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NUCLEAR WEAPON ACCIDENTS

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NUCLEAR WEAPON ACCIDENTS Powered By Docstoc
					NUCLEAR WEAPON
   ACCIDENTS
              By
       John C. Taschner
       1840 Corleone Dr.
       Sparks, NV 89434
         775/356-0474
   johntaschner6596@cs.com

                             1
            The Cold War - 1
• June 22, 1948 - USSR blocks access to West
  Berlin
• June 24, 1948 - Berlin Airlift begins
• Early July 1948 – USSR threatened to interfere
  with airlift
• July/August 1948 – Truman orders B-29 “atomic
  bombers” to England
• August 29, 1949 - USSR Explodes 1st A-bomb
• May 12, 1949 - Berlin Airlift ends; 277,000
                   flights. 2.3 million tons of food
                                                       2
          The Cold War - 2
• June 25, 1950 – No. Korea invades So.
                  Korea
• October 14, 1962 - Cuban Missile Crisis
     USAF U-2 photographs Soviet missiles
     in Cuba
     SAC on full alert. 70 B-52s airborne &
     fully armed
     These were Frightening Times!
                                              3
      Nuclear Weapon Design

• Early fission weapons (so called “Open Pit
Weapons”) were in two parts.
        Weapon case and capsule
• Capsule carried apart from the weapon in special
container called a “birdcage”
• Without capsule inserted into weapon case,
nuclear yield was not possible

                                                     4
5
      Nuclear Weapon Design

• Modern weapons are “Sealed Pit” weapons

• Nuclear material is surrounded by high explosive
and detonators
• Weapons must be designed to be “One-point safe”
• Detonation of HE in an accident will not produce a
nuclear yield - non-uniform implosion


                                                       6
      THE IMPLOSION WEAPON

            Subcritical         Compressed
              mass              supercritical
                                mass


                               Implosion

                          High explosive

Before Firing                                   After Firing



                                                               RaLa-3
   Staged weapon

                                               Radiation case


                Primary        Secondary




Reentry body




Unclassified illustration of a staged weapon




                                                                7a
      What is a Nuclear Weapon
              Accident?
• Accidental or unauthorized launching, firing, or use
• Nuclear detonation
• Non-Nuclear detonation or burning of a nuclear weapon,
unassembled weapon or radioactive component
• Radioactive contamination
• Seizure, theft, or loss of a nuclear weapon or radioactive
component, includes jettisoning
• Public hazard: actual or implied

                                                               8
8a
       SAC Airborne Alerts
      Operation Reflex Action
• Began in 1950
• B-47s on 90-day Rotation to OCONUS
  bases in England, Spain & North Africa
• Mid-air Refueling by KC-97s stationed in
  the Azores



                                             9
     Accident Related to Operation
            Reflex Action
•   3/10/56 (Accident 6) - Mediterranean Sea
•   7/27/56 (Accident 7) - SAC Overseas Base
•   10/11/57 (Accident 10) - Homestead AFB, FL
•   1/31/58 (Accident 11) - SAC Overseas Base
•   3/11/58 (Accident 13) - Florence, SC
•   11/4/58 (Accident 14) Dyess, AFB, TX

                                                 10
11
Accident 10: Homestead AFB, FL
• B-47 took off just after midnight on October
  11, 1957 on Reflex deployment mission
• Aircraft was carrying one nuclear weapon
  and one capsule in its birdcage
• At liftoff an outrigger tire exploded.
• Fire in inboard engine pod.
• Aircraft failed to develop full power

                                                 12
Accident 10: Homestead AFB, KL
• Aircraft struck a dike then a concrete
  culvert and cart-wheeled to a point 3,800
  feet from end of runway killing the crew
• Aircraft and bomb engulfed in flame
• Two low-order HE detonations occurred
• Capsule recovered intact. Weapon badly
  damaged. No radiological contamination

                                              13
 SAC Airborne Alerts Operation
        Chrome Dome
• B-52 Bombers on Airborne Alert Carrying Nuclear
Weapons
• Operations began in 1961; Ended in 1968
• Operations Required Mid-air Refueling by KC-135
Tankers - At Least two per Mission
• Mission Length - Up to 24 hours


                                                    14
     Operation Chrome Dome
        Southern Mission
• Two B-52s from SAC bases in Eastern U.S.
• Mid-air Refueling over northern Spain
  inbound by KC-135 Tankers from Torrejon
  AB
• Flight path along Mediterranean Sea
• Mid-air Refueling over southern Spain
  (Palomares) outbound by KC-135 Tankers
  from Moron AB
                                             15
16
     Operation Chrome Dome
        Northern Mission
• Two B-52s from SAC bases in Northern &
  South Central U.S.
• Mid-air refueling over Maine and south of
  Great Lakes
• Mission station off coast of Novaya Zemlya
• Mission Length - 24 hours

                                               17
18
     Operation Chrome Dome
           West Route
• B-52s from SAC bases in the western U.S.
• Departed U.S. over Washington State &
  paralleled western Canadian coastline
• First refueling over Alaska then northward
  for 700 miles then return to Alaska for
  second refueling
• Westward north of Aleutian chain then east
  to Alaska and return over Washington State
                                               19
    Accidents Related to Operation
           Chrome Dome
•   10/15/59 (Accident 19) - Hardinsburg, KY
•   1/24/61 (Accident 21) - Goldsboro, SC
•   3/14/61 (Accident 22) - Yuba City, CA
•   1/17/66 (Accident 29) - Palomares, Spain
•   1/21/68 (Accident 30) - Thule, Greenland



                                               20
  Accident 29: Palomares, Spain
• Mid-air collision with KC-135 tanker
  during refueling operation
• All four crewmen of the KC-135 were
  killed
• Four of the seven crewmen of the B-52
  were killed
• All four thermonuclear weapons fell from
  the B-52
                                             21
22
23
        Palomares Accident
         Fate of Weapons
• WPN #1 - Parachute deployed. Landed SW
  of Palomares. Slightly damaged
• WPN#2 & 3 - Parachutes did not fully
  deploy. HE detonated on impact. Plutonium
  contamination
• WPN#4 - Parachute deployed. Landed in
  Mediterranean Sea. Recovered on April 7

                                              24
25
Weapon # 1   26
27
Weapon # 4   28
29
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       Accident 30: Thule AB
            Greenland
• Accident occurred on January 21, 1968
• B-52 from Plattsburg AFB, NY carrying
  four thermonuclear weapons
• Fire onboard aircraft. Attempted landing at
  Thule AB. Fire uncontrolled.
• Crew bailed out over Thule AB. One killed
• Aircraft crashed on ice cap 7.5 miles from
  Thule AB
                                                38
       Accident 30: Thule AB
            Greenland
• HE in all four weapons detonated
• Widespread plutonium contamination
• Aircraft and weapon debris scattered over 3
  square mile area
• Accident occurred in total; darkness and -24
  degree temperature


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