1959 ... Khrushchev pollinates!

... here is Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in what looks to be his visit to America's heartland in 1959. Below is a link to an excellent documentary on the visit from the folks at PBS and 'The American Experience'


... silent and deadly!

... this third submarine is most notable for it's possible use of the Doomsday Kanyon torpedo. A weapon so terrible- I don't even want to talk about it (read more here)

these excellent illustrations are by Hi Sutton who has lots more at his website 


1986 ... B-1B "Lancer"


... study your Civil Defense!

... as we all know - the first guys out of the Shelter always get eaten by Giant Mutant Cockroaches... or Zombies!

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1987 ... greetings from Ron!

1986 ... Soviet Civil Defense!

... more from this endless series of Soviet Civil Defense posters. No way around it; digging slit trenches and then covering them with a layer of earth looks way too much like digging your own grave!

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1950 ... "How to Protect Yourself in an Atomic Attack"

... Grim - that was the mood of Civil Defense advice at the start of the Cold War. Five short years after the end of WW2 and many people felt that an atomic slug-fest with the 'Reds' was inevitable.

Here's a helpful film to prepare us for what is coming in 1951 - in grim black and white narrated grimly by Edward R. Murrow.

1946 ... "the wing will fly!"

... the swirl of controversy and regret about the Flying Wing and it's ill-fate attempt to become America's first true intercontinental bomber will never fade! Plenty of evil doing and dooers by Convair and corrupt politicians. But the long and short of it was that without modern computerized controls the tailess design would have been hell to control at the high altitudes that would be required for the nuclear mission.

90 min docu. tells the whole dramatic tale.


1958 ... cold-war soap opera!

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1953 ... "blowin' the chickens around the barnyard!"

... results of a fun little project of my photo-illustration work. In cooperation with professional model maker Guy Pernetti and diorama artist extraordinaire Michael Paul Smith. LINK

... not that this sort of thing didn't really happen!


... USSR: CD practice!

... this looks like one of those "insert caption here!" contests.


1954 ... a fine pickle!

... I think this is a fictional account; but no doubt inspired by the run-away Castle-Bravo test earlier in 1954 - LINK


1955 ... stuff of nightmares!

... Operation Teapot: Turk shot, 43 kiloton - Nevada testing site.

... many more: LINK

... bring US your Mig!

...Korean War leaflet dropped by America 'behind enemy lines' offering a reward for Communist pilots willing to defect - with their aircraft. 
 (including example of happy Soviet pilot that did)

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1960 ... Bell XF-109


1954 ... a big ol' son 'a bitch!

... the Mk-17 was the first mass-produced American Hydrogen bomb. At over 25 feet in length and weighing 21 tons it could only be carried by the B-36 bomber (shown here).

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... B-52 - sunset - slight bank to starboard

... recent examples of my illustration work.

... you may purchase prints of my work here


... B-1Bs - afterburner climbout!

... some of my recent illustration work. B-1 LINK

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... no big red button - more!

... as the 2nd entry in my dissertation on the control that the President of the United States has over the use of nuclear weapons I am going to defer to a much better authority: Alex Wellerstein and his excellent blog "Nuclear Secrecy". It is a rather prickly topic - given the current political climate - and I find it hard to keep the level of objectivity needed. Alex can explain it much better in a 3 part series starting here


1964 ... the genius of 'Failsafe'

 Important men need dramatic important rooms to make their decisions in. The set for the War Room at the Pentagon is well appointed mid-century corporate - but a little claustrophobic. It lends to the drama of the debate. Is this room in a hardened bunker below the Pentagon building?

William Hansen as Sec. of Defense Swenson listens silently to the debate between the think tank advisor and the Air Force General. I am trying to figure out why the Secretary was portrayed as a 'cripple'. ( We see him enter the conference room late- on the type of steel crutches often used by Polio victims in those times.) Was it a dramatic device of was the actor Hansen actually disabled at that point in his life?

1952 ... World War III comics!

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1962 ... Grennbrier Bunker- W. Virginia

... one of several entrances to the massive bunker built to house members of Congress in the event of nuclear war. Unlike the secret underground lairs of movie super-villains; the landscape of the Cold-War is mostly like this. Dark, cold and very hard. 


#1... no big red button!

The subject of how and who can give permission to use America's Nuclear Weapons is an important, timely and complex topic. I will try to explain some of it in several entries... this is #1.

... the 'system' of unleashing America's nuclear weapons against a foe was set up during the early part of the Cold-War. Thousands of military personnel are involved. Hundreds of bombers, missile sites and submarines would or could be used.

Because of the memory of the catastrophe of Pearl Harbor in WWII and the swift speed of silo and submarine based missiles the system is designed to work quickly and smoothly with a minimum of fuss and bother. The men and women who are in direct charge of using the weapons are relentlessly trained to respond correctly and quickly to a specific set of coded orders. It is hoped they will not think too much about the human consequences of their actions.

The first atomic bombs were used on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. They were in many ways an extension of the massive conventional bombing campaign against Japanese urban areas which had already been underway. 

