How many more stories of these near misses are out there that we don’t know about? (From the Guardian and the Washington Post):
Two hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on Jan. 24, 1961 after a B-52 bomber broke up in flight. One of the bombs apparently acted as if it was being armed and fired — its parachute opened and trigger mechanisms engaged.
Parker F. Jones at the Sandia National Laboratories analyzed the accident in a document headed “How I learned to mistrust the H-Bomb.”
“The MK39 Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne-alert role in the B-52,” he wrote. When the B-52 disintegrates in the air it is likely to release the bombs in “a near normal fashion,” he wrote, calling the safety mechanisms to prevent accidental arming “not complex enough.”
It’s estimated that if this bomb had gone off, it would have been 260 times more powerful than the atomic bomb that wiped out Hiroshima.
This happened four days after John F. Kennedy was inaugurated. Almost two years later, we were on the edge of nuclear annihilation waiting for Russia to remove nuclear warheads from Cuba.
The actual document can be found here.
Lucky for us, this was the only near miss ever recorded. Right?
In March 1958, an American B-47E bomber flying en route to Britain dropped its payload — an atomic bomb similar to the infamous Fat Boy — on Florence, South Carolina. Yes, you read that right. Luckily, only six people were injured. No one died.
Blessedly, it didn’t detonate. Well, actually, it sorta did.
The payload was released right over the home of Mr. Walter Gregg of Mars Bluff, a small, rural area of South Carolina. While the bomb was smaller than the nuclear monsters to come, the trigger, 7,600 pounds of TNT, went off on impact, obliterating poor Gregg’s house, injuring his family, damaging a nearby church and houses within a five-mile radius. According to local reports, the TNT itself left a crater 70 by 35 feet wide and was big enough to produce a small mushroom cloud. Greggs received a small settlement.
Uh oh! Does the government have something against the Carolinas? Let’s take a look at the result of this one.
Kind of makes you wonder how big can a nuclear bomb get?
Once again, my curiosity leads me to something I didn’t need to know.