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TWT
21st Sep 2013, 09:17
US nearly detonated atomic bomb over North Carolina ? secret document | World news | The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/20/usaf-atomic-bomb-north-carolina-1961)

Loose rivets
21st Sep 2013, 09:43
A much more realistic photo on the Beeb. Oh, the humanity.


BBC News - US plane in 1961 'nuclear bomb near-miss' (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-24183879)

P6 Driver
21st Sep 2013, 09:54
Just waiting for the first person to comment that if such a bomb had detonated over Chatham, UK, it could have caused up to 35 worth of damage.
;)



Oops! - looks like it was me then...

Blacksheep
21st Sep 2013, 09:54
As this weapon assumed it was being released over an enemy target, surely the fact that it didn't detonate casts doubt on the reliability of the USA's nuclear arsenal?

BOAC
21st Sep 2013, 10:07
Why on earth was the bomb 'armed' over mainland USA? Just a few hours (one hopes!) away from any potential target. Admittedly I have only dropped 'tiddlers' by comparison, but they were never 'made live' until well onto the target run.

I had assumed they would only be 'armed' on receipt of the 'order', and hopefully they were not playing 'war games' with live jobbies :eek:

doubleu-anker
21st Sep 2013, 10:28
One wonders.

It is only through divine (or otherwise), intervention we haven't had a real screw up. Of that I am convinced.

ORAC
21st Sep 2013, 10:43
The other way to view it is that they had multiple safety systems and they worked.

It should also be noted that even if the last switch had been made there would have been no explosion, as the High Voltage thermal battery in the weapon had not been activated and no electric current was available to discharge the x-ray unit in the warhead.

They reviewed the system after the accident and added additional systems to add further redundancy and eventually stopped airborne alerts.

See here, as usual copy and replace the asterisk with 'o'.

http://nuclearweaponsaccidents.bl*gspot.co.uk

Loose rivets
21st Sep 2013, 10:54
One of the main premises of my novel is about non-intervention. The protagonist rails against certain beings not helping mankind while they have the power to put the world right in a moment. This is grist for the mill for the sequel - I'll try to plug it in somewhere.

A switch . . . one old-fashioned switch, just failed at a vital moment. Yep, sounds like serendipity on full throttle. However . . .

Do you remember those flat torches - the ones that used 4.5v batteries? Fitted in the uniform jacket pocket a threat they did. I decided to make one fit for pilots by fitting a toggle switch from a bomb release panel - a small Bakelite toggle - and soldering all the joints, even to the blob on the end of the bulb. I proudly showed it to my F/O . . . moments before the insides of the switch fell to pieces.

TWT
21st Sep 2013, 11:34
Good find ORAC ;)

VP959
21st Sep 2013, 11:49
That link that ORAC gave describes a procedure similar to the one I'm vaguely familiar with. In our case the guy in the back had the "special weapons" control box and the guy in the front had the wire locked MASS (master armament safety switch). The special weapons box needed specific sequences to make the weapon live and even then it'd only actually be dropped live if the guy in front selected the MASS, which was only done on the final run in.

Finally, by default the fuzing units (which secure the arming lanyard) would have been deactivated in normal flight, as they need aircraft applied power to lock and allow the arming lanyard (the last link in the chain) to operate.

I'm certain the USAF would have very similar systems, especially as the weapon I'm familiar with was a US made one anyway.

tony draper
21st Sep 2013, 11:53
I understand one of our early nuclear weapons had to have a whole load of lead shot poured out a hole in the bottom before it would detonate,imagine that job 40,000 feet over Moscow,undoing a bung at the bottom on a bomb casing with frozen hands in the bomb bay with triple A going orf all around you.
"Bomb aimer I cant get the bung out, just drop the fecker will you,oops wait until I'm out of here"
:rolleyes:

mikedreamer787
21st Sep 2013, 12:00
IMHO had it happened, the US wouldnt've been dumb
enough to instantly blame the Russkis. No, it would've
had a far reaching angry and emotional look at...China.

