Plane crash in 1961 and other incidents with nuclear weapon in the U.S.

U.S. authorities to declassify information about the fall of the strategic bomber B-52G Stratofortress with 2 hydrogen bombs Mark 39 mod 2 on board in North Carolina in 1961. According to a report compiled in 1969, one of the bombs was actually ready to be undermined, and only helped out a huge part of the magic of the East Coast of the United States from radiation damage. In general, different emergency situations with a strategic weapon occurred in the United States many times, with very little in the five cases, the country was subjected to the most true nuclear danger.

Incident in Goldsboro

In the night from 23 to 24 January 1961 the South American strategic bomber B-52G Stratofortress in Operation Coverall inflated to simulate combat readiness of the strategic U.S. forces did patrol the coast. Above the town of Goldsboro, North Carolina bomber had to refuel in the air, but when approaching a tanker aircraft commander found a fuel leak from the fuel tank on the right wing. It was decided to cease refueling.

GCC commander gave an indication of B-52G to head to the coast and stay in the air right up to the complete exhaustion of fuel supplies, but soon discovered that the loss of fuel and increased for three minutes amounted to 17 tons. Bomber was ordered to go to an aerodrome near Goldsboro. By lowering the plane began to break down, and the crew was ordered to leave the bomber incident. 5 crew members survived, one died at the landing with a parachute and two more — in plane crash: they could not get out of the B-52G in the air.

Destruction bombers began at an altitude of approximately 3 thousand meters. With all this fell out of it the first nuclear bomb Mark 39 mod 2, and at a height of 610 meters — the second. One of them fell into the marshland and deeply buried in the ground, and the other tripped on parachute dropped to the ground without damage. Over the next few days painstakingly combed the area of ​​impact. From the bomb that fell into the swampy area, there were few details, tritium and plutonium charge reservoir of the first stage.

Since the site of the alleged bomb dropped constantly flooded groundwater searches munition remnants had to finish soon. Later for safety engineering bought U.S. troops land on which are the remains of Mark 39 mod 2. Bomb, dropping by parachute, promptly taken for examination and recovery. In general, it is all the information that was known about the incident to the nearest time.


Mock bombs Mark 39 mod 0

Photo: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

September 20, 2013, The Guardian wrote that the U.S. declassified report on the investigation of the incident with bombs in Goldsboro. Copy of the report was journalist Eric Schlosser, writing a book about the nuclear arms race and the development of nuclear weapons. Documents came to South American journalist under the law on freedom of the distribution disk imaging; they can be found on the website of The Guardian.

First, on the website of the English edition was published by the only material of bombs falling in North Carolina. He described the already known sequence of events, but one opened hitherto unknown fact. System protection bombs Parachute disconnected in alternate order of battle. Just their munition was found four; at the time of landing three had shut down. According to the newspaper, for four bomb megaton power had to work late, low-voltage switch, but it did not happen.

A few hours after the publication of the first material The Guardian has posted a copy of the report prepared in 1969 by Parker Jones, head of the department of nuclear safety Sandia national laboratories. Interesting, but this paper argues that the bomb was armed with six safety devices, of which 5 were switched into the firing position. Fuses disconnected with decreasing bomb from the time of parachute deployment. With all this power of the bomb, the report stated at the level of 24 megatons (it 1,200 times more power bomb «Little Boy» dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945).

In conclusion, Jones wrote: «One conventional low-voltage switch is caught between the United States and a large-scale disaster!» Spec also noted that the bombs Mark 39 mod 2 because of the nature of their design should be removed from the role in the operations of air patrolling, since the fall of B- 52 they may fall out of the bomber, as in ordinary relief, and means will be given in fighting condition. «Another conclusion: Bomb Mk 39 mod 2 could explode» — again, Jones said.

According to the military, in the case if a nuclear warhead load under radiation damage would fall most of the U.S. East Coast, including Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New-york. What specific disk imaging, promulgated The Guardian, must believe, is unclear. The fact that the power of the bomb betrothed Jones — 24 megatons — does not correspond to its type mentioned in the same report. Mark 39 bombs were released in the U.S. from 1957 to 1966 Year in 3 versions: mod 0, mod 1 and mod 2. Differences between versions were only structural: the number of security systems, the principle of initiation (in the air or by contact with the ground ).


