back to article An anniversary to remember: The world's only air-to-air nuke was fired on 19 July, 1957

The date was 19 July, the year was 1957 and America was worried that the Soviet Union could amass too many bomber squadrons to be stopped. That's why it ran its one-and-only test of one of the oddest ideas to emerge in the Cold War: a nuclear-armed air-to-air missile? The resulting armament, the AIR-2 Genie, was made by …

  1. Big-nosed Pengie

    Jubilant morons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And the sons and daughters are now obsessed building 'white elephant' Hinkley Point C.

      1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Who cares if the elephant is white or not, as long as it can carry the load.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Better than sitting in the dark when all the green wind turbines stop turning when the wind stops.

    2. asdf Silver badge

      I'm sure its mentioned below but this is a tl;dr forum. As far as unique one offs the nuclear bomb artillery shot was my favorite.

      Then you have shit like this - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davy_Crockett_%28nuclear_device%29 and realize this is not a topic to glorify at all. Nukes were grand until nearly human on earth for the first time in our species history had significant amounts of Strontium-90 in their bones. The Boomers still do.

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Stupid

    They could have just built a (admittedly rather high) wall to keep the rooskies out

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Stupid

      And get the Russians to pay for it?

      Are you Donald Trump in disguise?

    2. mr.K

      Re: Stupid

      You are the stupid one. If they had built a wall then how on Earth would Sarah Palin have gotten her foreign policy experience.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stupid

        ahhh.... dooyyyy... You put a *window* in the wall. so she can see Russia from her house. ugh! do I have to think of evvvvverything?

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    A 300 metre fatal blast radius for a bomber formation? I wonder how many bombers that would have taken out? Were they expecting the Russians to launch mass bomber raids as the Allies did in WWII? I remember hearing about the Genie when I was a kid, and not too many folks where I lived bought the idea. But then, we lived near a SAC/TAC base too....

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      @Mark 85 - Given the size of a bomber formation 300 meters does seem like it would take out more than a handful of planes. However, the warhead would have more efficient than WW11 flak as it would more likely for one warhead to take out 2 or 3 planes completely.

      If this was nuclear strike, one question I have always had, what happens to the bombs and warheads on the destroyed bombers? Presumably they are already armed.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        In WW!!, the arming pins weren't pulled until the bomb bay doors were opened. I have no idea about nukes. I thought the bombs dropped on Japan were armed in a similar fashion. I could be wrong. There were some B-52 crashes with live a-bombs on board and none of them blew. One did contaminate a large (for some value of large) area on the east coast.

        The big fear we had where I lived wasn't bombers but the ICBM's coming in from the north. The base we lived near was supposedly high on the target list.

        Very weird time back in the '50's and '60's. There were even places in Nevada that offered "resort weekends" or something like that to tourists to come and watch the nuke tests. I think my mom still has a brochure from some hotel in a town next to White Sands.

        1. Baldy50

          Amusing reactions when you talk about growing up during the cold war to someone young and waiting for the advertisements to finish, a public information film would be shown now and then telling you what to do if the sirens went off.

          1. Triggerfish

            @Baldy50

            I don't think enough small children get to go to school nowadays and come back terrified after the cartoon they thought they were going to watch turns out to be "When the wind blows".

          2. JLV Silver badge

            @Baldy50

            which is also why, much as it is horrible, the risk from current Islamic fundamentalism needs to be kept in context - it is nowhere near the threat level of the USSR <=> US/Western confrontation. Or indeed the number of deaths that came out of it.

            Not to be complacent, but we've outfoxed the USSR, surely we can outfox a bunch of moronic backward zealots whose idea of PR includes killing lots of people of their own religion and starving the economies of their host countries in the Middle East. It'll take time, many innocents will die and it will often seem like the world is getting ever worse along the way. But they will lose and the world will move on.

        2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

          "In WW!!, the arming pins weren't pulled until the bomb bay doors were opened. I have no idea about nukes."

          Fat Man (Nagasaki) was a complicated beast, so it had to be armed before takeoff. Causing some, ahem, anxiety for the bomber crew.

          Hiroshima bomb was activated midflight. No nice red buttons though. Weaponeer had to crawl into the bomb bay and attach explosives to the bomb.

          Later designs have undoubtedly been improved a bit.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            AFAIK to arm the Hiroshima bomb all the crew had to do was to replace green pins with red ones. Then the bomb emitted a sound to confirm it was armed. IIRC one of the original green pins was found when Enola Gay was restored.

          2. AceRimmer1980
            Mushroom

            Re:Weaponeer had to crawl into the bomb bay

            Did anyone else hear 'When Johnny comes marching home' at this image?

          3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            "Hiroshima bomb was activated midflight. No nice red buttons though. Weaponeer had to crawl into the bomb bay and attach explosives to the bomb."

            Did he not also have to remove a physical barrier between the ring (projectile part) of the bomb, and the spike, intended to prevent a fizzle if the plane crashed and the shock caused the ring and the spike to meet?

            As for Castle Bravo, from what I understand they practically had to build a chemical plant, it was the biggest laboratory explosion ever.

          4. TheOtherHobbes

            Some of the UK designs were safetied with ball bearings inside a rubber sheath. Arming meant removing the sheath and allowing the ball bearings to roll out.

        3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Very weird time back in the '50's and '60's. There were even places in Nevada that offered "resort weekends" or something like that to tourists to come and watch the nuke tests

          Wasn't there even an Abbot and Costello film where they were in one of the dummy towns and got irradiated, so that every time they passed a slot machine in Vegas it paid out? Weird times indeed.

          1. Triggerfish

            @Phil O'Sophical

            There's also the plans to use Nukes as basically big digging machines, (project ploughshare), at one point I think they contemplated making the Panama canal by just nuking a trench across Panama.

            1. qwertyuiop

              Re: @Phil O'Sophical

              Ummm... the Panama Canal opened in 1914, so I doubt they were considering nukes as a way of building it!

              1. collinsl

                Re: @Phil O'Sophical

                They wished to expand it to allow multiple ships through next to each other (and in both directions at once!)

              2. Triggerfish

                Re: @Phil O'Sophical - @ qwertyuiop

                You are correct and I am wrong, a quick look and search says it was to widen the canal.

              3. cray74

                Re: @Phil O'Sophical

                the Panama Canal opened in 1914, so I doubt they were considering nukes as a way of building it!

                The US was considering nukes to make a sea level canal in the Panama/Nicaraguan isthmus.

