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In Part 1 we looked at the day to day life of a SAC crew member during the Cold War.

Nukes - Part 1

The whole idea of keeping our nuclear forces on alert was to (ironically enough) prevent a nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union.

We were always afraid that the Soviets might try to take out most of our nuclear forces with a surprise attack. We, of course, wanted them to think that they couldn't get away with it.

The Soviets, at the same time, were afraid we would try to do the same thing to them. Their society was so centrally managed and "top down" that they feared we could take out a few key command and control centers and thus render them incapable of responding. It's not really that far fetched. I'm sure that more than one neoconservative wanted to see us try it.

So basically, we had two idiots pointing guns at each other, fingers on the trigger, terrified that the other guy was going to shoot first. It's amazing that we didn't blow the whole damn thing up. We came close on several occasions. Everyone knows about the Cuban Missile Crisis, but there were others.

Fortunately calmer heads prevailed and we at least put our weapons back in the holster.

So what if everything had gone to hell and we'd actually done it?

I'll give you my best guess as to how I think it would have gone down. It ain't pretty.

Found this old comic book cover on the internet. Not much diversity in that crowd.
We trained for the "bolt out of the blue" surprise attack. We always prepared for the worst case, even if it wasn't that likely.

Everything was based on having at most 20 minutes warning, which is the time of flight for an ICBM launched from the Soviet Union. In reality it might have been a lot less. By the time we spotted the launch, figured out what it was, notified the appropriate people and someone actually made a decision, we're probably talking 10 to 15 minutes tops.

In reality, this scenario was pretty unlikely. What was more likely to happen would have been a crisis in Europe or elsewhere that escalated to conventional war and then quickly to nuclear war.

Everything you heard back in the 80s about fighting a conventional war in Europe or "limiting" a nuclear war to Europe (I'm sure the Europeans loved that idea) was pure crap. We'd probably have been lobbing ICBMs at each other around day 3 of any war with the Soviets. The line between "tactical" and "strategic" nuclear warfare was pretty thin.

This one is fun too.
I'm going to speak in general terms here, partly because I don't know what's classified and what isn't. For those of you who were in SAC, if I don't use the technical term for something that's why.

We most likely would have seen a rapidly escalating situation where we had some time to bring our nuclear forces up to a higher level of alert. We might have "generated" additional nuclear sorties in addition to the ones we normally kept on alert. We might even have dispersed some bombers and tankers to other airfields. We did all this during the Cuban Crisis.

We would possibly have seen the bomber crews first restricted to the alert facility, then probably sitting alert in the cockpit, then sitting at the hold line, engines running.
Note that during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war we reached that level of readiness.

The bombers could even have been launched but not sent to their targets. That was one useful thing about bombers. You could put them in the air to survive an attack and then figure out what you wanted to do with them.

We would have launched using MITO (Minimum Interval Takeoff) procedures - 12 seconds between aircraft. The idea being that there are missiles inbound and we need to get everyone airborne and away from the base as quickly as possible. I've practiced these and they're pretty wild.

B-52 MITO launch from A Gathering of Eagles

Once airborne we would have closed our thermal curtains (heavy shades that covered the cockpit windows) and put on our PLZT "plitz" goggles. These made you look like an Imperial Storm Trooper from Star Wars. All of this was to protect us from flash-blindness and thermal radiation from the nukes that presumably would be going off around us.

PLZT Goggles
Warning
Thermal curtains will not be used as a sun shade on crew training missions. Use of the curtains for this purpose subjects the curtains to abnormal wear which will eventually cause deterioration to the point that their effectiveness as a heat shield is materially decreased.
T.O. 1B-52G-1-11
So, these things are supposed to protect me from nuclear blast, but sunlight hurts them?

So, the big question is: would we have gone if ordered?

Probably.

We used to joke about turning south and making Jamaica the next nuclear power. In reality, we were so well trained I figure we'd have been halfway to Russia before we even thought about what we were doing. Most nuclear scenarios had us dodging mushroom clouds on our way out of the US. Human nature being what it is, we'd have wanted revenge at that point.

Next big question: would we have made it our target(s)?

Maybe.

Our missions from Barksdale would have had us crossing the South Atlantic, launching our cruise missiles somewhere around the Eastern Mediterranean and then making a low-level penetration into the southern parts of the Soviet Union.

Unless it was our bad luck to run into a MiG-31 out over the Med, we probably could have made it to the cruise missile launch point.