ORAC
21st Sep 2013, 12:04
That link that ORAC gave describes a procedure similar to the one I'm vaguely familiar with

B-52 nuclear onboard safety systems and procedures of the period described here, page 18 onwards.

Project Dominic (http://www.ufosnw.com/documents/projectdominic1962/projectdominicreport.pdf)

I.R.PIRATE
21st Sep 2013, 12:21
Also check out the Tybee incident. Makes for good reading and the bomb is allegedly still MIA.

1958 Tybee Island mid-air collision - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1958_Tybee_Island_mid-air_collision)

Fareastdriver
21st Sep 2013, 12:42
This so-called 'news' was pretty common knowledge in the sixties.

TWT
21st Sep 2013, 12:45
The only 'news' really is the now declassified letter the Guardian published.

airship
21st Sep 2013, 13:00
Hmmm. So exactly "what went wrong" aboard a USN submarine sailing in the proximity off the west coast of Northern Sumatra back in late 2004?

Was it just a mine or torpedo (equipped with a small nuclear warhead) which "just had to be jettisoned rapidly" from the vessel, a complete "accident" resulting in...?! "They" just wanted to know what the affects of detonating a small nuclear weapon in the sea off San Francisco and over a major fault-line might produce...?! :uhoh:

We'll get closer to the truth in approx. 50 years... :ugh:

pigboat
21st Sep 2013, 15:03
IR there used to be an excellent seafood restaurant at the marina on Tybee Island. Standard statement was "If the bomb goes off, hope it's before they bring the check."

SASless
21st Sep 2013, 18:17
PB.....like it would really matter one way or the other!

I cannot believe that Bomb has not been found yet....Lord knows there are plenty of Shrimp boats working that area dragging the bottom with their nets.

It makes one wonder if it found its way ashore and landed in the marsh and hid itself in the muck.

I would think the US DOE has airborne equipment capable of sniffing out the location if there is in fact a nuclear core in the bomb....assuming it is on land and not under a lot of water.

Without going into details....I have seen some of the kit they do have and it is pretty impressive.

Krystal n chips
21st Sep 2013, 18:29
" In our case the guy in the back had the "special weapons" control box and the guy in the front had the wire locked MASS (master armament safety switch). The special weapons box needed specific sequences to make the weapon live and even then it'd only actually be dropped live if the guy in front selected the MASS, which was only done on the final run in.

And then along came...the Jaguar.

500N
21st Sep 2013, 18:34
SaSless

I am surprised with all the modern technology they don't go looking
for the other missing aircraft / bombs, especially in the Med.

Fitter2
21st Sep 2013, 20:17
Boring to report that detailed studies show there was no chance whatever of there being a thermonuclear explosion in the event reported. Doesn't make nearly such a good story.

I understand one of our early nuclear weapons had to have a whole load of lead shot poured out a hole in the bottom before it would detonate, imagine that job 40,000 feet over Moscow, undoing a bung at the bottom on a bomb casing with frozen hands in the bomb bay with triple A going orf all around you. "Bomb aimer I cant get the bung out, just drop the fecker will you, oops wait until I'm out of here"

That was indeed the ground safety system on the early RAF A-bombs ('violet club'). The ball bearings had to be removed before take-off to arm the weapon. Rather improved safety systems rapidly followed. There may be someone better informed who could say whether an armed Violet Club was ever airborne - I doubt it.

tony draper
21st Sep 2013, 20:25
Information on the beast here.:uhoh:

http://aviationtrivia.********.co.uk/2011/12/violet-club-quite-possibly-worst.html

G-CPTN
21st Sep 2013, 20:26
The solution by British designers was to fill the center of the HEU sphere with 20,000 steel ball bearings to prevent the sphere from being crushed and reaching critical mass. To arm the bomb, a plastic plug was removed from the bottom of the warhead (accessible via a hatch on the underside of the Violet Club casing) that allowed the bearings to flow out, thereby arming the bomb.

