The Men Who Defeated the Nazi U-Boats and Brought Science to the Art of Warfare
Author: Stephen Budiansky
A Washington Post Notable Book In March 1941, after a year of devastating U-boat attacks, the British War Cabinet turned to an intensely private, bohemian physicist named Patrick Blackett to turn the tide of the naval campaign. Though he is little remembered today, Blackett did as much as anyone to defeat Nazi Germany, by revolutionizing the Allied anti-submarine effort through the disciplined, systematic implementation of simple mathematics and probability theory. This is the story of how British and American civilian intellectuals helped change the nature of twentieth-century warfare, by convincing disbelieving military brass to trust the new field of operational research.
During the early years of World War II, American ships crossing the Atlantic with oil and supplies were virtually defenseless against German U-boats. Bombs and torpedoes fitted with TNT barely made a dent in the tough steel plating that covered the hulls of Axis submarines and ships. Then, seemingly overnight, a top-secret, $100 million plant appeared near Kingsport, Tennessee, manufacturing a sugar-white substance called Research Department Explosive (code name RDX). Behind thirty-eight miles of fencing, thousands of men and women synthesized 23,000 tons of RDX each month. Twice as deadly as TNT and overshadowed only by the atomic bomb, this ordnance proved to be pivotal in the Battle of the Atlantic and directly contributed to the Allied victory in WWII. In The Secret History of RDX, Colin F. Baxter documents the journey of the super-explosive from conceptualization at Woolwich Arsenal in England to mass production at Holston Ordnance Works in east Tennessee. He examines the debates between RDX advocates and their opponents and explores the use of the explosive in the bomber war over Germany, in the naval war in the Atlantic, and as a key element in the trigger device of the atomic bomb. Drawing on archival records and interviews with individuals who worked at the Kingsport "powder plant" from 1942 to 1945, Baxter illuminates both the explosive's military significance and its impact on the lives of ordinary Americans involved in the war industry. Much more than a technical account, this study assesses the social and economic impact of the military-industrial complex on small communities on the home front.
The Allies and the Longest Campaign of the Second World War
Author: Marcus Faulkner
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest campaign of the Second World War. This volume highlights the scale and complexity of this bitterly contested campaign, one that encompassed far more than just attacks by German U-boats on Allied shipping. The team of leading scholars assembled in this study situates the German assault on seaborne trade within the wider Allied war effort and provides a new understanding of its place within the Second World War. Individual chapters offer original perspectives on a range of neglected or previously overlooked subjects: how Allied grand strategy shaped the war at sea; the choices facing Churchill and other Allied leaders and the tensions over the allocation of scarce resources between theaters; how the battle spread beyond the Atlantic Ocean in both military and economic terms; the management of Britain's merchant shipping repair yards; the defense of British coastal waters against German surface raiders; the contribution of air power to trade defense; antisubmarine escort training; the role of special intelligence; and the war against the U-boats in the Arctic and Pacific Oceans.
Physics, War, and Politics in the Twentieth Century
Author: Mary Jo Nye
Publisher: Harvard University Press
This is a lively and compact biography of P. M. S. Blackett, one of the most brilliant and controversial physicists of the twentieth century. Nobel laureate, leader of operational research during the Second World War, scientific advisor to the British government, President of the Royal Society, member of the House of Lords, Blackett was also denounced as a Stalinist apologist for opposing American and British development of atomic weapons, subjected to FBI surveillance, and named as a fellow traveler on George Orwell's infamous list. His service as a British Royal Navy officer in the First World War prepared Blackett to take a scientific advisory role on military matters in the mid-1930s. An international leader in the experimental techniques of the cloud chamber, he was a pioneer in the application of magnetic evidence for the geophysical theory of continental drift. But his strong political stands made him a polarizing influence, and the decisions he made capture the complexity of living a prominent twentieth-century scientific life.
This edited volume comprises a series of essays about Patrick Maynard Stewart Blackett, one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century, as well as a prominent figure in the Royal Navy and British politics.
This book explores the creation of knowledge in applied mathematics. It mainly analyses applications of mathematical theories in several contexts. The author analyses the generation of advanced theories that enable people to understand problems in a scientific way, and proposes cognitive models dealing with the observation of human behaviour and its abstraction into comprehensible mathematical models, as this is a main problem in our modern world. This work is directed at people concerned with understanding cognitive processes when tackling complex problems, as it shows the building of knowledge in the making of scientific approaches to any discipline. Using a cross-disciplinary approach, he focuses on the key issues of theories and technologies applicable in a wide variety of contexts, for example in military organizations, in research and development departments and in general strategic planning, as shown in applied cases in Latin America.