The nukes were dropped by accident over North Carolina. Image Credit: US Air Force
A newly declassified document has revealed that the US came very close to a major nuclear disaster.
Two hydrogen bombs were being carried by a B-52 bomber in 1961 when it went in to an uncontrolled spin over the state of North Carolina, dropping both bombs which proceeded to plummet towards the ground.
One of the two bombs landed without incident, but the second became active after interpreting its motion as a sign that it had been dropped as part of a live bombing operation. The device went through all of its arming mechanisms except for one and would have detonated if it hadn't been for a single low-voltage switch.
While the disaster itself has been officially acknowledged, this is the first time information has been released detailing how close the bomb was to exploding over American soil. Over 260 times more powerful than the bombs that were dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, if it had gone off the resulting detonation would have been truly disastrous.
"One simple dynamo-technology low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe," wrote US government scientist Parker Jones. "It would have been bad news in spades."
Source: BBC News | Comments (41)