            2. collinsl

              Re: @Phil O'Sophical

              They also planned on diverting rivers in Western Europe so as to not serve Eastern Bloc nations, to modify the weather and expel all the heavy rain to Russia (only allowing light, gentle rain to fall on the US wheatfields), and to use the moon as a test target (largely destroying it by the time they had finished).

              There were even plans for atomic artillery, and atomic bullets with roughly the power of a hand grenade to blow up enemy (commies naturally) forces.

              1. Mark 85 Silver badge

                @collinsl -- Re: @Phil O'Sophical

                There were even plans for atomic artillery, and atomic bullets with roughly the power of a hand grenade to blow up enemy (commies naturally) forces.

                Actually it was beyond planning... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M65_atomic_cannon

                1. Not That Andrew

                  Re: @collinsl -- @Phil O'Sophical

                  Not to forget the SADM https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Atomic_Demolition_Munition

                  or the Davy Crockett recoilless rifle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davy_Crockett_(nuclear_device)

        4. TeeCee Gold badge

          IIRC, the specialist on Enola Gay was so worried about the possibility of the thing going off if something went wrong on takeoff, he elected to remove the fuse and explosive trigger. Reassembling same in the bomb bay while in flight was both painful and time-consuming, as the thing hadn't been designed to provide access when in situ.

          Tests on the ground had proved it was possible to do this, but only just.

          1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

            Yup, that's a good recollection.

            "Parsons, the Enola Gay's weaponeer, was concerned about the possibility of an accidental detonation if the plane crashed in takeoff, so he decided not to load the four cordite powder bags into the gun breech until the aircraft was in flight."

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Boy

          2. Brian Morrison

            It was a fairly pointless safety measure too, the weapon had a cadmium safety wire which was inserted into the stationary part of the warhead but if surrounded by water there was enough uranium 235 to reach critical mass. Had the aircraft gone into the water if it couldn't maintain altitude it is quite likely that a low-yield nuclear explosion would have occurred.

            The Little Boy design fired a hollow piece of U235 onto a solid cylinder containing more U235, because there was essentially no compression the design relied on very large amounts of fissile material. It was a stopgap weapon and there was no intention to build more than one, although in fact more were built because of the need to prevent the Hanford reactors being damaged by the Wigner effect (stressing the reactor cores due to unexpected nuclear reactions).

        5. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "The big fear we had where I lived wasn't bombers but the ICBM's coming in from the north. The base we lived near was supposedly high on the target list."

          There were enough ICBMs on both sides to take out _all_ bases on both sides and drop a few on Podunk Idaho/Siberia just to make a point.

          Nuclear brinkmanship was a lose-lose game.

          1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
            Mushroom

            WOPR got it right

            "Nuclear brinkmanship was a lose-lose game."

            ITYM

            "THE ONLY WINNING MOVE IS NOT TO PLAY."

            1. Sam 15

              Re: WOPR got it right

              "Nuclear brinkmanship was a lose-lose game."

              ITYM

              "THE ONLY WINNING MOVE IS NOT TO PLAY."

              Others might describe this as taking a tambourine to a gun fight.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            ICBMs was the end of air to air nukes etc

            Once ICBMs become common, it was excepted that shooting them down was not an option, so "air to air nukes" etc stop being made.

            1. mmeier

              Re: ICBMs was the end of air to air nukes etc

              Actually no. The Safeguard (US) and Galosh (USSR) ABM systems used nuclear warheads to intercept ICBMs. At least the US system had both Space (Spartan) and Air (Sprint) interceptors.

              The ABM treaty was a clever Commie Plot since it allowed two systems per nation only. Doable in a dictatorship (The system still exists and has been upgraded quite a few times) not doable in a democracy...

              And according to some sources the S-300 and S-400 SAM (that do have an ABM capacity designed in) do have the option of a nuclear warhead as well for exactly that job...

            2. bombastic bob Silver badge

              Re: ICBMs was the end of air to air nukes etc

              "Once ICBMs become common, it was excepted that shooting them down was not an option, so "air to air nukes" etc stop being made."

              In the world of anti-submarine warfare, something called 'SUBROC' was invented in about the same general time frame, to take out a ballistic missile submarine that was about to shoot its missiles. The principle was the same: large blast area, large kill zone. you just had to be 'close'. Sadly, shooting one was almost a guaranteed suicide mission...

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UUM-44_SUBROC

              however, like you pointed out, ICBMs made bombing planes obsolete, so air-air nukes were unnecessary (and impractical). And things *like* SUBROC were eventually abandoned.

              /me thinks: "Nuke 'em 'till they glow, then shoot 'em in the dark."

          3. SundogUK

            Which was exactly the point. It's called 'Mutually Assured Destruction.'

        6. collinsl

          Fat Man and Little Boy were armed by people crawling over them in the bomb bay to do various things (including inserting fuses iirc).

          More modern bombs were/are armed electronically by the weapon engineer or bombardier.

          In the crash cases the regular explosive in the bombs went off in a few cases, but because the bombs weren't armed all it did was scatter casing and nuclear material over a wide area, rather than nuking the east coast of the USA or Southern Spain or a bit of ocean etc.

          The one in Spain was a bit of an embarrassment, as the US had to pay to resettle people and haul away millions of tons of topsoil for burial in the US.

        7. HPCJohn

          Regarding arming the atomic weapons on board the Enola Gay - yes.

          Captain Deke Parsons had to crawl into the bomb bay, and insert the arming plugs into the tail of the bomb whilst it was in flight.

          I believe the fear with the Little boy gun-based bomb was fear of what would happen if the B29 failed to take off, and crashed on the runway.

          I might have this wrong - I don't have the books to hand to check.

      2. Captain DaFt

        "one question I have always had, what happens to the bombs and warheads on the destroyed bombers?"

        Well, I'm not a nuclear physicist, but I'd hazard that any armed bombs on planes in the fireball might detonate, but most likely "fizzle", making the blast cloud that much more radioactive.

        Outside the fireball, but near it, some might detonate or "fizzle", most would have their detonators wrecked (along with the plane and crew) and crash. A few might survive to detonate when they hit blast altitude.

        Safely outside the blast radius, lots of brown stains on the seating and uniform trousers of the bombing crews.

        I hope they were planning on this taking place over the oceans, because there would be a lot of highly radioactive debris coming down! (and downwind!)

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "I hope they were planning on this taking place over the oceans, because there would be a lot of highly radioactive debris coming down! "

          Bomb grade Plutonium/Uranium isn't particularly radioactive (but it is fairly chemically toxic).

