US nearly nuked North Carolina

Discussion in 'Military History' started by pmaitra, Sep 21, 2013.

  1. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    US nearly detonated atomic bomb over North Carolina – secret document

    Exclusive: Journalist uses Freedom of Information Act to disclose 1961 accident in which one switch averted catastrophe

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    The bomb that nearly exploded over North Carolina was 260 times more powerful than the device which devasted Hiroshima in 1945. Photo: Three Lions/Getty Images

    A secret document, published in declassified form for the first time by the Guardian today, reveals that the US Air Force came dramatically close to detonating an atom bomb over North Carolina that would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that devastated Hiroshima.

    The document, obtained by the investigative journalist Eric Schlosser under the Freedom of Information Act, gives the first conclusive evidence that the US was narrowly spared a disaster of monumental proportions when two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on 23 January 1961. The bombs fell to earth after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air, and one of the devices behaved precisely as a nuclear weapon was designed to behave in warfare: its parachute opened, its trigger mechanisms engaged, and only one low-voltage switch prevented untold carnage.

    Each bomb carried a payload of 4 megatons – the equivalent of 4 million tons of TNT explosive. Had the device detonated, lethal fallout could have been deposited over Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and as far north as New York city – putting millions of lives at risk.

    Though there has been persistent speculation about how narrow the Goldsboro escape was, the US government has repeatedly publicly denied that its nuclear arsenal has ever put Americans' lives in jeopardy through safety flaws. But in the newly-published document, a senior engineer in the Sandia national laboratories responsible for the mechanical safety of nuclear weapons concludes that "one simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe".

    Writing eight years after the accident, Parker F Jones found that the bombs that dropped over North Carolina, just three days after John F Kennedy made his inaugural address as president, were inadequate in their safety controls and that the final switch that prevented disaster could easily have been shorted by an electrical jolt, leading to a nuclear burst. "It would have been bad news – in spades," he wrote.

    Jones dryly entitled his secret report "Goldsboro Revisited or: How I learned to Mistrust the H-Bomb" – a quip on Stanley Kubrick's 1964 satirical film about nuclear holocaust, Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

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    Slim Pickens in a scene from Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Photograph: The Ronald Grant Archive

    The accident happened when a B-52 bomber got into trouble, having embarked from Seymour Johnson Air Force base in Goldsboro for a routine flight along the East Coast. As it went into a tailspin, the hydrogen bombs it was carrying became separated. One fell into a field near Faro, North Carolina, its parachute draped in the branches of a tree; the other plummeted into a meadow off Big Daddy's Road.

    Jones found that of the four safety mechanisms in the Faro bomb, designed to prevent unintended detonation, three failed to operate properly. When the bomb hit the ground, a firing signal was sent to the nuclear core of the device, and it was only that final, highly vulnerable switch that averted calamity. "The MK 39 Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne alert role in the B-52," Jones concludes.

    The document was uncovered by Schlosser as part of his research into his new book on the nuclear arms race, Command and Control. Using freedom of information, he discovered that at least 700 "significant" accidents and incidents involving 1,250 nuclear weapons were recorded between 1950 and 1968 alone.

    "The US government has consistently tried to withhold information from the American people in order to prevent questions being asked about our nuclear weapons policy," he said. "We were told there was no possibility of these weapons accidentally detonating, yet here's one that very nearly did."

    Source: The accident happened when a B-52 bomber got into trouble, having embarked from Seymour Johnson Air Force base in Goldsboro for a routine flight along the East Coast. As it went into a tailspin, the hydrogen bombs it was carrying became separated. One fell into a field near Faro, North Carolina, its parachute draped in the branches of a tree; the other plummeted into a meadow off Big Daddy's Road.

    Jones found that of the four safety mechanisms in the Faro bomb, designed to prevent unintended detonation, three failed to operate properly. When the bomb hit the ground, a firing signal was sent to the nuclear core of the device, and it was only that final, highly vulnerable switch that averted calamity. "The MK 39 Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne alert role in the B-52," Jones concludes.

