The B53 wasn’t just any old megabomb. It was the first bunker buster. U.S. nuclear doctrine called for it to be delivered over suspected underground Soviet command-and-control facilities. The dumb bomb wouldn’t destroy them so much as it would destroy everything remotely near it, leaving — literally — a smoldering crater. That was the U.S. plan for “victory” in a nuclear war right up until the implosion of the Soviet Empire. (related) [more inside]
posted by Trurl
on Oct 25, 2011 -
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 -
Lookout Mountain Laboratories (Hollywood, CA) was originally built in 1941 as an air defense station. But after WWII, the US Air Force repurposed it into a secret film studio which operated for 22 years during the Cold War. The studio produced classified movies for all branches of the US Armed Forces, as well as the Atomic Energy Commission, until it was deactivated in 1969. During this time, cameramen, who referred to themselves as "atomic" cinematographers, were hired to shoot footage of atomic bomb tests in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and the South Pacific.
Some of their films have been declassified and can be seen here. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Sep 14, 2010 -
Photographer Paul Shambroom has spent the last sixteen years documenting a much-discussed but little seen aspect of American foreign policy -- our nuclear arsenal
. [more inside]
posted by puckish
on Dec 10, 2008 -
This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with
nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of
casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you
further information as soon as possible.
- The BBC releases
for use in the event of nuclear war
posted by Artw
on Oct 2, 2008 -
In 1965, Peter Watkins produced a fictional documentary called The War Game
in which the aftermath of thermo-nuclear attacks in Britain was depicted. The BBC declared that it was "too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting"
and was not aired until 1985. Watch it here
(warning: graphic depictions of effects of radiation).
Related, When the Wind Blows
, 6, 7
), a sober animated tale of a British couple who try and survive nuclear holocaust based on the civil defense manual "Protect and Survive." (Previously
posted by champthom
on Jun 14, 2007 -
Remember the movie "The Day After
?" Back in the Cold War days, we were all worried about someday being vaporized by a nuclear blast. Well now, in this post-Cold War era you can relive those wonderful memories with PBS' Nuclear Blast Mapper
. I popped in the coordinates for MetaFilter's server location, set the bomb to a 25 megaton blast and this is the result
. Think about that the next time you hear a country gets their first nuclear weapons.
posted by mathowie
on Feb 3, 2000 -