Skip to comments.5 men withstand 1.7 kiloton nuclear explosion
Posted on 07/19/2012 7:42:23 PM PDT by moonshot925
^^ The link
An AIR-2 Genie air-to-air unguided rocket armed with a 1.7 kiloton W25 nuclear warhead was launched from an F-89 Scorpion fighter aircraft.
The weapon detonated 18,000 feet above five USAF officers.
The purpose of the test was to prove that the weapon was safe for use over populated areas.
If they’re safe for use over populated areas, what’s the point?
They had great big brass ones.
The test doesn’t make sense to me. A nuke typically goes off at 1500 or so feet for maximum wave propagation.
Air-to-air missile, for shooting down enemy bombers and whatever over US territory. You don't want to destroy the village in order to save it.
About that time I was building a Revell model of the F 89. And I believe that was a Canberra flying as wing man to the Scorpion.
Because we don't want to kill our own people.
The AIR-2 Genie rocket was designed to destroy Soviet bombers over US territory.
The weapon was designed as an air to air nuclear missile, so setting it off at that altitude is certainly realistic, and they would want to be able to use is over CONUS.
Everyone on earth survived it.
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Thanks moonshot925, but I don't see what the big deal was -- everyone alive on 19 July 1957 withstood it. Okay, sure, most were at a much greater distance from the blast...
Optimum HOB is the cube root of the yield in kt times the optimum HOB for a 1kt weapon, so a one megaton device would have HOB of 6500 feet, and a 1.7kt would be ~800 feet. A 5 megaton cracker would be 11,000 feet.
They wanted to show the Soviets that we were willing to pop a nuke over our cities to get one of their bombers, or a formation of bombers.
I bet those guys were not fully briefed. Lots of the “volunteers” were not.
What was it called, something like ‘Operation Smoky’
When airmen were men and not politically correct.
Article also on Daily Mail website
From their remarks, they understood exactly what was happening. I assume they were brass, which accounts for their enthusiasm. I wonder how they made out. I suppose if they didn't wait around for that cloud to settle on them, they might have been OK. I guess this is where "fully briefed" comes in. In the early tests, the hazards of radioactive fallout were not given the respect they required, to say the least, but by 1957, I would have thought they were more generally understood. Maybe it was a few more years before "fallout" became a bugaboo.
Fallout was not an issue here. Fallout comes from dust kicked up from the ground. An airblast well above the surface of the ground will have virtually no fallout. Just the material that comprised the missle and whatever dust that was already naturally floating in the air.
Thanks for the ping. I wonder how they got them to volunteer.
“I assume they were brass,”
Yup, there were references to “Colonel”, I think. You’d pick brass for a publicity stunt like this to be sure it went OK.
There would not be “much” fallout from a 1.7 kt airburst. The debris cloud would be hot as all get out but would not mass much. Serious fallout happens when the isothermal sphere (inner fireball) touches ground, then you get a kiloton of dirt irradiated strongly with neutrons rising up as a vapor, to rain down in little spherules that are very hot. Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not produce much either, and they were airbursts. Most radiation casualties there were from prompt effects.
The thermonuke shots that vaporized entire islands generated huge masses of fallout.
This shot was about the size of the Argus shot and neither would produce much stuff.
The fallout is material contaminated with the reaction products and unreacted uranium from the explosion. In this small airburst, I would suppose that the cloud consisting of the bomb and target material would remain relatively concentrated and settle in a localized area, but the amount of radioactive material should be the same whether or not it is mixed with ground material and dispersed.
Note that the test subjects saw and described this cloud, and surely direct exposure to it would have been highly dangerous.
Well, they always talk about Strontium 90. Isn’t this a direct reaction product? Neutron irraditation of ground material is an interesting point, and one I’m not familiar with, so I’ll grant what you say. I guess this would be mostly due to metals in the soil ?
their colonel walked into the O’club and asked “who wants to go out to a party in the desert tomorrow. It’s going to be a real blast.” and these 5 guys, probably half snockered, volunteered.
I liked how the fins deployed ( see 1st pic at link ). They were spring loaded. All four were held down by an x cord at the back. When the motor fired it burned through the cord and all four fins deployed. No other missile was like it as they all have non retractable fins.
All USAF weapons troops trained on this missile until it's retirement in 1988, even those who didn't work on the F-106. Many of us wanted to work on that plane at the time.
With that many neutrons available you’d get quite a stew from soil or concrete. There are n-gamma activation reactions for N, C, O, Si, Al, Fe, K, Ca.....
