This day in US nuclear accidents

Discussion in 'Military' started by mhansen2, Dec 12, 2017.

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    19 July

    1962 – JUPITER missile / Italy

    A JUPITER missile armed with a W-49 warhead was struck by lightning, resulting in deuterium-tritium boosting gas being injected into the warhead pit and activation of thermal batteries in the adaption kit. The missile was returned to operational status after 62 days. The warhead was returned to the AEC’s Clarksville facility for repair.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, p.270.
     
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    20 - 24 July

    No reported incidents.
     
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    25 July

    1962 - THOR missile / Johnston Island, Pacific Ocean

    During a third attempt to conduct a high-altitude thermonuclear explosion, the THOR launch vehicle and its W-49 warhead were deliberately destroyed on the launching pad following engine malfunction. Damage to the pad and contamination of the launch complex were serious enough to delay completion of the nuclear test operation.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, p.271.
     
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    26 July

    1955 – Navy jet / Near Roswell, New Mexico

    On the afternoon of July 26, a Navy jet fighter flying a practice mission developed engine trouble and jettisoned an Operational Suitability Test (OST) bomb approximately 40 miles from Roswell. The bomb, which was not carrying nuclear components, was later recovered.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, p.240
     
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    27 July

    1956 – B-47 / RAF Base Lakenheath, near Cambridge, East Anglia, England ("SAC REFLEX Base")


    A B-47 from Lincoln AFB, Nebraska with no weapons aboard was on a routine training mission making a touch-and-go landing when the aircraft suddenly went out of control and slid off the runway, crashing into a storage igloo containing three MK 6 bombs in storage configuration. Although the B-47 and its fuel burned after impact into the igloo, killing all four crewmen, the nuclear weapons did not burn or detonate. (One SAC bomb disposal officer stated that it was “a miracle” that one MK 6 with exposed detonators sheared off did not explode.)

    There were no contamination or cleanup problems. The damaged weapons and components were returned to the AEC. No capsules of nuclear material were in either the weapons or the storage igloo. The presence of nuclear weapons was officially denied at the time of the accident: personnel on the base were ordered to evacuate the area because there allegedly was live .50-caliber ammunition in the burning plane.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, p.242
     
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    28 July

    1957 – C-124 / Atlantic Ocean

    Two MK 5 weapons without nuclear capsules installed were jettisoned from a C-124 off the east coast of the United States approximately 100 miles southeast of Naval Air Station, Pomona, New Jersey, just outside Delaware Bay east of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and south of Wildwood and Cape May, New Jersey. The aircraft was carrying three weapons and one nuclear capsule; the weapons were in Complete Assembly for Ferry (CAF) condition.

    Nuclear components were not installed in the weapons; power supplies were installed but not connected. The C-124 was enroute from Dover AFB, Delaware, to Europe via the Azores islands when its two left wing engines lost power. Maximum power was applied to the two engines on the right wing; however, level flight could not be maintained. At this point, the crew decided to jettison one weapon at an altitude of 4,500 feet approximately 75 miles off the coast of New Jersey. The second weapon was jettisoned soon afterwards at an altitude of 2,500 feet at a distance of 50 miles from the New Jersey coast.

    No detonation was seen to occur from either weapon, and both bombs were presumed to have been damaged or destroyed on impact with the sea and to have sunk almost instantly. (The ocean varied in depth near the sites where the weapons were jettisoned.)

    The C-124 landed at an airfield in the vicinity of Atlantic City, New Jersey, with the remaining weapon and the nuclear capsule aboard. After a three-month long search, neither the weapons nor any debris were located. By November 1957, the AEC was taking action to issue replacement weapons to the DOD. No public announcement of this incident was made at the time it happened.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, pp.243-244.
     
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    29 July

    No reported incidents.
     
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    30 July

    1986 - PERSHING Ia MRBM / West Germany

    The warhead of the missile was broken off and damaged while the missile was being moved by a crane.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, p.292.
     
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    31 July

    1958 – / GENIE / White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico

    An inert XW-25 warhead was flown aboard an MB-1 GENIE missile which was fired from an aircraft. No explosive or nuclear components were installed in the warhead. The mechanical and electrical components installed had an overall classification of Secret - Restricted Data.

    The estimated warhead impact area was well within the WSMR boundaries and was 15 miles from the nearest road. An organized search was conducted until mid-November 1958 when the warhead was given up for lost.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, pp.251.
     
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    1 - 4 August

    No reported incidents.
     

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