6
   

How healthy is Nostalgia for the Cold War Days?

 
 
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2016 11:48 am
Context: The Atomic Cafe (1982)
http://i63.tinypic.com/5eu7hf.jpg
Source

It's clear that Russia is deeply nostalgic for that era with Vladimir Putin pushing the country in that direction. Trump also seems to be ready to return to those days (albeit he would likely have the US ally with Russia and we'll need the entire population of Islam and Central and South America as the collective enemy).
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  3  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2016 12:00 pm
@tsarstepan,
Well, it has been a lot different on those days, I think.

I was in my early 20's when I'd been actively part of the "Cold War" for some time (but lived during all my childhood and youth literally next to nuclear missile stations and just 100 miles away from the "Iron Curtain")
What we did and I saw ... would be in the main news today, but was everyday life then.
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2016 02:45 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
In the late fifties, in my late twenties, I worked with nuclear weapons in the USAF/SAC. During those four years in the air force, the progress on nukes were amazing. Early on, we had to handle the uranium (covered with lead) with our hands. We wore radiation exposure badges that were measured regularly. By the time I was discharged, we no longer had to handle them by hand.
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2016 08:46 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Removable pits were a very good safety feature. If the high explosive in a bomb were to go off, there would be no nuclear explosion if there were no uranium or plutonium in the center of the implosion device.

They had to phase them out because designs started being made to tolerances too tight to allow for a pit that could be inserted with human hands.

But due to the loss of this safety feature, we came perilously close to nuking ourselves with our own weapons a couple times in the 1960s.

These close calls are what led to the cancellation of bombers patrolling the sky with live bombs, in favor of bombers sitting on runways prepared to take off at a moment's notice.
roger
 
  2  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2016 08:56 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:

Early on, we had to handle the uranium (covered with lead) with our hands. We wore radiation exposure badges that were measured regularly.


Damn man! You'll be lucky to make it past fifty.
cicerone imposter
 
  3  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2016 09:26 pm
@oralloy,
Not true: There are safety features on nuclear bombs that are error proof. That's the reason there have never been anything perilously close to a nuclear explosion. What you may have read in the media are all false. I worked with them for four years.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2016 09:29 pm
@roger,
We wore exposure badges when we had to handle the uranium by hand, but that feature was stopped not long after my enlistment into the air force.
Since I had two healthy boys some years later, I knew my working with nukes didn't affect me.
roger
 
  2  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2016 09:39 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Oh, well okay then. I guess you dodged another bullet.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2016 09:46 pm
@roger,
BTW, roger, I'm 80. Because of my travels (83 countries), many of my friends have told me that I should write a book. I've been retired since 1998, and I'm not in any way "going back to work."
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2016 10:06 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:
Not true: There are safety features on nuclear bombs that are error proof. That's the reason there have never been anything perilously close to a nuclear explosion. What you may have read in the media are all false. I worked with them for four years.

The very large bombs that we carried in bombers in the 1960s had four safety features.

#1 required a certain amount of electrical current to be applied to the bomb to rotate a cylinder therein. Rotated one way, all the pathways needed for the bomb to detonate were open. Rotated the other way, all the pathways were blocked and detonation was impossible. Electrical current could only be applied if both the pilot and the bomber (who were in different sections of the plane) simultaneously held down a button.

Unfortunately wiring was sometimes faulty, and there were a number of instances where bombs got enough current to arm themselves without the crew even realizing it until the plane was back on the ground.


#2 required a large pin to be pulled out of the bomb (something like pulling the pin from a grenade). This pin was connected to a rope that went to the pilot, who would pull the pin by pulling on the rope.

#3 required a heavy strip to be pulled from the bomb. One end of the heavy strip was permanently attached to the bomber, and when a bomb was dropped and fell from the plane, the strip would be pulled out by the bomb falling away from the plane.

#4 required the bomb to sense that air was rushing by it at a high velocity (consistent with freefall after being dropped from the plane).


Unfortunately there were two cases where a plane broke apart in midair and the rope in #2 snagged, pulling the pin out as the plane started to come apart, then the bomb fell from the plane as the plane broke apart further, which also pulled out the strip from #3, and then the freefalling bomb sensed the air rushing by appropriately, so #4 was also activated.

In both cases the only thing that prevented a full-yield explosion was #1. The electrical current had not been applied to either bomb.