The fallout from an air shot will have bomb debris, what’s left of the Pu or U, the U casing, and any structural stuff, probably Fe, Al, B, others, plus all the isotopes you get by neutron irradiation of these materials, and fission products of the pit. Consider that the casing absorbs a big fraction of the neutrons, so it will be very activated. Most of the activated material will have a short half life, which is part of the glow of the debris cloud, stuff with a half life less than a second wildly decaying.
The fission components are as you say Sr, and there would be Ba isotopes, Kr, Cs, I, Zr75. These all have relatively long half-lives.
The B-57 was the American-built version of the English Electric Canberra light bomber. The main recognition points between RAF and USAF versions were: (1) the offset bubble canopy and circular escape hatch of the RAF model (no ejection seats) and (2) the tandem seating, long canopy, and ejection seats on the USAF version. The last B-57 units retired in 1983.
May I ask an impertinent and uniformed question...
We’ve all heard about how a single upper atmospheric nuclear detonation could wreak havoc due to EMP (electro-magnetic pulse, if I have that right).
This device is detonated about 2 miles overhead, and directly underneath are cameras and a tape recorder to record the reaction of the men on the ground.
Why doesn’t the EMP from the blast wipe out the tape recorder, at least? Or the camera along with it?
No, tape recorders back then did not have microchips, and were relatively basic devices, yet the signal from recording head to tape should have been susceptible to an electromagnetic pulse of that size at a relatively close distance? If not, why not?
My point is — looking at the results of this test, it makes me wonder if all the talk about “an EMP attack” is just so much more hype and nonsense, lots of speculation with little to back it up?
EMPs are fairly complex (there are actually multiple kinds, there are EMPs from SURFACE bursts, called SREMP (Source Region EMPs) which are quite powerful but have limited range.
In this case the issue is that you sort of need to be at some sort of boundary to generate the currents an EMP - an explosion in the middle of the atmosphere doesn’t generate an EMP - but you do get one in the upper atmosphere (HEMP, High-Altitude EMP) or right at the surface, but not in-between.
It’s much more complicated than this and I’m not a physicist. Recently came up at work though.
And if you are wondering if EMP is real, Google the “Starfish Prime” nuclear test.
From what I have read about EMP weapons, the warhead would need to be encased in a heavy iron casing to produce a large pulse.
The weapon used in this test was a 1.7 kiloton W25 nuclear warhead detonated at 18,000 feet.
The explosion was not powerful enough and not high enough to do any damage.
But the EMP theory was proved true by Operation Dominic in 1962.
On 9 July 1962 a Thor IRBM carrying a 1.44 megaton W49 nuclear warhead detonated 248 miles above Johnston Atoll in the Pacific.
The EMP from this explosion sent power line surges throughout Hawaii, knocking out street lighting, blowing fuzes and circuit breakers, and triggering burglar alarms.
Pffft... Indiana Jones survived a much more powerful nuke while hiding in a fridge.
Col. Sidney C. Bruce (USAF, Ret.) is following up a distinguished military career with another equally effective career in religion. A leader for eight years in military applications of nuclear energy, he has thus spanned the gamut from atoms to the infinite.
Each engine had an impulse starter, a black powder starting cartridge, that allowed the B-57 to start its engines without the use of an APU cart. The problem was the huge amounts of thick smoke generated made it appear the engines were on fire. Crews soon learned to start engines with the canopy closed, even in SEA lest some over zealous crash crew try to put out the fire with foam (with them in the cockpit).
The B-57, like the F-105 Thunderchief, had a rotary bomb bay door. Ordnance was attached to the door itself. In flight, the door would rotate and the bombs were pickled off the bomb bay door. The rotary bomb door eliminated the drag caused buy conventional doors when it came to weapons release. On the F-105, the rotary bomb bay door option was rarely used and the bay was taken up by a long range fuel tank for raids over North Viet Nam.
Between visiting B-57s and our own K-135s both doing cart starts big black clouds of smoke that could be seen for miles were common at Plattsburgh. The FB-111s had the capability for a cart start but they rarely used it. Sometimes the heavy black smoke formed into mushroom clouds, not exactly what anyone wants to see at a nuke bomber base.
During the time the B-57 was being heavily engaged in SEA, there was a plan to mount several GAU-2B/A Mini-guns on the bomb bay door to turn the B-57 into a ground strafer. A prototype was tested but the idea never went anywhere.
Re: your post # 21 — Roger, that.
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