After that, it's anyone's guess. Keep in mind that we'd have been lobbing ICBMs at each over for 12 hours by the time I lumbered over there in my B-52. I'm not sure there would have been much left of Soviet air defenses by then.

So what were our targets?

Bombers were mostly tasked against very hardened targets that would have been difficult to take out with an ICBM. Deeply buried command bunkers and such.

Mind you, our tasking had us putting the third or fourth weapon on any given target. So unless the first couple had missed, we'd have just been digging the crater that much deeper.

Oddly enough, we didn't directly target population centers. A lot of people don't realize that. That's very small consolation in reality. A lot of military and economic targets happened to be in or near population centers, so you get the idea. We were aiming for the airbase, sorry about the city you guys had sitting next to it.

So how do you drop a nuke?

You can drop them from high altitude or from low level. They come down on a parachute, to give you time to get away. There was a "safe escape" speed that was supposed to get us far enough away to survive the blast. From low-level we would have to do a PUP (pop up) maneuver to give the parachute enough altitude to deploy.

Its' worth noting that we couldn't arm the weapons without certain codes being sent to us. So much for my plans to become a James Bond villain and hold the world hostage for One Million Dollars!

Could we have been recalled?

Possibly.

Assuming that command-control and communications weren't completely disrupted. I'm not sure how well the HF radios would have worked once nukes started going off all over the place. In the off chance that someone was still around to give the order and we were able to receive it we could be called back.

Finally: would we have made it home?

Possibly, but doubtful.

The plan was for us to land in some allied country close to southern Russia (I won't say who but you can probably figure it out) and refuel the plane, possibly by hand-pumping 50 gallon drums. That would have kept us busy for a while.

There were plans for us to land on dry lake beds or other "natural landing sites" in the US because there probably wouldn't be any runways left at that point.

I suspect there wouldn't be much of home to come back to at that point.

If there are enough shovels to go around, everybody's going to make it.  - Thomas K. Jones, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense during the Reagan administration and general all-around idiot.
The reality is, it would be much worse than you probably think. Probably nothing east of the Mississippi would have lived, and not a whole lot west of it either. If you're living on a reservation somewhere in the remote desert southwest, congratulations, you now own the country. Too bad you won't be able to grow any food for a hundred years or so.

I found an interesting study that the Natural Resources Defense Council did in 2001 on the effects of nuclear weapons. Their findings pretty much confirm what I already knew.

These charts are hard to read, but they show the effects of a relatively small nuclear strike on Russia. Change "Moscow" to "St. Louis" and you'd have a pretty good idea what a strike on Whiteman AFB would do. Now multiply this by a whole lot, and you get the idea....

Effects of limited nuclear strike on Soviet Union.
Effects of limited nuclear strike on Soviet Union.
Now realize that we're talking about thousands of warheads on both sides. When you get to the point where you're targeting warheads against an individual radar site (they did) you know there's not going to be much of anything left.

Cue REM singing "It's the end of the world as we know it...."

So to summarize, in case you didn't already know this, those people back in the 80s who told you things like "We can win a nuclear war with the Russians" or "We can fight a limited nuclear war in Europe" were either idiots or liars or both. Take your pick.

Whew! Pretty serious stuff. Time for a beer:

Yes, I have one of these shirts.
Further reading:
Mapping the Apocalypse
NRDC article on nuclear war plans
15 minutes: General Curtis LeMay and the Countdown to Nuclear Annihilation
The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy

Originally posted to Major Kong on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 01:25 PM PST.

Also republished by Central Ohio Kossacks and Kossack Air Force.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I really appreciate this diary series (13+ / 0-)

    I was a kid during the Reagan years, and was profoundly outraged/terrified about the wrongness of "nuclear brinksmanship". Actually wrote Reagan a letter about that, when I was ten.

    Fascinating to hear the story from the inside!

    •  Me too - Major Kong is teaching me a few things... (6+ / 0-)

      ...and it's pretty cool to get a personal insight into what this was all like.

      I grew up in the 80s - War Games is still a favorite of mine.  While I'm not much of a fan of war, I do enjoy reading about our military.  I like to think I'm decently informed for some random guy on the internet, but as I said - getting a personal perspective on this is really fascinating.

  •  Please, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eataTREE, Joy of Fishes, PeterHug

    consider a better beer choice?

    I'm so glad I found your writing here. It's informative and entertaining. I never thought you Airedales actually had privations as well as us lowly ground types. Good to know.

  •  Always food for thought, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rbird, Bisbonian, Joy of Fishes, JeffW

    When it comes to Armageddon. Thanks, Major Kong, you show MAD for it was: MAssive Death. I can't think of much else to say about it.

