Igor Kurchatov
Historical Figure
Nationality: Soviet Union (born in the Russian Empire)
Date of Birth: 1903
Date of Death: 1960
Cause of Death: Blood clot in the brain
Occupation: Physicist, educator
Political Party: Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Turtledove Appearances:
POD: May 30, 1942
Appearance(s): Tilting the Balance;
Striking the Balance
Type of Appearance: Direct
Igor Kurchatov (12 January 1903 – 7 February 1960) was the Russian nuclear physicist who lead the Soviet atomic bomb project, starting in 1941. Under his direction the Soviet Union successfully tested its first plutonium-based nuclear device, First Lightning in 1949, and is remembered as "The Father of the Soviet Atomic Bomb". He was also part of the Soviet hydrogen bomb project, but ultimately spent the remainder of his life pushing for the peaceful use of atomic energy.

Igor Kurchatov in WorldwarEdit

Igor Kurchatov the director of the Soviet Union's atomic bomb project before and during the Race Invasion of Tosev 3. His team built a complete bomb using plutonium captured by the NKVD from a destroyed Race starship. However, enriching plutonium was beyond the capacity of the Soviet Union until very late in the war, as was developing uranium.[1] Kurchatov resisted the temptation to promise Joseph Stalin completion of the project on an unrealistic timeframe, even when bribed and threatened by Vyacheslav Molotov at Stalin's behest.[2] Kurchatov received support from Georgi Flerov, who pointed out that if Stalin liquidated Kurchatov and his team, there would be no one left in the country who had the knowledge and the expertise to build the bomb.[3] This was probably a good thing as ultimately, Kurchatov and Flerov concluded that they were four years from building another bomb.[4]

Despite this time lag, Molotov agreed that eliminating Kurchatov and his team was detrimental to the country. Thus, when Stalin began toying with the idea of doing just that and replacing them with people with a "greater understanding of the subject," Molotov was able to convince him otherwise at great personal risk.[5]

However, it soon became clear to Kurchatov that he and his team did not have the knowledge and resources to complete the bomb.[6] In desperation, Kurchatov appealed to Molotov for foreign aid.[7] In response, Molotov began to make arrangements for help from the United States.[8]

Shortly after, an American physicist named Max Kagan arrived. While it would still be some time before Kurchatov would produce plutonium, Kagan's help was tremendous.[9] This included building an atomic pile[10]


  1. Tilting the Balance, pgs. 360-362.
  2. Ibid., pg. 363.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid., pgs. 363-364.
  5. Upsetting the Balance, pgs. 480-482.
  6. Striking the Balance, pg. 21-22.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid., pg. 23.
  9. Ibid., pgs. 161-164.
  10. Ibid., pg. 303.