          These are small bombs (1500tons of TNT eqwuivalent) so in the event of a detonation/fizzle there's not much leftover and we already know from atmospheric tests what to expect downwind (don't forget that "highly radioactive" == "very short lived")

          FWIW, the vast majority of the nukes on both sides were fairly small - this size or smaller. I'm just glad they were never used.

        2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Mushroom

          We, it turned out, lived near a Nike missile launch site (Needham, MA, outside Boston). Details easily Googleable, but these bad boys were ground to air missiles, launched to defend against incoming Russkie bombers. Aside from the nuclear versions, the biggest hazard to us civilians was the fact that they were two stage, and the expended first stage was dropped not too far from the launch site.

          Duck and cover, indeed.

          It's now a park, but I remember exploring the remains of the site as a teen, and parts of the structures were still present, though the site had been abandoned for 10 years or so. It's now a park.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            "We, it turned out, lived near a Nike missile launch site "

            They were going to fire over-priced trainers at the Russians? Surely that was against the Geneva Convention? Oh, the humanity!

          2. Vic

            We, it turned out, lived near a Nike missile launch site

            Just Bomb IT™?

            Vic.

    2. thames

      @Mark 85 - They were unguided rockets, not guided missiles. Air to air guided missiles were in their very early days when these were developed. I imagine they would be happy if one rocket took out one bomber, considering how much damage a single bomber could do.

      Canada had them as well. The warheads technically remained the property of the US in order to get around non-proliferation treaty rules.

      In the event of a war, the Soviet bombers would have come over the Arctic Ocean. There were three successive lines of radar stations to track them as they approached - the DEW, Mid-Canada, and Pine Tree Lines (going from north to south). The objective would have been to shoot the bombers down before they reached heavily populated areas.

    3. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      @Mark 85 re: blast radius.

      While the blast radius on any one rocket might be limited, they didn't intend on launching only a single rocket at anything. They envisioned sending *swarms* of them at any single target & essentially giving "overkill" a grisley new definition.

      If you detected 100 bombers inbound then you sent up a thousand fighters & loaded each one with it's full compliment of rockets. If even only one rocket in ten did it's job, there would STILL be a 100:1 rocket:bomber ratio to guarantee the elimination of the threat.

      I also lived near a SAC/TAC base - specificly McClellan AFB in Sacramento, California. My dad worked there & at Mather AFB doing gods know what in the war effort, & I was made _all_too_well_aware_ of the kinds of capabilities Our Boys In Whites could get up to in the air. It was a very scary/impressive thing to see the ramps at Mather full to bursting with "Launch Ready" fighters sitting on the tarmac, even more at "Zero Plus Five" or "Plus Ten" minutes waiting nearby, & every single one of them armed to the talons with rockets, missiles, & bombs galore. When my dad told me that "what you see there [at Mather] was just the *back up* to what was ready [at McClellan]", it was nearly enough to make me soil my shorts. It may have been officialy a "Cold War" but that doesn't mean the men & women of the military weren't ready, willing, & hot blooded to do what had to be done. =-/

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: @Mark 85 re: blast radius.

        If you detected 100 bombers inbound then you sent up a thousand fighters & loaded each one with it's full compliment of rockets. If even only one rocket in ten did it's job, there would STILL be a 100:1 rocket:bomber ratio to guarantee the elimination of the threat.

        Unless those fighters don't have anything like the ceiling or the speed of the bombers (and it looks like the Scorpion would), then surely that sort of numerical advantage would mean that cannon fire would be just as effective (and a lot less messy)? No-one wants a nuclear aerospaceageinferno in their airspace if they can possibly avoid it.

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: @Mark 85 re: blast radius.

          "...surely that sort of numerical advantage would mean that cannon fire would be just as effective (and a lot less messy)?"

          Very true. But much less profitable.

        2. TheWeenie

          Re: @Mark 85 re: blast radius.

          No-one wants a nuclear aerospaceageinferno in their airspace if they can possibly avoid it.

          Given what the scores of Russkies were presumably intending to do, I'd say a relatively small nuclear conflagration in the troposphere in a sparsely populated area would be more desirable than a nuclear armageddon at ground level in your cities.

      2. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: @Mark 85 re: blast radius.

        I don't suppose it occurred to them that the radioactivity caused by thousands of those air-to-air missiles would probably do just as much damage as the bombers they were trying to stop.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: @Mark 85 re: blast radius.

          "I don't suppose it occurred to them that the radioactivity caused by thousands of those air-to-air missiles would probably do just as much damage as the bombers they were trying to stop."

          Yes, but mainly over Canada. So not really as much of a problem for the US. </sarc>

      3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: @Mark 85 re: blast radius.

        Surely the Russians would send up decoy bombers and fighter escorts? In that scenario, one in a hundred carrying a nuclear bomb.

        I assume that a nuclear attack by bomber would be a Dresden style raid, ie: the full force of the Russian Airforce. I can't imagine they'd send one bomber per bomb and leave it at that.

    4. DougS Silver badge

      300 meter blast radius

      What stops you from spacing the bombers further apart than that to prevent a bomb from taking out more than one bomber?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 300 meter blast radius

        Remember the main Soviet bomber of the 1950s was an "unlicensed" B-29 - actually an exact copy of it made reverse engineering captured ones after emergency landing following strikes over Japan.

        Spacing bombers may make it easier for air defense to take down one after another. Sometimes you may need to "overload" a single area to ensure enough bombers gets past layers of heavy defenses because they're simple unable to take down enough. Remember also navigation technology of the time required sextants and the like to fly over long routes with enough precision, formation flying make it less problematic.

        Moreover AA missile of the 1950s were still primitive, and unguided. Korea air fights were made still using guns. A formation of bombers was still effective to counter interceptors using guns, while unguided missiles could have been not enough effective. A missile with a large lethal radius could have looked a solution.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: 300 meter blast radius

        I think this was a development version and in no way a 'production' piece.

        The smallest bomb you can make is about 200 tonnes TNT equivalent - that what just banging a couple of sub-critical hemispheres together. To get bigger blasts you start adding a lot of weight - in 1957 I'd guess the missile that carried this also vibrated like shit and so for a demo to scare the ruskies you would produce a small light but more importantly reliable warhead that proves the point. Adding clever explosives and special detonators required to make a bigger bang would simply have been too unreliable,

        This version would never have been used in actual combat - as you point out 300m is pretty useless as that's 2 second of flight for a slooooow bomber.