  •  I'm glad that... (5+ / 0-)

    In 35 years or, so of playing this dangerous game of fingers on the trigger, that we didn't have a accidental discharge start the big one...

    "Do you realize the responsibility I carry?
    I'm the only person standing between Richard Nixon and the White House."
    ~John F. Kennedy~

    -7.5,-5.8

    by Oldestsonofasailor on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 01:55:47 PM PST

  •  Most of us have no clue how close we came... (7+ / 0-)

    A Cold War Conundrum: The 1983 Soviet War Scare

    Soviet intelligence services went on alert in 1981 to watch for US preparations for launching a surprise nuclear attack against the USSR and its allies. This alert was accompanied by a new Soviet intelligence collection program, known by the acronym RYAN, to monitor indications and provide early warning of US intentions. Two years later a major war scare erupted in the USSR. This study traces the origins and scope of Operation RYAN and its relationship to the war scare.

    Some observers dismissed the alert and the war scare as Soviet disinformation and scare tactics, while others viewed them as reflecting genuine fears. The latter view seems to have been closer to the truth. The KGB in the early 1980s saw the international situation--in Soviet terminology, the "correlation of world forces"--as turning against the USSR and increasing its vulnerability. These developments, along with the new US administration's tough stance toward the USSR, prompted Soviet officials and much of the populace to voice concern over the prospect of a US nuclear attack.

    Reading the whole CIA article is worth the time for those of us that didn't know what was going on behind the Iron Curtain.

    "People who see a contradiction between science and the bible don't really understand either." PvtJarHead Warmest Regards Translator RIP

    by Tinfoil Hat on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 02:00:40 PM PST

  •  Refueling your B52 with a hand-pump? (14+ / 0-)

    They held how many thousands of pounds of fuel, you said? I think if you can hand-pump that much gas in under, like, a month, your arms are sufficiently powerful to simply flap your arms and fly away...

    This is fascinating and therapeutic for the latent anxiety that lingers from my Cold War-era-childhood.

    Visit Lacking All Conviction, your patch of grey on those too-sunny days.

    by eataTREE on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 02:02:44 PM PST

  •  The diarist seems to assume this is all (7+ / 0-)

    behind us, but it's really not. While we have significantly reduced our nuclear weapons, we have not eliminated them.

    The B-52s have largely been replaced by nuclear submarines, but they are still on patrol deep under the ocean...waiting for the order to fire.

    Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

    by OIL GUY on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 02:18:59 PM PST

    •  I haven't forgotten (8+ / 0-)

      We've walked back a bit, but we still have thousands of warheads.

      I'll probably do another one of these on where we are today.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 02:55:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How come (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Oldestsonofasailor, JeffW

        when both sides used to do above ground testing right and left, the fallout didn't cause more devastation?

        •  It's there... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW, PeterHug, Calamity Jean, semiot

          There are nuked out wastelands, the tests however were old lower yield devices in uninhabited areas...

          In 1968, the United States declared Bikini habitable and started bringing a small group of Bikinians back to their homes in the early 1970s as a test. In 1978, however, the islanders were removed again when strontium-90 in their bodies reached dangerous levels after a French team of scientists did additional tests on the island. It was not uncommon for women to experience faulty pregnancies, miscarriages, stillbirths, and damage to their offspring as a result of the nuclear testing on Bikini. The United States provided $150 million as a settlement for damages caused by the nuclear testing program.

          Since the early 1980s, the leaders of the Bikinian community have insisted that, because of what happened in the 1970s with the aborted return to their atoll, they want the entire island of Bikini excavated and the soil removed to a depth of about 15 inches (38 cm). Scientists involved with the Bikinians have stressed that while the excavation method would rid the island of the Caesium-137, the removal of the topsoil would severely damage the environment, turning it into a virtual wasteland of windswept sand. The Council, however, feeling a responsibility toward their people, has repeatedly contended that scraping Bikini is the only way to guarantee safe living conditions on the island for future generations.

          A 1998 International Atomic Energy Agency report found that Bikini is still not safe for habitation, because of dangerous levels of radiation. Bikini Atoll was entered into the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites on 3 August 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/...

          "Do you realize the responsibility I carry?
          I'm the only person standing between Richard Nixon and the White House."
          ~John F. Kennedy~

          -7.5,-5.8

          by Oldestsonofasailor on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 05:37:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Remote areas, not necessarily groundbursts (0+ / 0-)

          Fallout is at its hottest for the first several days.

