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Obscure cold war nuclear projects: the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Program

The Cold War resulted in a rather large number of interesting military research programs. One of these with which I'm familiar is the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program, which ran from 1946 to 1961. The basic idea? Modify a bomber (such as a B-36 bomber), creating an aircraft that could theoretically remain aloft for weeks at a time without refueling, much like ballistic submarines? The challenge? Shielding. Shielding the reactor alone would make the aircraft prohibitively heavy, so the idea was to primarily shield the crew compartment instead of the reactor. However, to study the concept, and evaluate various lightweight shielding concepts, two very novel and unique nuclear reactors were built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory: the Bulk Shielding Reactor, a novel "swimming pool reactor", and the Tower Shielding Reactor, an unshielded reactor that was hung 200' in the air dangling between 310' steel towers. While the program successfully demonstrated several of the concepts (including a nuclear-powered gas turbine engine running in Idaho, and a modified B-36 that carried a nuclear reactor but wasn't propelled by it (mentioned above), the program was canceled in 1961 due to feasibility and budget concerns.
posted by kaszeta on Aug 21, 2011 - 26 comments

Wheels! Threads! Atoms!

War is Boring's Steve Weintz has a two-part article up on mobile nuclear reactors, called Atoms In Motion: Portable Reactors (part two here). The links referenced cover planes, trains, and automobiles (though calling the last one an "automobile" might be stretching the definition a little.)
posted by Harald74 on May 10, 2011 - 8 comments

Yarchive - Notes from the hinterland.

Yarchive is one man's collection of UseNET posts on the topics of Air Conditioning; Aircraft; Bicycles; Cars; Chemistry; Computers; Electrical, Electronic; Environment; Explosives, Pyrotechnics; Food; Houses; Guns; Jokes; Medicine; Metalworking; Military; Nuclear; Telephones; Physics; Risks; Security; Space mostly from a select group of authors. It has been updated several times since it first appeared here in 2001 and it never fails to sucker me in for hours every time I stumble upon it from a Google Search. [more inside]
posted by Mitheral on May 19, 2010 - 37 comments

Тхундербирдс являются дороге!

Russian cold war bombers - The Tu 95 Bear and Tu 160 Blackjack, based in central Russia, which resumed long range patrols in August.
posted by Artw on Dec 23, 2007 - 52 comments

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