    The document was uncovered by Schlosser as part of his research into his new book on the nuclear arms race, Command and Control. Using freedom of information, he discovered that at least 700 "significant" accidents and incidents involving 1,250 nuclear weapons were recorded between 1950 and 1968 alone.

    "The US government has consistently tried to withhold information from the American people in order to prevent questions being asked about our nuclear weapons policy," he said. "We were told there was no possibility of these weapons accidentally detonating, yet here's one that very nearly did."

    The accident happened when a B-52 bomber got into trouble, having embarked from Seymour Johnson Air Force base in Goldsboro for a routine flight along the East Coast. As it went into a tailspin, the hydrogen bombs it was carrying became separated. One fell into a field near Faro, North Carolina, its parachute draped in the branches of a tree; the other plummeted into a meadow off Big Daddy's Road.

    Jones found that of the four safety mechanisms in the Faro bomb, designed to prevent unintended detonation, three failed to operate properly. When the bomb hit the ground, a firing signal was sent to the nuclear core of the device, and it was only that final, highly vulnerable switch that averted calamity. "The MK 39 Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne alert role in the B-52," Jones concludes.

    The document was uncovered by Schlosser as part of his research into his new book on the nuclear arms race, Command and Control. Using freedom of information, he discovered that at least 700 "significant" accidents and incidents involving 1,250 nuclear weapons were recorded between 1950 and 1968 alone.

    "The US government has consistently tried to withhold information from the American people in order to prevent questions being asked about our nuclear weapons policy," he said. "We were told there was no possibility of these weapons accidentally detonating, yet here's one that very nearly did."

    Source: US nearly detonated atomic bomb over North Carolina – secret document | World news | theguardian.com
     
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  3. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    If not for that switch ewald wouldn't be posting on dfi.

    I still blame obama though :D
     
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  4. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    I think he was in Germany at that time. He'd probably have been getting ready to invade the Warsaw Pact, if the comment below is to be believed:

    @W.G.Ewald, @lookieloo, @average american, @asianobserve, @Energon, @Known_Unknown, @Waffen SS
     
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  5. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    I was still in high school at the time.

    As far as the snarky remarks from Guardian readers about GEN Lemay, those faggot Brits can kiss my entire ass. That so-called psychopath and war criminal brought about the surrender of Japan.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
  6. Waffen SS

    Waffen SS New Member

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    Despite having great technically advanced weapons, what US lacks that is professionalism. Number of friendly fire incident is frequent in US military, sinking of USS Indianapolis, Port Chikago Disaster, West Loch Disaster US Navy high ranking officers were responsible for this or having massive number of weapons which they cant maintain properly. With massive number of Friendly fire incidents.

    West Loch disaster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Port Chicago disaster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    5 times we almost nuked ourselves by accident

    And one painful incident in 1944, Bombay, India.

    Bombay Explosion (1944) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    8 Worst Cases of Friendly Fire - Listverse
     
  7. trackwhack

    trackwhack Tihar Jail Banned

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    Nice bluff. Japan was on the threshold of surrender. Nuking Japan was not necessary, except that US needed to show the rest of the world who had the biggest hog after ww2.
     
  8. lookieloo

    lookieloo Regular Member

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    Exclusive??? The pillock doesn't mention that this event has been well published for years. Incidentally, I believe the government still owns an easement around the spot where one of the weapons fell because some parts (there are debates about which) were never recovered.
     
  9. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    While I agree that nuking Japan was not necessary, I do not agree with the way you keep flame-baiting people. You need to calm down, and learn to behave like a gentleman, if you want to be treated like one, i.e.. So far, you convey the impression not very unlike the Duke of Saxony's nephew!
     
  10. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    This event was published, but the document (link in OP) was, I believe, made exclusively available to us by Mr. Eric Schlosser.
     