          Set one off in an inhabited area, and everyone will end up like the crew of the Lucky Dragon.

          Set one off with the aim of destroying a hardened site, and the amount of radioactive dirt kicked up would boggle the mind.

  •  I have that same shirt. (8+ / 0-)

    Got it at a garage sale on base.  It's too small.

    I always carried a flightplan to Tahiti in the pant leg pocket of my flight suit.  We had lots of gas.

    Roughly 1986, I was the copilot in the 13th of 16 aircraft leaving Grand Forks AFB in a MITO takeoff... 12 second intervals.  Eight bombers, eight tankers. Lots of black smoke.  We joined up with a similar force from Minot AFB, plus a half a dozen of their Air Defense F-15s, the "Spittin' Kittens".  We all went past the Pole at roughly 88 degrees North, thumbed our noses at the Evil Empire, turned around, and went home.  Never knew why...seemed like a gigantic game of chicken.

    You guys target individual radar sites...our guys targeted individual classrooms.  "Our target for this mission is Mrs. Pavlovas Kindergarten class in Alapayevsk."  That was the joke, anyway...lots of dark humor.  You had to have dark humor.

    "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

    by Bisbonian on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 02:20:32 PM PST

    •  If you go to the link for the MITO video, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, Bisbonian, KenBee

      there's another video available showing a MITO with 15 B-52H's at Minot AFB in 2009, but the interval appears to be 30 seconds, not the 12-15 we used in the 60's and 70's.  A long time ago I saw a USAF training film that showed 30 B-47s doing a 15 second mito using JATO.  Talk about smoke!

      •  I think they went to 30 seconds right as I got out (0+ / 0-)

        Right at the end of SAC, in 1992.

        "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

        by Bisbonian on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 07:25:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Nothing crazier than being no. 5 in a 6 ship MITO (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Senor Unoball

        Retired Tanker Toad here - had to chime as so many of the comments in Kong's thread could be straight out of my memories.  

        You talk about smoke!  Now imagine being behind 3 Buffs - G-models of course - and in the middle of 3 A-model tankers.  Not only do I have 4 smoke spewing planes in front of me, I need to worry about getting eaten up by the poor sap who's number 6 - and he really can't see.

        30 sec interval from the lead tanker to the trail Buff, and 12 seconds between the tankers.  I can remember it being as tight as 8 seconds once.  ONCE.  So many things could have gone wrong - lost water (performance), lost an engine (perf.), or electrics (and then water - those pumps were electric - so perf.), gear stuck down (perf), late to turn to fan heading, etc.  I'm thinking, but cannot recall a single tanker crash in a MITO.  There was the Mather Buff crash that IIRC was in a MITO.

        The tankers were always close to peacetime limits for weight - 155/wet - and the Buffs just kicked our butts airborne.  I always figured they took off real light on these things.  

        MITOs in the R-model were trivial...

    •  The USN Boomer Crews... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Major Kong, JeffW, semiot

      Had this shirt...

      Photobucket

      "Do you realize the responsibility I carry?
      I'm the only person standing between Richard Nixon and the White House."
      ~John F. Kennedy~

      -7.5,-5.8

      by Oldestsonofasailor on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 05:26:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, Major Kong! (0+ / 0-)

    Great work!

    And I put this in for no apparent reason, other than it's my favorite video game and vaguely related to the topic under discussion.

    Tell me what to write. tellmewhattowrite.com 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

    by rbird on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 02:28:23 PM PST

  •  I always figured the Stormtrooper's helmets (8+ / 0-)

    Were modeled on the PLTZ goggles.

    And we NEVER used the thermal curtains for sun shades....

    "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

    by Bisbonian on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 02:28:48 PM PST

  •  The other thing we've learned recently (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYFM, JeffW, xaxnar, erratic, PeterHug, KenBee, semiot

    is that unlike US nukes, British weapons did not require any special code to be armed:

    To arm the weapons you just open a panel held by two captive screws - like a battery cover on a radio - using a thumbnail or a coin.

    Inside are the arming switch and a series of dials which you can turn with an Allen key to select high yield or low yield, air burst or groundburst and other parameters.

    The Bomb is actually armed by inserting a bicycle lock key into the arming switch and turning it through 90 degrees. There is no code which needs to be entered or dual key system to prevent a rogue individual from arming the Bomb.

  •  The comic book cover (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eataTREE, JeffW

    reminds that the capitol dome was the fourth target on 9/11.

