Chrysler’s Secretive Triumph: Detroit’s Crucial Role in the Manhattan Project

July 24th, 2023 by


Detroit gained the moniker “Arsenal of Democracy” due to its pivotal contribution in producing weaponry, vehicles, aircraft, and other supplies for the United States during World War II. Additionally, the city played a part in the clandestine Manhattan Project, which aimed to develop the atomic bomb.

As movie-goers eagerly await the upcoming release of the film “Oppenheimer” this Friday (July 21), we’re taking a retrospective glance at Detroit’s involvement in the endeavor to construct the atomic bomb.

As stated by The National Museum of Nuclear History, The Chrysler Corporation maintained a lesser-known facility dedicated to the Manhattan Project.

According to the museum, General Leslie Groves, the head of the Manhattan Project, granted Chrysler a contract worth $75 million in 1943. Allegedly, the car company set up its headquarters at 1525 Woodward Ave. in Downtown Detroit to manage the covert Project X-100.

The museum indicates that Chrysler undertook a transformation of its Lynch Road Assembly Plant on the eastern side of the city. The objective was to produce numerous sizable cylindrical metal containers, referred to as diffusers. This endeavor necessitated the installation of specialized air-conditioning and air-filtration systems.

These diffusers were employed to encase the barrier material responsible for segregating the uranium isotopes. They were destined for use at the Oak Ridge plant in Tennessee, where the production of enriched uranium through diffusion was underway.

The museum noted that the initial plans had to be altered when Chrysler suggested the utilization of thin, electroplated nickel on steel. This adjustment was necessary because relying solely on nickel would have depleted the entire national supply. As a result of this adaptation, the company successfully manufactured these components in a mere two-month span.

“Take the raw cylinders, machine them, plate them, put in the heads, put in the barrier tubes, seal them tight on the ends, put in the end pieces, weld it all together, test it for leaks,” former Chrysler President K.T. Keller said, according to the museum’s oral history.

Upon the culmination of World War II, the museum reported that Chrysler had manufactured and transported over 3,500 diffusers to the facility, a contribution that sustained the operation of K-25 until the 1980s.

According to the museum, General Groves composed a letter to Keller expressing, “No one outside the K-25 portion of the project can ever know how much we depended on you and how well you performed. Those of us who do know will never forget how important your work was and how well you did it.”

Chrysler is also making innovations in the EV world and for those seeking family-oriented models such as the Pacifica Hybrid. This minivan is known for having one of the most comprehensive lists of safety technologies, as well as those with entertainment value.

If you’re intrigued by the Pacifica minivan or any other vehicle from the Chrysler brand, check out our online new car inventory on our dealership website, Miami Lakes Automall. We carry a slew of vehicles from the car manufacturer in a diverse range of styles. Once you find something to your liking, chat with one of our representatives for more information.

Photo Source/Copyright: Chrysler
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