Bomb Mark 15 mod 1


According to open sources, the two-phase power bombs made by the Teller-Ulam scheme, was 3.8 megatons. Simplified scheme Teller-Ulam implies detonation in two steps: the first occurs undermining the primary charge, the energy of which is transferred to a special channel secondary. Detonation secondary battery has a greater energy output. So Makar, the report erroneously indicated or the power of bombs that fell in Goldsboro, or type. In 1961, armed with the U.S. was only one type of nuclear bomb capacity of about 25 megatons: Mark 41. They are mass-produced from 1960 to 1962.

On the verge of extinction

Drop bombs in Goldsboro — not the only case where a U.S. territory is under threat of nuclear destruction. According to official statistics, from 1950 to 1968 in the United States it was about 700 different incidents from 1250 South American nuclear warheads of various types. With all this, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, with the year 1950 was recorded 32 emergency incidents with a strategic tool. Smallest 5 of them could end in a nuclear explosion.

Question is not about the apparent loss of nuclear weapons as a result of the tragedy, as, for example, was published in February 1958 in the state of Georgia. Then in the air faced bomber B-47 Stratojet and fighter F-86 Sabre. Aboard a bomber that crashed after the collision (pilots ejected), was a bomb Mark 15 mod 0 capacity of about 3 megatons. She fell out of the aircraft near the island of Tybee Island and was never found. Later, in 1964, in Frostburg, Maryland B-52 bomber with nuclear bombs on board hit severe turbulence and disintegrated in the air. Bombs were soon discovered and removed from the crash site.

Similar cases, the story of the South American nuclear weapons knows a huge amount. But for the first time the United States faced a real danger of a nuclear explosion on its territory 13 July 1950. Then the bomber B-50 Superfortress, taking off from an airbase «Biggs» under Lebanon, Ohio on exercises with a nuclear bomb on board, lost control and fell down near the site of takeoff. Shards aircraft lit up in flames, and were equipped with nuclear bombs. In 1986, avid description of the incident was published by the Research Institute for Radiobiology research of U.S. armed forces (AFRRI).

Second time an atomic explosion occurred almost 22 May 1957, when a bomber B-36 Peacemaker carrying thermonuclear bomb airbase «Biggs» the base «Kirtlend» in New Mexico. When approaching the endpoint of the route bomb type which has not been named, fell out of an airplane. Munition fell 7 kilometers from the control tower Fri airbase «Kirtlend» and just 500 meters from the warehouse of nuclear weapons «Sandia.» In the fall of ordinary detonate explosive bombs, which in normal conditions initiates detonation plutonium core. Nuclear explosion did not work, but at the crash site of a bomb crater depth of 3.7 meters and a diameter of 7.6 meters.


Mock bombs Mark 6

Photo: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Incident that occurred July 27, 1956, was not associated with the transport of nuclear weapons. Then the B-47 bomber he fell to store strategic bombs Mark 6 (these bombs were produced in versions with capacity of eight, 26, 80, 154 and 160 kilotons). According to the summary of operational USAF aircraft from falling debris destroyed the store, knocked down billboards with three bombs. Then an explosion of fuel in the tanks of the B-47, which has spread to six bombs. One of deminers working at the scene, said in a report that one of the bombs falling at the B-47 were installed detonators and «it’s magic that it did not explode.»

March 11, 1958 B-47 bomber taking off from an airbase on patrol «Hunter» near the town of Savannah in Georgia, because of problems in the case threw the bomb bay bomb. She fell on the house, then worked in the bomb ordinary explosive device that served as primer for the plutonium core. The latter does not detonate. As a result of this incident a few people were injured. Details of the incident are unknown to this day. This event came just a month after the collision B-47 and F-86 in the air over Georgia.

These cases — officially known facts when only magic separated from the United States is not far nuclear test explosions. All whether similar incidents at this day it is clear the public, we can only guess. The last time the Pentagon officially opened the data on accidents with nuclear weapon in 1986, while the published information were very greedy and did not contain details of the incident.

After the fall of the B-47 bomber in 1958 in the United States was still a huge number of recorded incidents of large nuclear weapon. For example, in 1961 near Yuba City in California fell bomber B-52 with 2 nuclear bombs on board. Fuses on the bombs did not refuse; ammunition did not explode despite the fall and fire. In 1980, in Damascus, Arkansas explosion spilled fuel rocket Titan-II during its maintenance. W53 warhead explosion ejected nine megatons capacity fell 30 meters from the mine. But in these cases, regardless of their scale, nuclear danger for the U.S. is still not there.
Vasily Sychev

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