1961 Goldsboro Nuclear Accident

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1961 Goldsboro Nuclear Accident

Postby notlaw99 on Fri Jun 13, 2014 10:15 am

New Details on the 1961 Goldsboro Nuclear Accident


One of the two Mk39 thermonuclear weapons that landed when a B-52 bomber broke up over Goldsboro, North Carolina in February 1961. This was the weapon that came closest to detonation.
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Re: 1961 Goldsboro Nuclear Accident

Postby SAC Killer on Fri Jun 13, 2014 10:11 pm

Most commentators discussing Broken Arrow incidents focus on how "close" the weapon(s) involved came to detonating. They gloss over, or ignore, the fact that none did. The multiple safeties worked in every incident, regardless of how violent it was. In some cases -- Goldsboro was one -- the incident lead designers to make improvements. Designers must satisfy two mutually exclusive requirements: (1) make them detonate when we want them to, without fail; and (2) keep them from ever detonating when we don't want them to, no matter how much they are mistreated. It seems to me the designers have done an astoundingly good job at solving that problem.
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Re: 1961 Goldsboro Nuclear Accident

Postby PASMAN II on Sat Oct 04, 2014 6:03 pm

Schlosser (Command & Control) gives a good accounting of the incident: Centrifugal forces pulled the lanyard on the bomb release mechanism and one of the Mark 39's fell from the B-52 the same as if the crew had released it. The arming wires were yanked out. The pulse generator activated the low-voltage batteries. The drogue parachute opened, as well as the main chute. The barometric switches closed. The timer expired, thereby activating the high-voltage thermal batteries. When the bomb hit the ground, the pizoelectric crystals inside the nose were crushed. They sent a firing signal. But the weapon didn't detonate. Every single safety mechanism failed except one: the Ready/Safe switch was still in the Safe position when the Mark 39 dropped.

I don't know about you guys, but that's as close to "Boom" as I ever want to get!

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Re: 1961 Goldsboro Nuclear Accident

Postby TerrorOfTucson on Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:33 am

Let us all now praise our weapons designers, and especially they what did the W-53s on top of Titan IIs (Little Rock--Hoo, Doggies!)
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