        What you really need is Tsar Bomba - that would have cleared the skies for miles, or as Chocolate Starfish Prime showed you could use one to knock most planes out of the sky in a thousand mile radius,

      3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Doug S Re: 300 meter blast radius

        "What stops you from spacing the bombers further apart than that to prevent a bomb from taking out more than one bomber?" The Soviets had three problems with that idea.

        Firstly, their bombers were very vulnerable to interceptors when flying alone or widely-spaced. Their most common bomber was still the Tu-4 copy of the WW2-era B-29 Superfortress and their best the Tu-16 (roughly equivalent to the B-52 but without the electronics). The Soviet fighters simply didn't have the range or performance to act as escorts (their long-range interceptor, the Yak-25 couldn't dogfight, and their best dogfighter, the MiG-15, didn't have the range). And in 1958 the Red Chinese suffered a very nasty shock during the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, when American Sidewinder AAMs were used for the first time. For the Soviets, this meant every USAF interceptor in the late '50s had a very good chance of shooting down singleton Soviet bombers outside the range of their defensive cannon. The only recourse was to fly in big swarms and hope cross-fire would keep the interceptors at bay.

        The second reason was the Soviets simply didn't have the advanced navigation tools and training of the US's SAC bomber crews, often getting lost when sent out alone on Artic exercises. The Soviet answer was to have a few highly-trained lead bombers and then have the rest stay in visual range of their lead bomber, making them vulnerable to weapons like Genie if intercepted over the Artic ice.

        The third reason they didn't fly widely spaced was because the Soviet high command worried that individual crews could not be trusted not to defect!

        /"Hamster Huey And The Big Kablooie" icon, natch.

    5. Adam 1 Silver badge

      it's worse than you think

      They really didn't think this through. Those bombers just outside the immediate death threshold would evolve mutant superpowers. Then you really would be screwed.

    6. Triggerfish

      Isn't that 300 meter fireball, plus shockwave, plus EMP*, plus heat flash thats of a larger radius than a fireball. Figure the additional invisible effects would cause problems.

      *Maybe not consideirng the electronics.

    7. TonyJ Silver badge

      "...A 300 metre fatal blast radius for a bomber formation? I wonder how many bombers that would have taken out?..."

      Don't forget the EMP. I would doubt very much that the bombers of the day would have had hardened systems to cope with it.

      1. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

        "Don't forget the EMP. I would doubt very much that the bombers of the day would have had hardened systems to cope with it."

        Do valves/tubes need to be hardened to resist EMP? No doubt a strong enough EMP would damage them, but I'm pretty sure they're more resistant than those new-fangled transistor thingies.

        1. Boothy

          EMP blast

          I suspect they'd probably loose radio comms for a short while, but would otherwise go (relatively) unharmed outside of the primary blast/heat area.

      2. mmeier

        In the 1950s they likely still used vacuum tubes...

        1. TonyJ Silver badge

          "...In the 1950s they likely still used vacuum tubes..."

          Vacuum tubes are not entirely resistant to EMP. Also, take into account the fact that the nuclear explosions would be relatively close.

          1. Jan 0

            > "Vacuum tubes are not entirely resistant to EMP."

            But they don't matter once the EMP has fused the coils (inductors) and condensers (capacitors).

      3. Adrian Midgley 1

        Valves...

        Which are not that bothered.

        And gears and bicycle chains.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: Valves...

          "Valves...

          Which are not that bothered."

          Nuvistors and their Russian copies are fairly rad-hard, as are conventional valves. The problems lie more with inductors and capacitors, as enough radiation (rather than EMP) may cause insulation to break down in capacitors. Modern capacitors are remarkably tolerant of internal discharge - "self healing" capacitors - but I suspect the ones used in avionics in the 1950s would be less tolerant. And then EMP may induce high enough voltages in inductors to cause insulation breakdown. The biggest problem we had in making {redacted} EMP-proof eventually involved a very complex design of a coil. The microprocessor in the middle of it all was very well shielded with little difficulty.

      4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        > Don't forget the EMP.

        The bombers of the day had no (or very little) electronic. Yes - they had electrics but the 'fabric and rubber' type stuff they had wasn't particularly susceptible.

      5. Tom 7 Silver badge

        @TonyJ re emp

        for emp to work you really need to set the thing off outside the atmosphere so the pulse does not cancel itself out.

      6. Robert 22

        Actually, they would have relied mostly on vacuum tube electronics that would be much more tolerant of EMP than the solid state equipment that came later

  4. WonkoTheSane
    Headmaster

    Chase plane

    The "unidentified" chase plane has the distinctive wing shape of an English Electric Canberra, built under licence in USA as the Martin B-57.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_B-57_Canberra

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Chase plane

      And amazingly, while the B-57 retired in 1984 (1986 with Pakistan) the English Electric version carried on until 2006.

      It even saw action in Tony Blair's Murderous Rampage Iraq war in 2003.

      1. WonkoTheSane

        Re: Chase plane

        Actually, NASA still fly 3 of the WB-57 variant:-

        http://jsc-aircraft-ops.jsc.nasa.gov/wb57/

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Chase plane

          The NASA WB-57's were still being used to tie together various different comms networks in Afghanistan as recently as a few years ago:

          https://theaviationist.com/2013/02/08/wb57-heading-to-afghanistan/

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    just goes to show how little ...

    radiation damage there is from nuclear explosions, or in a nuclear weapon.

    the whole 'scare of radiation' meme was constructed as a cold war propaganda tactic.

    its hard to find anyone who has died from radiation, anywhere in the world.

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: just goes to show how little ...

      My paternal GrandFather used to work at the AeroJet GenCorp facility in Folsom, California as a R&D scientist for the military. I had No Need To Know about what his duties might entail, but what I can say with certainty is that the day he came home & showed us his employee ID badge cum radioactivity dosimeter badge that had turned bright red. His last words to us were a heartfelt goodbye as he packed a few belongings & carted his dying arse off to the Air Force Base at the end of town to be seen at the Base hospital. He never came home & GrandMa has the folded flag as her present for his service.

      So yes folks have died from radioactivity, they just aren't turned into news articles that the Military Industrial Complex lets get out for public consumption. My GrandFather is one such non-story. =-/

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: just goes to show how little ...

        Well, for public consumption, there were the Japanese and most recently, the Ukrainians at Chernobyl. I've heard of others from various accidents. Radiation sickness is not a pleasant way to die.

      2. Ian Emery Silver badge

        Re: just goes to show how little ...

