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H-bomb almost nuked North Carolina in 1961 accident

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H-bomb almost nuked North Carolina in 1961 accident

 

A U.S. hydrogen bomb nearly detonated on America's east coast, with a single switch averting a blast which would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that flattened Hiroshima, a newly published book says.

 

In a recently declassified document, reported in a new book by Eric Schlosser, the supervisor of the nuclear weapons safety department at Sandia national laboratories said that one simple, vulnerable switch prevented nuclear catastrophe.

 

The Guardian newspaper published the document on Saturday.

 

Two hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on Jan. 24, 1961 after a B-52 bomber broke up in flight. One of the bombs apparently acted as if it was being armed and fired ? its parachute opened and trigger mechanisms engaged.

 

...

 

The 1961 Goldsboro B-52 crash

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It's hard to imagine how significantly world events would have been altered had a nuclear weapon been detonated within US territory just four days into John F. Kennedy's presidency, at the pinnacle of the Cold War. It's entirely plausible that it would have been blamed on the Russians and used to justify a nuclear attack against Russia; or the contrary, the US might have acknowledged it as an accident and been put under immense public pressure to abandon nuclear weapons. The 1960s were well known for hippies and the anti-war movement, which would have been bolstered by such a deadly accident.

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I read about this last week.  Pretty crazy to imagine.

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that is pretty nuts. it says that 3 of the crew died, but 5 survived. imagine having to jump from that plane!

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I wonder what the aircraft's original mission was. Where was it headed to? Was it a drill? If so, why did it carry a couple of real bombs?

 

I doubt that a fully loaded B-52 was patrolling the U.S. skies just in case on some airborne alert mission. Usually, it's the job designated to the interceptors.

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It's hard to imagine how significantly world events would have been altered had a nuclear weapon been detonated within US territory just four days into John F. Kennedy's presidency, at the pinnacle of the Cold War. It's entirely plausible that it would have been blamed on the Russians and used to justify a nuclear attack against Russia; or the contrary, the US might have acknowledged it as an accident and been put under immense public pressure to abandon nuclear weapons. The 1960s were well known for hippies and the anti-war movement, which would have been bolstered by such a deadly accident.

 

I believe they would have blamed it on the Russians. Governments aren't too keen on taking responsibility for their actions.

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Old news.

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Old news indeed.

I wonder what the aircraft's original mission was. Where was it headed to? Was it a drill? If so, why did it carry a couple of real bombs?

I doubt that a fully loaded B-52 was patrolling the U.S. skies just in case on some airborne alert mission. Usually, it's the job designated to the interceptors.

That's exactly what was done. Armed Strategic Air Command bombers would fly patrols 24/7/365 waiting for the signal to attack the USSR or its allies. There were numerous SAC bases in and outside the US - IIRC there were 3 here in Michigan alone.
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Old news.

 

Not really the paper was released on Saturday. 

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I wonder what the aircraft's original mission was. Where was it headed to? Was it a drill? If so, why did it carry a couple of real bombs?

 

I doubt that a fully loaded B-52 was patrolling the U.S. skies just in case on some airborne alert mission. Usually, it's the job designated to the interceptors.

There were at least four routes that were constantly on patrol throughout the Cold War. The bombers were in the air every hour of every day carrying live bombs over European countries. I don't know if it was this accident, but there was one that occurred that made those countries rethink letting the US fly these bombs over their people. I heard this in a documentary. I'll see if I can find it.

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Not really the paper was released on Saturday. 

I've known about this for years. 

 

By the way flinty tell me how it's unsafe for me to have a firearm by my side. You Dodged my question.

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Old news indeed.

That's exactly what was done. Armed Strategic Air Command bombers would fly patrols 24/7/365 waiting for the signal to attack the USSR or its allies. There were numerous SAC bases in and outside the US - IIRC there were 3 here in Michigan alone.

 

Yep. There was also a command and control aircraft flying 24/7 with a Flag Officer (General or Admiral) on board to serve as the commander of US forces should a strike take out the National Command Authority on the ground.

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weve-gone-back-in-time.jpg

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There were at least four routes that were constantly on patrol throughout the Cold War. The bombers were in the air every hour of every day carrying live bombs over European countries. I don't know if it was this accident, but there was one that occurred that made those countries rethink letting the US fly these bombs over their people. I heard this in a documentary. I'll see if I can find it.

 

These 2 incidents may be what you are referring to-

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1966_Palomares_B-52_crash

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_Thule_Air_Base_B-52_crash

 

additional info -

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Chrome_Dome

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_triad

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Yep, it was the 1966 accident. The mid-air refueling jogged my memory.

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By 1958 SAC peaked at 2,500 aircraft, and by 1963 it had ~650 B-52s operating from 38 bases in the US, Pacific, Greenland and Europe. 42 squadrons in all, and a sh*tload of nuclear bombs, cruise missiles etc.

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