While it may sound like a creative solution, there were several issues:


The weight of the ball-bearings increased the bomb's weight to 11,250 lbs which was greater than the capacity of not only the bomb release mechanisms of the V-bombers but also the ground-transport equipment of the bomb.
The outflow of bearings took at least half an hour under ideal conditions- in cold weather, the bearings could freeze together, making arming the weapon near-impossible.
Once the bomb was armed by allowing the ball-bearings to flow out of the center of the warhead, there was on way of making the weapon safe again. In fact, engine running was prohibited even with Violet Club "safed" as it was feared vibration would cause the plastic plug to fall out and inadvertantly arm the weapon.
Because the bomb was armed irreversibly, airborne alerts were impossible because take off and landing were too hazardous to attempt with an armed Violet Club.
Dispersal of the V-force to outlying fields was impossible as the bomb couldn't be flown to the dispersal airfield and the bomb transport equipment couldn't handle the Violet Club when it had its ball-bearings in place.

While the Air Staff of the RAF ordered twelve Violet Club bombs, only five were made and as British author Chris Gibson put it in his book Vulcan's Hammer "From the RAF's point of view, that was five too many."

From:- http://aviationtrivia.********.co.uk/2011/12/violet-club-quite-possibly-worst.html

tony draper
21st Sep 2013, 20:27
Must still be classified Mr G-C.:rolleyes:

Fareastdriver
21st Sep 2013, 21:45
No chance. That was in the fifties.

tony draper
21st Sep 2013, 22:10
Twas tongue in cheek Mr Far,but there will still be stuff from further back than that's still classified.
:uhoh:

TWT
21st Sep 2013, 23:30
The problems encountered with the 'Interim Megaton Weapon' leads me to believe it was built by British Leyland :p

cattletruck
22nd Sep 2013, 01:35
The outflow of bearings took at least half an hour under ideal conditions- in cold weather, the bearings could freeze together, making arming the weapon near-impossible.

You could whack it with a hammer to get it started again, just like your British Leyland :}.

onetrack
22nd Sep 2013, 02:05
Once the bomb was armed by allowing the ball-bearings to flow out of the center of the warhead, there was no way of making the weapon safe again
The mind boggles. What about the heat reflecting from the ground on a 40C day softening the plastic plug, and letting the ball bearings go? The people who designed this bomb, make Leyland car engineers look like smooth professionals.

lomapaseo
22nd Sep 2013, 02:47
I had to do a vulnerability assessment on the cargo in an aircraft carrying one of those over civilians. Initially they wouldn't tell me what it was, so I concluded off the top of my head it was easily safe to one in a million. Then they told me that wasn't good enough and to sharpen my pencil. Then I got the drift that the risk was not to the aircraft but to a large city

tony draper
22nd Sep 2013, 10:04
Well we can take some pride in the fact that the largest yield Fission Weapon ever detonated was one of ours,a 500 kiloton jobby no less.:E

TWT
22nd Sep 2013, 11:14
Where was that one let off Mr.D. ?

tony draper
22nd Sep 2013, 11:20
Probably Podlonia,that's the only place we Nuked,or mebee Bikini Atoll,one missremembers now,I think it was to fool Ivan into thinking we had built a fusion bomb as the one we were working on wasn't finished at the time.
:rolleyes:

TWT
22nd Sep 2013, 11:52
Britain's Nuclear Weapons - British Nuclear Testing (http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Uk/UKTesting.html)

Ones a lot bigger than 500kt in this list.A couple of 3Mt airburst sunshine buckets off Christmas Island.

tony draper
22nd Sep 2013, 19:58
The bigger yielding ones were Fusion not fission weapons.
Interestingly one of our Nukes was code named the Tony.:rolleyes:

dead_pan
23rd Sep 2013, 08:08
Just waiting for the first person to comment that if such a bomb had detonated over Chatham, UK, it could have caused up to £35 worth of damage.




Oops! - looks like it was me then...

In similar vein, if it had detonated over Croydon it would have caused £35bn worth of improvements



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OFSO
23rd Sep 2013, 21:52
Anyone know about the "Hamburg Incident" this year ? Read on:

http://i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu287/ROBIN_100/PI5Send1_zps78eba1db.jpg

TWT
26th Sep 2013, 20:15
BBC News - Stanislav Petrov: The man who may have saved the world (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24280831)