But given all the cases where faulty wiring did apply electrical current to bombs without anyone realizing it, we were very very lucky.

In one of the two "almost" cases, the bomb was a 4 megaton dirty bomb set for groundburst. I haven't found conclusive data on the other case, but I suspect that that bomb might have been even worse yet.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  2  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2016 10:10 pm
@cicerone imposter,
I knew that or I wouldn't have said anything about making it to fifty
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2016 10:18 pm
@roger,
You'll have to forgive my short memory. It seems my wife reminds me more frequently about things - especially taking of my pills.
0 Replies
 
Tes yeux noirs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2016 07:10 am
When I was a kid I really liked a British strategic bomber aircraft - the Avro Vulcan. 50 years later I still think it is one of the most handsome aircraft ever. Squadrons of them were put on 4 minutes readiness during the Cuban missile crisis. I didn't like another V-bomber type, the Handley Page Victor, at the time. Too weird looking. Now I appreciate its looks more. BUT I am awfully glad they never had to take their nuclear devices to the Soviet Union, and I definitely wouldn't want those days back. The Vulcan and Victor both survived to the 1980s and took part in Operation Black Buck, the (conventional) bombing raid on Port Stanley during the Falklands war. Up to the first Gulf War these were the longest-ranged raids in history at 6,800 miles. I think a lot of Brits like the Vulcan because it was all ours - we designed and built it without any help from the Yanks, and the first hydrogen bomb the fleet carried, the Yellow Sun mark I, was a British design.

Vulcan:
http://www.simplyplanes.co.uk/images/pages_images/v_bombers/vulcan/main_page_photo/vulcan_main_page_photo.jpg

Victor:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2XqosMF2mOc/Ty3pGh1MlrI/AAAAAAAABh4/PzhZ1BIwX9s/s1600/Victor+Prototype+WB775+2.jpg
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2016 07:21 am
@Tes yeux noirs,
We'd got English Electric Canberras at the local RAF base.
Tes yeux noirs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2016 07:33 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Quote:
English Electric Canberras

I liked them too, (still do), especially the side-by-side cockpit models. At the time I thought the English Electric Lightning was a very impressive aircraft, but looking back I can see it had some big shortcomings - poor range and very demanding to fly.

Canberra
http://www.tangmere-museum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/Canberra-4.jpg

http://www.aviationmuseum.com.au/whouse/aircraft/canberra/English-Electric-Canberra-TT-18-bg.jpg

Lightning
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/6f/c1/be/6fc1be335dac4764c87ccc6cd9585496.jpg

InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2016 09:50 am
@tsarstepan,
tsarstepan wrote:
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2016 09:54 am
@Tes yeux noirs,
From the mid-60's onwards, a Harrier squadron from the nearby RAF-airbase ...
http://i68.tinypic.com/2ds974.jpg
... moved 40 kn southwestwards to my native town ...
http://i64.tinypic.com/30vkuv8.jpg
... doing some serious exercises ...
http://i65.tinypic.com/wlp1du.jpg
http://i65.tinypic.com/rc2ex2.jpg

That happened at least twice per year over a period of up to three weeks.

Instead of doing my homework for school, I watched them from our house using two church spires as beacons - or I cycled to the airfield.
(Three came down, I think, due to technical and human errors.)
Tes yeux noirs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2016 10:17 am
Those RAF guys look like hippies with their sideburns.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2016 10:36 am
@Walter Hinteler,
But regarding my own "naval engagement" during the cold war days ... I really think back about it with nostalgic memories --- all the - sometimes dramatic situations and - bad memories are nearly forgotten.

http://i63.tinypic.com/ziq7px.jpg
When following this ship (a Soviet intelligence gathering ship, which looked like a fishing trawler), we did circles around that ship every morning, when the crew (about 100 were on deck!) did their morning gymnastics ... and played with our exterior loud speakers "The Internationale".
And during a rainy period, we stood with umbrellas on the open bridge - that certainly had confused them, these new German weapons Wink

cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2016 10:42 am
@Walter Hinteler,
The closest I ever came in direct combat was when I was stationed at Ben Guerir AFB in Morocco. A huge band of horsemen with rifles rode toward our base, and we were told to get our carbines and 45s ready. Before they reached 100 yards of our base, they turned around and disappeared.
I've often wondered what that was about, because Morocco is one of our oldest allies.
 

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