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Anybody serve in SAC?

 
 
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2016 06:39 pm
I was in the USAF in the late fifties. Was stationed at Travis AFB, Ben Guerir AFB, and Walker AFB. Worked in munitions and nukes. Interesting stuff. We were told not to talk about our jobs outside the secured area where the bombs were stored, but now they have the Fat Boy displayed at the museum in Texas, and pictures are available on the internet. So much for 'our' Top Secret.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 2,040 • Replies: 20

 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2016 06:55 pm
@cicerone imposter,
My dad had a friend high up in it in the early fifties. The name might come to me - or not - but I probably shouldn't mention it, even in pm. On the other hand, he'd be about 110 yrs old now. I don't remember what he did, just that they (well, both families) were friends. I would have been around twelve.

roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2016 07:07 pm
@cicerone imposter,
I saw replicas of both bombs at the atomic museum in Albuquerque a decade ago. Still, you never know what they haven't gotten around to declassifying. Remember what they say about military intelligence being the ultimate oxymoron.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2016 07:34 pm
@roger,
They call it the "Fat Man." You can see it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_Man
Another tid bit: The nukes developed during my four years in the Air Force were amazing to see. They made them so much smaller.
We also worked with the Mark 40 thermo nuclear bomb. Here's a picture of the Mark 41. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B41_nuclear_bomb
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2016 07:42 pm
@roger,
Back then, we were told not to talk about our jobs outside of the secured area. The penalty back then was ten years in prison and $10,000. You know how much $10,000 was back in the fifties; more like a $1 million today. Not many people had $10k back then.
0 Replies
 
mesquite
 
  3  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 03:13 am
@cicerone imposter,
I was in SAC from 1960-1976. My first job in the USAF was working on the bombing/navigation system on F model B-52s.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 12:36 pm
@ossobuco,
Our boss back in the fifties was Curtis LeMay.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 12:42 pm
@mesquite,
We worked on the B47's, B36's, and B52's. I still remember the sled in the tube on the B52's. I'm amazed to see they're still flying those 'suckers.' They're more than 60 years old, but I'm sure they've updated many of the technology.
Since we had bases all around the world, Russia knew they couldn't do anything to harm us or our allies. I'm sure it's still the same today.
We could enter Russia from all around it, and it was impossible to stop all aircraft and ballistic missiles entering their border.
0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2016 06:55 pm
@cicerone imposter,
I don't know about that wiki article on the Mk-41. It could be right, but I have serious doubts.

There was a three-stage version tested (Hardtack Pine) when the bomb was being developed, but the test was a failure. The test of the two-stage version (Hardtack Poplar) was completely successful, and was identical to the official clean yield of the deployed bomb.

The US did successfully develop three-stage weapons a little later (Dominic Yeso, Bighorn, Pamlico, Housatonic, and several others from the Dominic series). The 35MT clean-yield Titan II warhead that was mentioned in the article coincides with this later success in developing three-stage designs, but these warheads were never deployed due to the civilian government's perpetual obsession with not going over 10MT.

I am highly skeptical of any claims that the Mk-41 was deployed as a three stage weapon.

I also question whether the US ever built 25MT dirty versions of the Mk-41. With the civilian government obsessing about not going over 10MT and wanting to reduce fallout, the only way this bomb could have ever gotten approval would have been as a 10MT clean bomb. I suppose it is possible that the military developed it as a 10MT clean bomb and then built it as a 25MT dirty bomb, but I have my doubts. But then again, the military has pulled a fast one on the civilian government before, so who knows. (For much of the Cold War, the military secretly had the ability to launch all the ICBMs without the launch codes from the President, without the President knowing this.)

And finally, I question the claim that they started retiring them as soon as the Mk-53 started being produced. Seeing as how they developed both designs at the same time (the Mk-53 was tested in Hardtack Oak), and they started building the Mk-53 bombs as soon as they finished building the Mk-41 bombs, if the wiki article is correct it would mean they started disassembling Mk-41 bombs on the same day that the last Mk-41 rolled off the assembly line. That seems pretty wasteful considering that they could have just built Mk-53 bombs alone if that was all that they wanted to end up with. My sense has always been that the Mk-41 and Mk-53 existed side by side in the arsenal throughout the 1960s, and I really doubt that they started retiring Mk-41 bombs as soon as they started producing the Mk-53.


Anyway, regardless of whether the wiki article is right or wrong, all those big bombs were pretty scary in retrospect considering how flimsy the safety features were. We were SO lucky that we didn't nuke ourselves with our own bombs.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2016 07:03 pm
@oralloy,
I always thought the safety features were accident proof. That there never was an accidental explosion/implosion was proof of that safety feature. There were three safety features when I worked with them. I'm not sure it's still the same.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2016 07:23 pm
@roger,
I posted somewhere here re going to the museum with my cousins, they having been based at white sands, not that I know the particular place. I was thinking of giving my stuff to the abq museum and wrote a note on the entry paper.

