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Science & Technology

Cold War nuclear mine was filled with chickens

By T.K. Randall
January 2, 2019 · Comment icon 5 comments



Chickens are the last thing you'd expect to find inside a nuke. Image Credit: US Department of Energy
Back in the 1950s, scientists in the UK developed a nuclear mine that required live chickens to work properly.
The Cold War was responsible for bringing about a whole host of terrifying new nuclear weapon designs, however one in paricular was so bizarre that it's hard to believe that it was a real idea.

Known as Operation Blue Peacock, the project had aimed to place a nuclear landmine along the border with Soviet Russia to prevent a large-scale land invasion from taking place.

Capable of being triggered at a moment's notice, the mine would have proven particularly devastating, however there was a major catch that made it very difficult to use.

The problem was that because the mine was to be buried under the ground, it was very likely that the trigger mechanism would become so cold that it would no longer function.
To get around this issue, scientists came up with the rather bizarre idea to place a number of live chickens inside the bomb so that their body heat could keep the trigger from freezing up.

The birds were to be given enough seed to keep them alive and to stop them pecking at the wiring.

Unsurprisingly however, the idea did not go down too well. Not only was the use of chickens deemed to be an unreliable way of keeping the trigger working, but burying a nuclear mine in an allied nation was deemed unacceptable, especially given the potential for significant levels of fallout.

By 1958, the idea had been scrapped entirely.

Source: Wearethemighty.com | Comments (5)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by RoofGardener 4 years ago
What a preposterous concept ! 
Comment icon #2 Posted by Nnicolette 4 years ago
So it was filled with chickens or there was the idea of filling it with chickens? I'm seeing some conflicting wording used to make a random old thought into news.
Comment icon #3 Posted by A rather obscure Bassoon 4 years ago
A bit Dads Army lol...
Comment icon #4 Posted by Aardvark-DK 4 years ago
I read the headline, and thought...Nuclear Chicken ? Sounds like an Early C64 game... Then the article really made me laugh....where they eating weed cakes in the 50s ?
Comment icon #5 Posted by Troublehalf 4 years ago
This has been known for ages. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3588465.stm This article is from 2004 as one example, probably known even before that but I'm not going to go digging. Pretty sure it's been mentioned on TV shows as well. This isn't an attack on the matter but simply that the website seems to have been oblivious to this for 14 years at least.


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