        I would just like to add Cheylnabinsk (spl?) to the above.

        After several accidents at the nuclear weapons factory the area was so heavily contaminated with radioactive debris that Chernobyl looks like a minor spill.

        The life expectancy is/was ~50, and until recently, doctors were'nt allowed to list cancer as the cause of death.

        I would also like to point out the rise in cancer rate amongst the population of the WHOLE WORLD since the US and USSR started exploding nukes left, right and centre in the 1950's.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: just goes to show how little ...

          "I would also like to point out the rise in cancer rate amongst the population of the WHOLE WORLD since the US and USSR started exploding nukes left, right and centre in the 1950's."

          The greater cause of that is that more people are living long enough to GET cancer since the 1950s, thanks to antibiotics and vaccines.

          Radiation doesn't generally cause much in the way of cancers as cells tend to be killed rather than mutated. Chemical and localised heat exposure is a far more serious issue - cancer rates are highest around pollution hotspots (love canal, B2 assembly workers, Minimata Bay, chinese solar PV manufacturing areas, coal ash slurry environs, etc), not radiation ones.

          With regard to Chebalinsk it's worth noting that bomb-grade Plutonium isn't particularly radioactive, but it's a potent chemical poison/carcinogen. The USA has its own nuclear waste sites (Hanford).

          Whilst everyone wibbles on about Chernobyl it's worth noting that the world's COAL burning power plants emit more radium and other radioactives each _year_ than several chernobyls but noone get sup in arms about that. Then there's the fun factoid of how radioactive the average smoker's lungs are.

        2. fpx
          Alert

          Re: just goes to show how little ...

          Re: "I would also like to point out the rise in cancer rate amongst the population of the WHOLE WORLD since the US and USSR started exploding nukes left, right and centre in the 1950's."

          Note that correlation is not causation. Life expectancy has ballooned in the 20th century almost everywhere. We (as a civilization) have removed lots of causes of early death by disease, making cancer stand out more strikingly. If you were correct, cancer rates should decline for the last few decades.

          1. smartypants

            Re: just goes to show how little ...

            "If you were correct..."

            But that's the problem with people cherry-picking statistics to prop up a pre-baked belief. They're hardly going to cross-examine their 'conclusion reached', when the conclusion was the starting point in the process, rather than an artifact of reason.

        3. Manolo
          Facepalm

          Re: just goes to show how little ...

          "I would also like to point out the rise in cancer rate amongst the population of the WHOLE WORLD since the US and USSR started exploding nukes left, right and centre in the 1950's."

          Mostly caused by increase in life expactancy.

        4. Vic

          Re: just goes to show how little ...

          I would also like to point out the rise in cancer rate amongst the population of the WHOLE WORLD since the US and USSR started exploding nukes left, right and centre in the 1950's.

          Yeah, and look at what that does.

          Vic.

        5. Mark Dempster

          Re: just goes to show how little ...

          There may be a link, but probably not a strong one. The main cause of the rise in deaths from cancer is that we're not dying from something else first as much as we used to.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: just goes to show how little ...

        Just goes to show how little the OP knows about radiation. My maternal grandfather served in the Pacific theater with the US Marines during WWII. We have a photo of him standing at Hiroshima (right next to the ground zero sign) that was taken a few days after the invasion.

        In his late 60s, he contracted diabetes and then died from leukemia. Interestingly, no one else in our family tree had any history of cancer. Most of his relatives lived well into their 90s.

        You can say what you like, but I reckon his exposure to a fresh blast site was wot did it. As said previously, the military (in its infinite wisdom) prefers to minimize the downsides of using WMD in warfare. Agent Orange, tactical nukes, chemical agents all are perfectly safe, as long as they aren't being used on you, right?

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: just goes to show how little ...

      the whole 'scare of radiation' meme was constructed as a cold war propaganda tactic.

      There's a very big difference between a 1.5kT airburst four miles up and a 20MT ground burst.

      1. mmeier

        Re: just goes to show how little ...

        Well 20Megatons would have been rather rare. The USSR deployed them as specialised Silo/Bunker Busters on the SS-18 "Satan" ICBM. The more typical warheads where in the 500-750kt range, good enough for city busting. (The 9MT warhead on the Titan was the biggest US warhead deployed)

    3. Mikey

      Re: just goes to show how little ...

      Hmm.

      While the radiation produced directly from the explosion is relatively short lived, it'll still do a (considerably big) number on you, and you won't be living much longer than a few hours or days, depending on proximity to ground zero (Which, in the case of these rockets, you have a few miles of atmosphere between you and the detonation, so that's all the alpha particles and likely almost all of the beta gone too, so only a minor gamma burst to deal with... and none of what I'm about to write about next...)

      The biggest issue is the material that gets sucked up as part of said explosion, and irradiated to produce the real fallout that goes on to cause much more long term damage than the initial explosion. This is the stuff that will prevent you from going back there for a good amount of time, or more likely cause long term problems and issues due to people going back and not understanding why it's so dangerous. Lots of those who went back to help those injured in the original bomb blasts in Japan succumbed to the secondary fallout radiation without knowing it

      Not only that, but this material can spread in winds and rain, this was the major issue surrounding Chernobyl and the massive cloud of debris it produced, which was capable of scattering radioactive fallout for many thousands of square miles, potentially endangering huge amounts of the nearby population, even drifting towards Europe and causing havoc there.

      The damage you're imagining is more than you think. Most wouldn't think dust and the like floating down would be harmful in that way, and by the time you know about it, it's too late.

      As for your last point, obviously, it's hard to talk to anyone who has died from radiation, because... well, they're dead. Possibly buried in lead lined coffins too. Not hard to find though (not like they're going anywhere), just takes more effort than you want to put in because it's easier to make false blanket statements about things like this, contrails and moon landings than it does to simply state what you think.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: just goes to show how little ...

        One of my ham radio friends is some kind of a nuclear effects analyst for a big defense company. He won't say very much about what he does. He's a really nice guy. Doesn't get worked up about much. I suppose that is because he knows how bad it can get.

    4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: its hard to find anyone who has died from radiation, anywhere in the world.

      No it isn't.

      First of all, you can just google "lethal radiation event" and you get, in 4th place, this list. Of course, that means you have to actually search instead of just spouting a comfortable ignorance.

      Second, you might remember a little event called Three Mile Island ? The one that started the whole "nukular is BAAAD" craze ? There again, Google is your friend.

      More recently, you have to have heard of Chernobyl. They even made a video game based on the environment. Thousands died from exposure on-site, the number of cancers influenced by the worldwide fallout is, of course, unknown.

