory(it deserves it), but the Soviets quickly developed their own atomic weapons. They had some help through espionage, but I think it might be another piece of McCarthyism to dismiss Soviet atomic scientists. 

 

Here is a post on the Nuclear Secrecy Blog on the early program. Good insight, but not the end-all-be-all of information on the subject. 

Model-of-the-bomb.jpg

A Model of the First Lightning/Joe 1 bomb?

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I don't know that it's accurate to call dismissal of Soviet technology a "McCarthyism". McCarthy seemed genuinely worried about the Soviets as a threat. Indeed, the Soviets at large made the Americans feel pretty insecure about their ideology and way of life for some time. I think the "all Soviet stuff is copied crap" comes later.

Not sure, though.

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The Soviet infiltration program did happen and was quite impressive. I don't know why there is such an inferiority complex about this. Stealing enemy secrets is a good thing. If anything, it's the Americans, FBI and the fold in charge who should be the ones mocked.

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I watched an interview with one of scientists from Soviet nuclear weapon programm. They basically were able to meet in person with some European scientists, who worked on US atomic bomb. AFAIK, several those scientists were trying to give atomic bomb secret to anybody else, to balance power in future.

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The first link repeats more or less what I'd heard about the early Soviet bomb designs; they were clones of Fat Man/Gadget.  The Soviets were able to obtain general design schematics through their espionage network, but not detailed blueprints was my understanding, so they had to do a lot of figuring on their own to figure out how exactly to get the thing to work.  Still, the information they got from the US program was a huge leg up.

 

The bit about their physicists realizing that the eerie silence meant the US was working on bombs is amusing; sort of like how Einstein got word that the Germans had stopped all export of uranium compounds.

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