M14 Forum banner

1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,441 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
" Atom bomb over North Carolina came close to detonating in 1961 crash, documents say.

One of two nuclear bombs that fell near Raleigh, N.C., during a military accident more than 50 years ago came frighteningly close to detonating, newly-released documents reveal.

It has long been known that a pair of 4-megaton hydrogen bombs fell from a stricken B-52 as it broke apart over Goldsboro, N.C., on Jan 24, 1961, at the height of the Cold War. But documents just released by the National Security Archive show that one bomb's arming mechanism switched from "safe" to "armed" on impact, while the other bomb fluttered under a parachute and would have exploded in the sky if two cockpit wires had happened to touch as the plane disintegrated.

"This bomb had the potential to make the one used in Hiroshima look like the work of a cap gun," said Eric Schlosser, who obtained the documents approximately a year before they were obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

"It behaved as though it was dropped over the Soviet Union at the time."
- Eric Schlosser, author of book on "The Goldsboro Incident"

Schlosser, who wrote about the incident in his 2013 book, "Command and Control of Nuclear Weapons," said the bomb brought to Earth by parachute, dubbed "Weapon I," was actually the one that came closest to detonating, even though its arming mechanism remained on "safe." The explosive performed just as a nuclear weapon is designed to function in wartime, completing five of the six steps to detonation, and only a single low-voltage switch prevented the explosion.

"It behaved as though it was dropped over the Soviet Union at the time," Schlosser said.

Other experts agree.

"When the B-52 disintegrates in the air it is likely to release the bombs in a near normal fashion," wrote Parker Jones, who analyzed the incident at the time for the Sandia National Laboratories and wrote a report entitled "How I learned to mistrust the H-Bomb."

As it turned out, the bomb that fell to the ground at 700 miles per hour did the most damage, burrowing some 12 feet into the ground. Unlike the other bomb, it was never in danger of detonating despite the impact moving its arming mechanism to the "armed" position. Jack ReVelle, who was an Air Force weapons disposal specialist in charge of disarming the two 11 1/2 -feet bombs, remembered when his men reported seeing the switching device as they dug their way down into the crater formed on impact.

“Until my death I will never forget hearing my sergeant say, ‘Lieutenant, we found the arm/safe switch,’” ReVelle told students at East Carolina University in 2013. “And I said, ‘Great.’ He said, ‘Not great. It’s on arm.”

The fact that the arming mechanism on the second weapon moved on impact prompted the military to order new switches immediately.

“So even though weapon 2 was further from detonation, the fact that the switch used to arm the weapon could be altered by an impact, shows its safety shortcoming,” William Burr, an analyst from the National Security Archive said.

The B-52 had been on a routine 12-hour mission and suddenly lost 19 tons of fuel pressure within minutes. The pilot was able to straighten the plane at 10,000 feet and aimed it for nearby Seymour Johnson Air Force Base until its right wing broke off. One witness described the plane as streaking through the sky like a Roman candle.

The pilots survived, and no one was killed on the ground. But had either bomb detonated, history would have been made in the worst possible way.

"It would have created a crater eight football fields wide," ReVelle said. "It would have destroyed every structure within a four-mile radius. There would have been a 100-percent kill zone for eight and a half miles in every direction." "

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/06/11/atom-bomb-over-north-carolina-came-close-to-detonating-in-161-crash-documents/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,422 Posts
theres aanother in the south somewhere that they havnt found yet. its believed to be in a swamp somewhere. theres also quite a few tactical nukes here in the deserts incased in concrete...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,237 Posts
Maybe that's why Barney only carried one bullet, "If these hillbillies only knew the devastation 'Weapon #1' can really do…"






LOL
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
59 Posts
They never found the one lost on the east coast near Savannah, Ga. Is that the one referred to below?

"theres aanother in the south somewhere that they havnt found yet. its believed to be in a swamp somewhere."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
236 Posts
Wow. talk about a close call!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,777 Posts
I'm sure they've figured out how to find those things by now. Good only knows what kind of shape they are in though and I'm thinking it wouldn't be smart to try to move them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,299 Posts
I thought one was found in the water of the SC Coast. They know where it is but do not want to try to recover it because they fear the case might leak or something.

EDIT:
Maybe I was thinking of this one in Georgia like TFred275 said..........

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1958_Tybee_Island_B-47_crash
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,441 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
“Until my death I will never forget hearing my sergeant say, ‘Lieutenant, we found the arm/safe switch,’” ReVelle told students at East Carolina University in 2013. “And I said, ‘Great.’ He said, ‘Not great. It’s on arm.”

That part of the OP reminded me of a docudrama show I once saw about the men who disarmed and dismantled unexploded Nazi bombs in London after the war. There was a scene where a construction crew are standing around the edge of a big pit they're dug and watching the military bomb guys as they go over the outside of an enormous bomb casing with various instruments- the onlookers are saying things like "Cor Blimey Mates, old Hitler missed the bloody boat with that one, eh wot?" and then a soldier down in the pit takes his stethoscope out of his ears and says to an officer, "She's ticking Sir, both fuses!" - and the work crew all jump about a foot into the air and vanish like startled pigeons!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,738 Posts
These incidents are covered in the book "The Day We Lost the H-Bomb", which focuses more heavily on the search for the bombs lost over Spain, all of which were recovered.

The safety devices on these weapons are amazing. The plane over Spain was refueling in air when an incident caused both to explode. There were actually survivors as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,738 Posts
“Until my death I will never forget hearing my sergeant say, ‘Lieutenant, we found the arm/safe switch,’” ReVelle told students at East Carolina University in 2013. “And I said, ‘Great.’ He said, ‘Not great. It’s on arm.”

That part of the OP reminded me of a docudrama show I once saw about the men who disarmed and dismantled unexploded Nazi bombs in London after the war. There was a scene where a construction crew are standing around the edge of a big pit they're dug and watching the military bomb guys as they go over the outside of an enormous bomb casing with various instruments- the onlookers are saying things like "Cor Blimey Mates, old Hitler missed the bloody boat with that one, eh wot?" and then a soldier down in the pit takes his stethoscope out of his ears and says to an officer, "She's ticking Sir, both fuses!" - and the work crew all jump about a foot into the air and vanish like startled pigeons!

If you want good stories about disarming WWII bombs, pick up the book on Draper Kauffman, America's First Frogman. He was working on a UXO when suddenly he heard the distinctive buzzing sound of the fuze going off. The Brits claimed they had never seen a man run so fast.

I admire the EOD community immensely.
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Top