      So no, it is not difficult to find people who have died from radiation. You just have to look.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: its hard to find anyone who has died from radiation, anywhere in the world.

        > Second, you might remember a little event called Three Mile Island ? The one that started the whole "nukular is BAAAD" craze ? There again, Google is your friend.

        TMI emitted a small amount of radioactive steam. The bigger problem there was the public panic.

        That said, water-moderated nuclear plants are a spectacularly bad idea, despite being several hundred thousand times safer than coal(*). Molten salts are the logical way forward, in large part because they mean there's no radioactive water/steam to contend with when things go wrong.

        (*) http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html

        1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

          Re: its hard to find anyone who has died from radiation, anywhere in the world.

          "Molten salts are the logical way forward, in large part because they mean there's no radioactive water/steam to contend with when things go wrong."

          Are there any designs where molten salts do not absorb radioactive materials?

          AFAIK that's the main problem with them - it's bloody difficult to clean a molten salt during operation, because it's hot, radioactive, and corrosive as hell. Fluoride salts being especially nasty. And there is no good way around it, as moderating agent has to be purified from protactinium & other undesired actinides that are inhibiting the reaction process.

      2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: its hard to find anyone who has died from radiation, anywhere in the world.

        And 22 deaths on the K-19 submarine, directly attributable to radiation poisoning:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_submarine_K-19

      3. SundogUK

        Re: its hard to find anyone who has died from radiation, anywhere in the world.

        If you look at the Wikilist you mention, you'll find Three Mile Island isn't there, because there were no fatalties.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          I had actually reviewed the list before posting my reply, and had been surprised at not finding it - but didn't follow up on that. I was always convinced that the operator at the station had died of radiation poisoning. My recollection is that I had read that somewhere.

          Following your comment, I reviewed the article on Wikipedia.

          Thank you for giving me the incentive to correct that mistake.

      4. DougS Silver badge

        @Pascal - No, thousands did NOT die from exposure on-site at Chernobyl

        Only 41 died in the immediate aftermath, four from a helicopter crash. Now obviously radiation shortened the lives of many more who got cancer later in life, but mostly decades later. Not saying that radiation isn't a big problem, but the number of people dying horribly from radiation sickness was very small - and most of those were volunteers who knew they'd die but gave their lives to prevent the disaster from being worse than it was.

        For Fukushima the number dying from radiation sickness was zero. The death toll even counting cancer deaths will never come close to the toll from the tsunami itself.

      5. fnj

        Re: its hard to find anyone who has died from radiation, anywhere in the world.

        @Pascal Monnet

        Second, you might remember a little event called Three Mile Island

        Nobody was injured by radiation from the TMI accident. Not on site, and not in the surrounding environment.

        More recently, you have to have heard of Chernobyl. ... Thousands died from exposure on-site

        Another fantasy. In the 3 months following Chernobyl, a total of 31 people, workers and cleanup crew, died of acute radiation exposure. Thyroid cancer deaths reached 15 after a few years. The toll of thousands of excess cancer deaths in the general population is a wild assed guess. The cancer mortality incidence is estimated to be raised by less than 1%. There is no way you can ever identify people whose death is attributable to that.

        Fukushima: zero deaths to workers and cleanup crews.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: its hard to find anyone who has died from radiation, anywhere in the world.

        Yes people have died from radiation so the original post was absolutely wrong but not very many have. Most big numbers include predicted cancer deaths but when actual death rates are looked at these predictions evaporate unsurpisingly given that the standard model of radiation health impact is massively conservative.

        Nobody at all died as a result of three mile island. Nobody died from radiation at Fukishima. The deaths from Chernobyl had been predicted as colossal - hundreds of thousands, but so far has been a little more than 50. The WHO report which predicts 4000 deaths, a huge reduction from earlier estimates, and lists the metal health impact of the wild predictions as having a bigger impact. My prediction is that the actual death toll will be much less than this. Radiation except in massive doses is nowhere near as dangerous as people think. The evidenc eof this is very clea rin radiation worker health statistics and the statistics for tose who live in high background radiation areas. In that poster is correct although wrong in exagerating this.

    5. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: just goes to show how little ...

      Due to national security issues, it's somewhere between hard and impossible to get an accurate count of people who have died on nuclear projects. Whether in construction, accidents, radiation poisoning or from cancer. There's a bit of PR tied in with it too, but in general radiation is more dangerous than some of the "safer" sounding stats, as they ignore the hidden deaths, and not nearly as bad as some of the more shrill greenies make out.

      It's also pretty much impossible (short of evidence of ingestion) to determine what radiation caused what cancer. We're all exposed to various levels, depending on locale, and we all have various cancerous growths*. If someone dies of a heart attack and had multiple late stage cancers, what's the cause of death?

      Even if you factor in a reasonable estimate, nuclear power (as electricity generation) is about as safe as large scale hydro, which is pretty** safe most of the time, considering the size of the civil engineering involved.

      It's pretty easy to find people who've died of radiation poisoning. Whether someone who dies from cancer, showing that cancer was caused by a particular source of radiation is very hard to prove. Off the top of my head, about 30 people died of radiation poisoning at Chernobyl (within a few weeks), Harry Daghlian Jr and Louis Slotin for doing nuclear experiments without proper (any?) safety measures, and Alexander Litvinenko.

      * 99% of which we'll outlive, as they grow slowly. It's the fast growing buggers that we worry about.

      ** Hydro dams don't fail often, but when they do it's horrific.

    6. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: just goes to show how little ...

      "its hard to find anyone who has died from radiation, anywhere in the world."

      That's because they're dead.

      That said, you're right, they're uncommon. The Lucky Dragon crew being one group and the Chernobyl firefighters being another (most survived. What killed them in the end was being treated as pariahs and being denied decent medical care)

      A significant number of Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims died from exposure to the gamma burst, taking hours/days to do so but beyond that point most survived.

      More recently, 2 japanese nuclear workers managed to irradiate themselves about 20 years ago when they took a shortcut and accidentally sent some plutonium critical. They died a few days later. Actual in-the-wild, from-the-leftovers radiation victims are rare though.

    7. Triggerfish

      Re: just goes to show how little ...

      I take it you stopped doing any STEM subjects once it got past GCSE then? I'm just asking pretty sure what your saying means all my teachers must have been telling fibs.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: just goes to show how little ...

      "just goes to show how little ...

      radiation damage there is from nuclear explosions, or in a nuclear weapon."

