1951 ... just fits!

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1955 ... the future is Nuclear!

... ooo - shiny! Model of a nuclear power plant!

... time to put up a Link to 'Our Friend the Atom' from Disney!


1957 ... Admiral Rickover descending!

... Admiral Hyman Rickover, father of the Nuclear Navy, teeters inside the reactor vessel for the 'USS Nautilus' during a LIFE photo-op.


1950's ... giant steel chamber for testing USN reactors!

... damn- that is big! If anyone has anymore info on this please leave it in comments.


... B-52's!

... my illustration work.

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1947 ... Flying wing!

... my illustration work: Northrop YB-35 setting up for emergency landing at Chicago.


... a Bear's portrait!

... my illustration work: Tu-95 'Bear'


1955 ... extra nukes!

... my illustration work - C-124 bringing in extra H-bombs to reload the B-36's at Thule Air Force Base, Greenland.

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1963 ... swabbies load nukes!


... ooo - scary!

... made to snap on over a bomber crew's exisiting helmet and visor this is a system for preventing flash blindness. From the early days of the Strategic Air Command it was anticipated that pilots flying in a nuclear combat arena would be at risk of being temporarily blinded by the intense light of nuclear detonations. Both weapons exploding on targets as well as nuclear tipped SAMs and air-to-air missiles were a hazard. A common early practice was to have the aircrew wear an eye-patch so they had one protected eye in reserve. Pull down shades were a low tech solution which left the crew reliant on instrument flying. The pictured helmet was developed in the 1980's. When sensors detected a sudden rise in ambient light levels the coated lenses would electronically be rendered opaque for several seconds. 

... my photo-illus work (matters of milliseconds)

... now that I am doing illustration work for the Aerospace Industry I keep thinking that my 'expertise' on nuclear weapons will come in handy. But these days they mostly want Sesame Street warm and fuzzy - instead of spine tingling terror. Oh well.


... zooooom!

... all from the excellent Flickr collection of Pcarsola LINK

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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.