  •  Thanks Kong (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, xaxnar, skod, Calamity Jean, lazybum, semiot

    In the late 70's one of my co-workers shared some data with me.  According to this study, the Soviets had at least 13 warheads with Fort Worth, TX as their final destination.  Surprised me as I considered my new hometown to be a bit of a backwater.  However, with a SAC base and a major aircraft on the west side of town, it sort of made sense.  At the time, LTV and Bell Helicopter were within 30 miles, so even collateral damage would have crippled them.

    Another co worker described the view out his kitchen window.  He had kind of calibrated his eye relative to some power lines.  A normal B-52 takeoff would cross a particular line when viewed from a comfortable seat.  Alert take offs, crossed over a lower line from the same point.  He claimed at one point in the Carter Administration, he seen a large number of B-52's (12-24) taking off, in close sequence, all crossing over the lower line.  He started calculating just exactly how much longer he had to live before the flashes began.

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 03:13:06 PM PST

  •  Twilight World (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee

    The late Poul Anderson wrote a novel called Twilight World back in 1961. In a world after a nuclear exchange, the survivors are attempting to put civilization back together.

    One problem: there's so much residual radiation, the biosphere is collapsing because of the increased rate of mutation among the few members of each species that manages to reproduce at all. The desperate solution is to establish a colony on Mars with the handful of viable human mutants whose changes give them some survival advantages.

    Second problem: the survivors on the other side are planning the same thing - and they intend to be the winners at any cost. The cold war continues on the Red Planet.

    The reviews I've seen of the book aren't all that enthused, because let's face it - it's still a downer even if the good guys win.  There's a number of stories and novels from the time set in post-apocalyse worlds. None of them are a lot of fun.

    Given what was known by the general public at the time, I don't think anyone really appreciated just how bad a "nuclear exchange" would be - and most probably still don't.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 03:39:32 PM PST

  •  Did you ever fly (0+ / 0-)

    a B1?

    I'm just curious if those would have been easier to fly on the crews in these scenarios.

    •  I never did (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, last starfighter

      I know people that flew it.

      They liked the airplane but said it could kill you pretty easily.

      Too much angle of attack and it will pitch up violently, and you won't be able to recover from it.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 06:45:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Major Kong: Did you ever ride in a Bone? (0+ / 0-)

        I understand that, like fighters, those can still fly upside-down. Not so with the BUFF.

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 10:13:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I was 7 during 62' but seems where I lived (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, KenBee

    in the country about 40 miles south of Rolla,Mo people didn't get to worried maybe thinking we wouldn't get hit,but as I grew up some and got to reading somethings I knew even where i lived wasn't really safe from the Fall-out.

  •  By the Dawn's Early Light (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PrahaPartizan

    Since the movie was contemporary with your service experience:

    Does it rank up there at all with Dr. Strangelove and/or Fail Safe?

    Did you ever have a copilot as hot as Rebecca De Mornay?

    "They let 'em vote, smoke, and drive -- even put 'em in pants! So what do you get? A -- a Democrat for President!" ~ Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

    by craiger on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 04:39:24 PM PST

    •  I didn't see Dawn's Early Light, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, KenBee

      but Dr. Strangelove and Fail Safe were both total nonsense.  Both entirely missed the point of positive control and exaggerated the capabilities of the B-52.  The real threats were the ICBM and SLBM.  The manned bomber was just in the picture to complicate the defense and provide a force that could be launched and recalled.

      •  Those movies were made in 1964 (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW, KenBee, PrahaPartizan, semiot, jds1978

        Fail Safe was based on a book written in 1962.

        A B-52 was still pretty advanced in 1962 and ICBMs were  in their infancy.

        The first really modern ICBMs like the Titan II and Minuteman were just becoming operational at that time.

        If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

        by Major Kong on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 06:43:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I like that movie (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee

      They got the nuclear command-control procedures down pat.

      The plot was a bit cheesy in parts, put pretty good overall.

      The B-52 in the movie was a lot roomier and better lit than in real life.

      Women weren't allowed to fly bombers back then, but we had some women in the tanker community that were in Rebecca De Mornay territory.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 06:37:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Did Not Show the PZLT Goggles (0+ / 0-)

        Interestingly, the movie did not show them using the PZLT goggles.  I suspect it's because the plot line depends on the female co-pilot lsing the sight in one eye when she mistakently glances at a close nuclear blast past the edge of a badly arranged blast curtain.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 09:47:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks again for this series (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, KenBee, lazybum, semiot

    There are a lot of idiots still.  

