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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Part of the Special Engineer Detachment (SED), Donald C. Harms was first sent to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to work on the Manhattan Project. Transferred to Los Alamos shortly after, he was selected to become a member of Project Alberta, testing bomb designs for combat use in the modified “Silverplate” B-29s stationed at Wendover, Utah. He worked under Don Hornig at Los Alamos and was involved in designing and troubleshooting the electronic triggering device (the “X-Unit”) for the Fat Man bomb design. He was sent to the island of Tinian as part of the Destination Team to prepare the Fat Man bomb for use against Japan.

Afte the war, he returned to Los Alamos and went on to become a member of the firing team for the joint Army-Navy A-bomb test at Bikini Atoll known as Operation Crossroads. He left Los Alamos in late 1946 to work at the Naval Ordnance Testing Station at China Lake, CA.

Donald’s son, Kurt Harms, has created an excellent website on his father and his role in the Manhattan Project, Dad & the Manhattan Project.

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