  11. Waffen SS

    Waffen SS New Member

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    It was necessary to bomb Japan. Why?

    It was necessary to use that.Not only to save American lives also Japanese lives.

    There were three alternatives to the Atomic bombing of Japan with it’s attendant 200,000 (approx) casualties

    Firstly, hold off on the Nukes and bomb the Japanese into submission using conventional bombs. Remember that 120,000 people died in one raid on Tokyo(Tokyo fire bombing) and it appeared to have no effect on the Japanese will to continue fighting. More ever by 1945 US B 29 bombers were devastating frequently Japan's hometowns.

    Secondly, invade the Japanese home islands where the civilian population were being trained to take on the invaders with carving knives attached to broom handles,as well as new volunteer force was made.
    The estimates for casualties, based on what happened on Iwo Zima,Okinawa and Saipan.Remember in these 3 islands,considered Japanese home land,Japanese soldiers fought to death,even there were many hide outs of Japanese soldiers who did not surrender.There US marines and Army had to fight a lot.
    And also any one should not forget land based Kamikazes,they resulted heavy damage on US navy in Okinawa and Iwo Zima,by August Japanese invented "Okha" suicide crafts,it could carry 1200 KG bomb,it was far better than normal aircrafts that Japan used for Kamikazes.
    Zero plane,attached with 250 Kg bomb,it was easy to shoot down,as it lacked armour.
    Same to other planes,Japanese pilots by 1945 was ill trained than Americans,most of the Kamikazes were shot down on way by US fighter or anti-aircraft guns.But Okha was very fast to shoot down.

    Thirdly, to starve them out.
    Blockade the Japanese home ports whilst continuing the ground war in China-Burma-India and wait for them to drop from exhaustion. Sounds great doesn’t it? Minimal casualties, no-one killed by iron or atomic bombs falling from the sky, everyone happy to see the end of the war. Let’s look at the likely final scenario.
    After the war had been won in 1946 or 7 with the pitiful sight of the last Japanese soldiers dropping from starvation on the home islands, and the inevitable pictures taken as the victorious Allied soldiers marched through a country blighted by the death of 90% of it’s civilian population, bodies putrefying and unburied on the streets, dysentery, cholera and various other diseases rampant among the few remaining lucky survivors, how long would it have been before the Bleeding Heart Liberals started comparing Truman to Hitler and claiming that he had treated the Japanese as bad as Germany had treated the Jews by locking them up and giving them no means of sustenance?
    And then when it turns out that he had a bomb that would have shown the might of the USA to the world and maybe one or two of them dropped on strategic towns may have forced the Japanese to surrender early and forgo the horrors of 2 years of starvation. OH MY, he would have been pilloried.
    So which of the 4 possible methods would you have chosen? Would you have the brass cojones necessary to pick the one with the least total casualties?

    So it seems atomic bombing was right according to contemporary situation.Also US warned Japan,that if Japan would not surrender,they(US) would use a new very powerful,and leaflets were also dropped,still Japanese decided to continue war.
    Even after drop of atom bombs,some Japanese Generals decided to continue fighting.[/QUOTE]
    Kyūjō Incident - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    So it appears that Japan lost their Military equipments a lot, but not the fighting spirit.

    I think I deserve some likes by fellow Amerikaners(German word for Americans) for supporting them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
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  12. lookieloo

    lookieloo Regular Member

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    So in other words, he used the FoI act to get the exact same information I've already read in multiple sources. Whooptyfvckingdoo for him. :rolleyes:
     
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  13. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    I'll take your word for it. I suppose it is one way for Guardian to attract readership, if it is not really exclusive, as they claim it to be.
     
  14. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Knew this ..
     
  15. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    I agree with this part ..

     
  16. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Be all that as it may, it was not General Lemay's decision to use the atomic bomb it was the decision of President Truman..

    Curtis LeMay
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
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  17. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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  18. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Lemay was behind the development of the X-16.

    Bell X-16 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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