After tripping on some damned bench (I'm night blind, which also means dim light) I was met by the new director, who suddenly showed up. He had never heard of Bikini. I didn't dislike him, he was new.

I still plan to give them my stuff, whether or not they want it. I'd rather do that before I die.

One more task on my list.
glitterbag
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2016 07:40 pm
@ossobuco,
OMG, he didn't know about bikini???? Please tell me he was a civilian, but even then thats disturbing. Dear God and Holy ****.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2016 07:46 pm
@glitterbag,
Well put, glitterbag:
Quote:
Dear God and Holy ****.
LOL
0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2016 07:53 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:
I always thought the safety features were accident proof. That there never was an accidental explosion/implosion was proof of that safety feature. There were three safety features when I worked with them. I'm not sure it's still the same.

There had to be an electric signal of a certain voltage sent to the bomb for a certain length of time. If all worked as planned, both the pilot and the bomb dropper (located in different parts of the plane) had to simultaneously hold down a switch in order for this signal to be sent.

However short circuits in wiring caused about 30 occasions where bombs got sent enough current to arm them unintentionally.


There was a pin that had to be pulled out of the bomb (something like pulling the pin from a grenade). This pin was pulled by the pilot via a rope from the bomb to the cockpit.

It just so happened that if a plane broke apart in flight, the rope could snag and pull the pin out unintentionally.


There was a heavy strip that had to be pulled out of the bombs. One end of the strip was attached to the bomber, and the strip would be pulled out when a bomb was dropped and fell away from the plane.

It just so happened that if a plane broke apart in flight, bombs could drop from the plane, and in doing so their strip would be pulled out of them.


A bomb had to detect with its own sensors that it was falling through the air at a certain speed before it would fully arm.

It just so happened that once a bomb fell from a disintegrating plane, it would fall through the air fast enough to satisfy the sensors that it was supposed to go off.


We had two incidences of bombers breaking apart over the United States, one in Texas and one in North Carolina. In each case, the only thing that prevented a full yield nuclear explosion was the bomb not having been sent the electric current before it was dropped.

Since we had a number of cases where faulty wiring did send the required electric current to bombs, it was pretty lucky that this hadn't happened in the cases of the two planes that broke apart.

The North Carolina bomb was a 4MT dirty bomb set for a groundburst. I've never managed to get data on the bomb that almost hit Texas.


Modern nukes are much much safer. Unless the proper number sequence is entered into the bomb as part of the arming sequence, it will not explode.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2016 07:53 pm
@glitterbag,
I take it he was a museum person, yes, a civilian, and he was learning from me. I didn't just right away dislike him, he was apparently interested and I'm pretty good at detection.

This brings up, who should run what museums?
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2016 07:57 pm
@ossobuco,
Yes, the guy didn't know much on my issues, and I wonder, wonder, re how people are picked to run such a place. I can see the sense of picking someone who is not all issue involved.
oralloy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2016 11:46 pm
@oralloy,
oralloy wrote:
But then again, the military has pulled a fast one on the civilian government before, so who knows. (For much of the Cold War, the military secretly had the ability to launch all the ICBMs without the launch codes from the President, without the President knowing this.)

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/12/launch-code-for-us-nukes-was-00000000-for-20-years/

Sneaky little buggers, weren't they?
0 Replies
 
glitterbag
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Mar, 2016 12:14 am
@ossobuco,
I'm sorry, I got confused. But I would think this particular civilian was woefully inadequate for this job. I entered DOD as an employee at age 18 during the Vietnamese war, but I knew the history of my agency when it was first formed during WWII. Maybe because my Dad served in the war, but I'll bet the docents at the cryptologic museum can tell you everything about the formation of our agency during the war and how things broadened. The docents were born after the war, but they are knowledgable about our history.

I got distracted OB, if you offered historical information somebody should have been incredibly attentive. It's HISTORY, not fluff about somebody's cousin who was a secretary or special asst.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Mar, 2016 11:29 am
@glitterbag,
Oh, he was attentive, we talked for at least an hour. I was just surprised by his not having knowledge of those particular bomb tests, but he is a museum director, was new at the job (recent hire, I take it) not an atomic historian.
They'll still get my stuff.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Mar, 2016 07:25 pm
@ossobuco,
I designed this patch while stationed at Walker AFB in New Mexico.
http://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/1950s-usaf-37-aviation-depot-squadron-418963297
0 Replies
 
 

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