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World War II, or the Second World War, was a global conflict that was underway by 1939 and ended in 1945. It involved most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, with more than 100 million military personnel mobilised. In a state of "total war", the major participants placed their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Marked by significant events involving the mass death of civilians, including the Holocaust and the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare, it is the deadliest conflict in human history, resulting in 50 million to over 70 million fatalities.
The war ended with the total victory of the Allies over the Axis in 1945. World War II altered the political alignment and social structure of the world. The United Nations (UN) organisation was established to foster international cooperation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and the United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the Cold War, which lasted for the next 46 years
The US emerged much richer than any other nation. Many Americans feared that the end of World War II and the subsequent drop in military spending might bring back the hard times of the Great Depression. But instead, pent-up consumer demand fueled exceptionally strong economic growth in the post war period. The automobile industry successfully converted back to producing cars, and new industries such as aviation and electronics grew by leaps and bounds. A housing boom, stimulated in part by easily affordable mortgages for returning members of the military, added to the expansion. The nation's gross national product rose from about $200,000 million in 1940 to $300,000 million in 1950 and to more than $500,000 million in 1960. At the same time, the jump in postwar births, known as the "baby boom," increased the number of consumers. More and more Americans joined the middle class.
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Working in collaboration with the United Kingdom and Canada, with their respective projects Tube Alloys and Chalk River Laboratories, the Manhattan Project, under the direction of Major General General Leslie Groves, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, designed and built the first atomic bombs. Preliminary research began in 1939, originally in fear that the Nazi atomic bomb project would develop atomic weapons first.[26] In May 1945, the defeat of Germany caused the focus to turn to use against Japan.
Two types of bombs were eventually devised by scientists and technicians at Los Alamos under American physicist Robert Oppenheimer. The Hiroshima bomb, known as Little Boy, was a gun-type fission weapon made with uranium-235, a rare isotope of uranium extracted in giant factories in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.[28] The other was an implosion-type nuclear weapon using plutonium-239, a synthetic element created in nuclear reactors at Hanford, Washington. A test implosion weapon, the gadget, was detonated at Trinity Site, on 16 July 1945, near Alamogordo, New Mexico.[29] The Nagasaki bomb, Fat Man was also an implosion device

Little Boy explodes over Hiroshima, Japan, 6 August 1945 (left);
Fat Man explodes over Nagasaki, Japan, 9 August 1945 (right).
Panel #40
World War II
The Atomic Bomb and the Birth of a Superpower
E Pluribus Unum
"Out of Many, One"
Fifty historical moments that defines one nation