      Actually, the military seems to have more often downplayed the risks:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/us/decades-later-sickness-among-airmen-after-a-hydrogen-bomb-accident.html

    9. phuzz Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: just goes to show how little ...

      "its hard to find anyone who has died from radiation, anywhere in the world."

      Yes. Because they're dead.

    10. Afernie

      Re: just goes to show how little ...

      "radiation damage there is from nuclear explosions, or in a nuclear weapon.

      the whole 'scare of radiation' meme was constructed as a cold war propaganda tactic.

      its hard to find anyone who has died from radiation, anywhere in the world."

      I assume you are simply engaging in a particular weak attempt at invoking Poe's Law, but if not, try looking up the term "downwinder."

    11. JLV Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: just goes to show how little ...

      It's an airburst, it will not have the fallout of an explosion that churns up ground matter.

      Not to forget that both superpowers could be fairly irresponsible at times with their test subjects' exposure, especially early on. And that radiation exposure can have long term effects that wouldn't show up immediately.

      With friends like you, nuclear energy (which I support) doesn't need enemies.

      p.s. Anyone else think that explosion looked like a really, really, bad early generation CGI special effect?

    12. Mark Dempster

      Re: just goes to show how little ...

      Quite a few in Japan in 1945... and more than you'd expect during the fire-fighting operation at Chernobyl. A few crew members on the first USSR nuclear sub. Probably a lot more cases than that, but I'm about to go to lunch so you can google them yourself.

  6. Roger Greenwood

    July 19th - the day the ice age ended:-

    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=138515152830639&id=375976384677

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They really did want nukes everywhere, there were also plans (and I think they were tested plans) to drop nukes off the side of battleships when subs were detected/suspected, apparently the overpressure would pancake them over some great distance underwater.

    1. Blank-Reg
      Mushroom

      Indeed, they even developed and fired an atomic artillery cannon. Also, and I bet you thought the Fatboy was a funny fictional device? Think again, here's the M65 Nuclear Rifle. Madness...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > They really did want nukes everywhere, there were also plans (and I think they were tested plans) to drop nukes off the side of battleships when subs were detected/suspected

      Nuclear depth charges were / are in service with the RN, the USN and the Soviet navy. If you pitched one over the side and nuked a wide area you didn't even need to know where the enemy sub was and you'd still get it.

      As for the air to air weapon, it was the 50s and guidance technology was at best sub-Flintstones and sometimes featured actual pigeons.

      The maths went like this; we can either improve guidance technology to the point where we can hit a target with sensible munitions, or we can get a nuke to within the same postcode and it won't really matter.

      Added to this the idea that the reds would be coming at us with swarms of bombers and tanks and tactical nukes like this and the nuclear artillery started to make a sick kind of sense.

      1. ISP

        Not forgetting the infamous Blue Peacock nuclear land mine, with added chicken.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Peacock

        1. BoldMan
          Coat

          Don't forget the atomic hand-grenade... problem with that was finding someone who could throw it 5 miles...

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

            I think it was called the .Davy Crockett.

      2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        "it was the 50s and guidance technology was at best sub-Flintstones and sometimes featured actual pigeons."

        Skinner tried to sell the idea to the USAF but it was rejected. Reasons unclear; whether the brass thought that pilots would be demoralised if they thought pigeons could do a better job or whether they were prepared to contemplate the fiery deaths of many thousands but balked at pigeon suicide bombers.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is interesting how small many of the early atomic/nuclear munitions were.

    It is said that North Korea cannot really threaten anyone with a nuclear strike - as they can't yet make their devices small enough for their missiles to deliver them. Presumably it is being assumed that they would only want to use high-yield warheads?

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Making a physically small nuclear weapon is more difficult than a large one. There is a lower limit to the smallest amount of fissile material that can create a nuclear explosion, and that would have to be 100% pure, and the rest of the bomb would have to perform close to the theoretical limits in order to detonate.

      For a country building it's first nuke, they'll be working to loser tolerances, which will result in a physically larger bomb.

      This doesn't mean a bigger boom though. A less sophisticated weapon will probably have a larger yield than a smaller, more advanced one.

      The smallest (publicly known) nuke is the SADM, which was the size of a large backpack, weighed about 25kg and had an explosive power equivalent to six thousand tons of TNT. In contrast, Little Boy, which was the second nuclear device ever detonated, weighed four tons, and only had twice the yield.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Adding to the difficulty

        If you want a LARGE boom (>4MT) you need to have a separate core of 2H and/or 3H, which means you have to use a soccer-ball design, the gun/slug or 2 hemisphere designs won't work to contain/compress a tritium core. The soccer-ball design is HARD; but it does make for a smaller device, with a much bigger boom.

        Posting anonymously, 'cause this might get me put on some watch list or another.

      2. fnj

        @phuzz

        Making a physically small nuclear weapon is more difficult than a large one. There is a lower limit to the smallest amount of fissile material that can create a nuclear explosion

        Correct, miniaturization is the trick. But the critical mass of the fissionable material is NOT the limiting factor. The critical mass of a dead simple sphere of U-235 is only 48 kg, and of Pu-239, only 10.5 kg. Using various extremely clever tricks, Fat Man actually contained only 6.2 kg of plutonium. But the complete bomb weighed 4670 kg. The cross section and intricate description here will give you some idea why.

        Today, the US has weapons with 10 and more times the explosive power that are much smaller and lighter. The really big bombs, which were 500 times as powerful as Fat Man, have been retired.

  9. Fr. Ted Crilly

    ahem

    F89 Scorpion is followed by a (the camera ship presumably) Martin B-57, that's an English Electric Canberra of us right ponders.

    'click' nerd mode off...

  10. paulc
    IT Angle

    unknown aircraft

    "trailed by a second aircraft the video below doesn't identify"

    looks like the US version of our Canberra...

    Martin B-57

  11. Indolent Wretch
    Mushroom

    Surely any nuclear bomb rigged for an air burst counts as an air to air nuke?

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Almost all nuclear devices detonate based on altitude and not on imact - the shockwave and heat produced is what really does the damage.

      They are still targeted against a ground target though.

      Also, if it is launched from land/sea it also can't be air to air - that is for aircraft targeting aircraft

  12. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    Threads

    Most of you lot are perhaps too young.

    The escalation in that kicked off from a first nuke used to destroy a flight of aircraft...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threads

    1. Afernie

      Re: Threads

      They showed 'Threads' to our Speech and Drama class at school (because apparently scarring kids for life was high in the curriculum plan). It's still a bleak and scary film today.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Threads

      I made the mistake of renting Threads ten years ago. The subsequent nightmares were just as bad as those I had had when it was first broadcast.

