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.