       Last year, House Republicans pressed a measure into the 2013 Defense Authorization Act calling for a new ballistic missile shield for the Eastern Seaboard.

        At the time, House members argued the shield was necessary to deter potential nuclear attacks from North Korea and Iran.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 05:02:26 PM PST

  •  But think of all the cool superpowers we'd all get (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Kong, jds1978

    And atomic vampires and zombies roaming the wastelands, and giant monsters from little insects, birds, lizards etc.! A hell of a lot of fun if you ask me.

    New Arizona State Motto; "Yeah, but it's a dry hate!"

    by Fordmandalay on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 06:02:19 PM PST

  •  I always wondered about the effectiveness (6+ / 0-)

    of the BUFF and any "second strike" capability.  The nuke subs (Boomers) were pretty much assured of being able to get to any position they needed to be for a launch, unless there were considerable Soviet ASW assets deployed against them.  

    While I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of Nuclear Weapons on Naval Vessels, I seem to remember there was a discussion of the ICBMs on the subs being under Air Force control, because they had control of the land-based ICBMs too.  That was long before all the "joint inter-operability" stuff was in vogue; now that "joint commands" are so popular it probably would be a feasible discussion, not to say the Navy would ever support it with any great enthusiasm.  I think that discussion took place during the Rickover era, which automatically made it a non-starter.  AF guys on one of Rickover's boats?  Not bloody likely.  :)

    Carrier assets were also easily repositioned and strike packages were ready to go on "one-way" trips if the bell ever got rung.  I'm pretty sure the Soviet satellite intel could have sent Bears and/or Backfires down on us pretty effectively, and in numbers large enough that the BARCAP probably wouldn't have gotten them all.  

    I was 7 when the Cuban missile crisis was in full swing.  I remember having nightmares about the flash and mushroom cloud over NYC, which was sure to be target, and that gave me the greatest respect (and fear) of/for those weapons in later life as a Naval Aviator.  

    As usual, great diary!  Looking forward to reading more!

    A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism. -Carl Sagan

    by jo fish on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 07:02:36 PM PST

  •  early 80's was driving away east with Vandenburg (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PrahaPartizan

    directly behind 40 miles away in the rear view mirror so to speak, to the west..

    And I used to work there, I was so well aware there were silos that were off limits for some reason, even to AF subcontractors.
      Grumpy bored guys with big guns, etc, altho I roamed the rest of the base at will.

    As I drove away suddenly there were violent bright flashes and booms behind lighting up the car and shaking me with the shocks.

    I seriously stopped breathing and only just avoided the Void.

    Then I saw the wires in the streets arcing around me and realized that the transformers behind me had exploded from some problem across the street at the Edison substation.

    Happy to see the wires arcing around on the ground and across parked cars, the kids riding their bikes over them, yep, and the burning cars the wires had set on fire.

    Much better!

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 09:19:29 PM PST

  •  Potential Decapitation Strikes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jds1978, rodentrancher
    "...The Soviets, at the same time, were afraid we would try to do the same thing to them. Their society was so centrally managed and "top down" that they feared we could take out a few key command and control centers and thus render them incapable of responding. It's not really that far fetched. I'm sure that more than one neoconservative wanted to see us try it..."
    The Carter Administration's decision to deploy the Pershing II medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) to Europe frightened the Soviets more than almost anything else the US had deployed to that point.  The US was only beginnign to deploy MIRVed (multiple independent reentry vehicles) intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and sea-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with the necessary circular error probability (CEP) to destroy individual bunkers and silos.  The Pershing II had terminal guidance which permitted it to reach out to 1500 miles and land on the Soviet command bunkers near Moscow, thereby decapitating the Soviet government and military.  The Soviets knew they couldn't stop them and they didn't dare decentralize the command authority because they were Communists, after all.

    Carter's adminsitration with its decisions to pursue the B2 stealth bomber, the Pershing II, and a wide deployment of the cruise missiles being developed which offered pinpoint targeting almost anywhere in the world did more to end the Soviet Union than anything Reagan's team did, except for spending the US into hock.  Reagan's guys just showed the Soviets that we wree just as crazy as they were, and they knew just how bad that was.

    "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

    by PrahaPartizan on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 09:31:32 PM PST

    •  The Soviets (5+ / 0-)

      never even tried to match our increases in defense spending during the 1980s.

      What mostly brought them down was the glut of cheap oil on the world market in the late 80s and early 90s.

      Oil was their primary export and only source of hard currency.

      Reagan had little or nothing to do with it.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 04:39:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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