    3. Triggerfish

      Re: Threads

      Oh god that, when the wind blows, the mad death, and sapphire and steel, it's a wonder I didn't cringe at everything as a child. I only saw a bit of Threads a bit to young, but that was enough.

    4. ChubbyBehemoth

      Re: Threads

      Thanks for mentioning it, never heard of it before. I downloaded a copy and it is a great way to explain what the fears were in the early 80's. I must say though that this is still a fairly optimistic picture considering that there actually are people and some form of governing bodies 13 years after the event. No fertiliser, but still some bullets left may show priorities, but you think something crude and cost efficient would be more standard in a society with plenty of scrap metal. The daftness of any plans for the aftermath is nicely pointed out though. I once saw one and was pretty appalled by the madness of assumptions. Duck and cover...

      There's still plenty of the stuff around to destroy the world several times, but we just aren't that aware of it any more. Wonder how long it's going to last sometimes.

      1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: Threads

        > "... it is a great way to explain what the fears were in the early 80's."

        I was actually a ten year old living in Sheffield when I saw Threads. My dad was into walking and we knew the hills too, from the really ugly bits.

        Grim it was, but then I'm not sure if it undermined MAD or not, Sheffield was about as commie as a city could be at the time, they'd have welcomed a soviet invasion with open arms, so no real need to nuke it.

        There's even a wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Republic_of_South_Yorkshire

        Jeremy Corbyn eat yer 'eart out.

        To my mind we need a conventional force that our enemies will be worried we might actually deploy, above a nuclear force which we "might", "maybe", "perhaps" or even "never".

  13. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    " ... one of the oddest ideas to emerge in the Cold War: a nuclear-armed air-to-air missile ... "

    Par for the course. The whole Cold War era was odd. Or batshit crazy. Some of the, er, interesting stuff is already mentioned in the thread, but there's a lot more, just poke around a bit. One of my favourites are the 'Rainbow Bombs', aka nukes in space.

    As to living close to something on the primary target list - after viewing all the training films during my time in the army I actually welcomed it. If it were to happen, it would be over before I knew it.

  14. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Ding-a-ling

    I seem to remember there was a practice version of the Genie that had a smoke charge rather than a nuclear warhead. It went by the name Ding-a-ling which seemed quaint!

  15. FlamingDeath Bronze badge

    An organism at war with itself, is doomed

    Nukes are mere childs toys when compared to the coming era of nanotechnology, and will assure the extinction of the huma species, so long as a military industrial complex exists.

    If you have a stake in the future, ie you have kids....

    Good luck!, you're gonna need it big time!

  16. J J Carter Silver badge
    Pirate

    Drone mounted?

    Still useful against jihadists...

  17. Slx

    Not sure it's an anniversary I would celebrate

    Great... Another 20th century day where they exploded a big load of radionuclides into the atmosphere.

    Nuclear power might be a necessary calculated risk but nuclear weapons still threaten to wipe us all out of ever used in anger and nuclear testing unquestionably increased cancer risks.

    The sheer number of tests carried out, especially in the 60s and 70s is just frightening and the absolute arrogance of those who did them Is even worse.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Not sure it's an anniversary I would celebrate

      How do you feel about the casualty count for WW2, when compared to the casualty count for the Cold War?

      1. Not That Andrew

        Re: Not sure it's an anniversary I would celebrate

        I think when you count all the deaths in the US and USSR's various proxy wars the death toll comes close

        1. ewan 3

          Re: Not sure it's an anniversary I would celebrate

          No it doesn't. The death toll of ww2 was between 50 and 80 million. Post 1945 doesn't come close.

  18. Deepshark5

    Second Aircraft - England be Proud !

    Hello Everyone,

    Thanks for the video - the second aircraft trailing the F-89 is a Martin WB-57, a high altitude version of the Martin B-57 tactical bomber - its got a huuuge wing, and a spare pair of small turbojets under the wings.

    But, oh England, be proud !

    The B-57 is a licence built version of one of the best of British:

    The English Electric Canberra !

    Of course its not the end of story - to go even further (and blow your brains out), the RB-57F is the most extreme Canberra the mind can imagine - check out those fantastic wings ! And , until the U-2 came along, it was the highest flying manned aeroplane ever.

    1. Rick Brasche

      Re: Second Aircraft - England be Proud !

      I wasn't even aware there was an American/"B" version of the Canberra-I was only aware of the British version. Shows what I know

  19. Rick Brasche

    every arcade junkie is well versed in these

    I ran 3 silos of these for the sole purpose of intercepting incoming warheads. Many quarters were sacrificed for Missile Command. Catch the incoming in the blast radius and make sure ya don't run out!

  20. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Mushroom

    The British "Genie"

    Britain had her own '50s air-launched nuke missile programs, including the wonderfully code-named "Green Cheese" missile, a nuke-tipped anti-ship missile. In true British fashion, the designers and employers (the Royal Navy) didn't do much exchanging of notes and the missile turned out to be too heavy for the Gannet aircraft it was meant for! Then someone pointed out the even bigger problem that the "Green Cheese" missile's seeker head had to have a clear view of the target at launch, something it couldn't do from inside the bomb-bay of the Gannet. Luckily, the Blackburn Buccaneer turned up with its rotating bomb-bay doors, which meant "Green Cheese" could progress. It's final development was code-named "Cockburn Cheese" (to which the typical sailor's response was "I hope it does more than that to the Russians!"), which suffered the usual fate of most British developments of the day, having its funding cut. Instead, the RN and RAF ended up with "dumb" nuke bombs, the boringly named WE.177 series.

    Talking of fallout radiation, another charmingly-named British weapon from the 50's was the "Blue Bunny / Blue Peacock" series of nuclear landmines. The idea was, in the event of a likely Soviet attack, to quickly plant a chain of the devices at prepared sites across the expected attack routes of Soviet armies storming across the North German Plain. The explosions would not just devastate any Soviet forces caught in the blasts but also create a broad "firewall" of radiated land the Soviets would be unlikely to want to launch a second wave over. How the Germans felt about the idea is not recorded! "Blue Peacock" was noted for the unusual method in which the bomb mechanism was kept from freezing - when armed, a live chicken was entombed in the bomb casing with enough food and water to keep for a week, the body heat from the chicken keeping the circuits at an operating temperature!

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