Contrary to the popular myth - dropping these bombs was not seen as a sure way of 'ending the war'. No one could predict that sort of outcome with any sureness. No one had actually experienced or could comprehend in real terms just how devastating these new weapons would actually turn out to be. It was hoped that the atomic bombs would hasten victory. Plans were drawn-up to use them on up to a dozen cities and even 'soften' up beachheads with them before an anticipated manned invasion.

President Truman approved the use of the 'Little Boy' and 'Fat Man' bombs almost as a matter of routine. More as an okay for expending the end products of an incredibly expensive and extensive government military and scientific project - than as a moral decision.

After the first two bombs were dropped Truman exercised his authority as Commander and Chief to stop further use and suspend already planned further drops on Japanese cities. Reality replaced theory. This was not an ordinary weapon scaled-up. Mankind had found the power of the gods.

1952 ... missile-base on the Moon!

... the idea of a missile base on the moon was crazy and impractical. It's only advantage would be that it would be immune from a sneak-attack. But it sure made for exciting illustrations and magazine articles!

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1963 ... filming 'Dr. Stranglove'

... Slim Pickens as 'Major Kong' (right seat) being filmed in mock-up of a B-52 cockpit. Director Stanley Kubrick can be seen at the extreme right.

1967 ... SAC base

... B-52 Stratofortresses visible parked on hard-stands; ready for quick taxi to the runway and take off.

1963 'A Gathering of Eagles'


1953 .... the V Force! (British)

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1977 ... 'Damnation Alley'

... during the 1970's we were desperate for science-fiction - ANY science-fiction!

1957 ... more dreams of VTOL!


1954 ... join the Navy!

1964 ... Mirage IV: nuclear bomber (France)

... my artwork: The Mach 2.2 'Mirage' IV built by the aerospace company Dassault was the premier weapon system of the early "Force de frappe"  nuclear force of France. The French were the fourth nation to develop nuclear weapons(1960). The Mirage IV originally carried one free-fall fission-bomb of 70 kiloton yield. Later it was out-fitted with a supersonic stand-off missile with a 300 kiloton thermo-nuclear warhead.

Currently France maintains 50 nuclear capable aircraft spread between their airforce and navy. Additionally they have 4 ballistic missile submarines! Each submarine carries 16 nuclear armed missiles. So... do not f---k with the French!

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1957 ... bank vault - 37 kiloton 'Priscilla Shot'

... "Response of Protective Vaults to Blast Loading". The bank vault itself survived virtually unscathed. The still functioning 14 ton steel door was removed after the test. I have been trying to determine what the distance from ground zero was. Damn close is my estimate.

a reader provided info that the distance was 1,150 ft from ground zero (37 kiloton weapon suspended from balloon at 800 feet) 

(1960) ... F-106 Delta Darts

... my artwork:  US supersonic interceptors of the Air Defense Command using nuclear tipped 'Genie' air-to-air missiles to destroy Soviet bombers. At operational altitudes of up to 57,000 ft small atomic weapons (1 kiloton) produce virtually no fallout.

note: when the very large numbers of atomic weapons during the cold War are listed - they are including the stockpiles of numerous  anti-aircraft weapons and tactical nuclear artillery shells.


1981 ... it's called 'satire'

... clever send-up of the "new Sheriff in town" Pres. Ronald Reagan. Obvious reference to one of Reagan's more ridiculous movies: 'Bedtime For Bonzo'.

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1963 ... Blue Steel away!

... as Strategic Air Forces struggled to cope with better and better ground launched guided missiles; the concept of 'stand-off' weapons emerged. The 'Blue Steel" air launched missile was one such solution developed by the British RAF. 

The 'Blue Steel' carried a 'Red Snow' H-bomb. Not to be confused with the 'Yellow Sun' which was the same H-bomb fitted into a gravity bomb casing. I have always thought the British pre-occupation with naming their strategic weapons with some sort of obscure color-code was strange. But they may have felt that American names for weapons like the 'Davey Crockett' or the 'Navajo' were just as eccentric. 


1958 ... Nikita's new toy!

... Nikita Khrushchev gets picked as 'Time's Man of the Year for getting the first satellite into outer-space. Proving that the USSR was not as technologically backward as analysts had wanted to believe. If Khrushchev  had rockets big enough to put satellites in orbit - he had rockets big enough to throw H-bombs at the USA.

Many people talk of how they saw Sputnik passing over in the night sky ( like a bright fast moving star). What they actually saw was not the satellite, which was too small to see, but the final rocket-booster stage which was much larger and accompanied it into orbit. Good thinking Comrade!

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... rare, medium or well done?

... looks to be a nuclear bomb arming-set switch. Possibly used on 'tactical' fighter aircraft. Note the choices of ground- burst or air-burst and the metal flanges acting as a simple 'holy-shit' safety on the selector.

A 'ground-burst' of a nuke from such a small, low-flying aircraft would involve a 'lay-down' of the weapon with a parachute and soft landing. A timer would delay detonation until the aircraft had gotten a safe distance away. Always gets my imagination going: cut to scene of elderly babushka lady cursing and beating with rake on H-bomb that has landed on her prize turnips.


... safe in their bunker-turret-thing!

... another untraceable illustration of a creepy future-war.

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