Friday, January 27, 2012

Let's Get Bombed...!

Actually, we already did...and we did it to ourselves!

That's right! We actually dropped a bomb on ourselves, and it wasn't just any bomb either! This bad boy was a thermonuclear bomb! That's the kind that could make a real big impression on anyone within range! Here is the story behind this...taken from the archives of Now I Know!


The Mark 15 hydrogen bomb, pictured above is a thermonuclear bomb weighing a relatively light 7,600 pounds. It is roughly twelve feet long and three feet in diameter. Like most nuclear weapons, it can cause a great deal of destruction upon its detonation. Unlike most nuclear weapons, we managed to lose one.

On February 5, 1958, a B-47 bomber carrying a Mark 15 took off from Homestead Air Force Base near Florida’s southern tip. The B-47 was on a training run off the coast of Tybee Island, on the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia. But the mock mission went awry, as the bomber collided with an F-86 fighter jet also involved in the exercise. The F-68 was disabled and its pilot immediately ejected and survived. The B-47 was able to remain airborne, but was greatly damaged. Unable to guarantee a safe landing — a critical concern, given the plane’s payload — its pilot, Colonel Howard Richardson, proposed a solution: drop the bomb in the ocean.

And that is exactly what happened. Richardson, with permission from command, dropped the bomb from a distance of about 7,000 feet above sea level while traveling at over 200 miles per hour. The bomb landed in the ocean just off Tybee Island and, per Richardson, did not explode. The B-47 made an emergency landing at Hunter Army Air Field, and no one, miraculously, died. Richardson earned a medal for his cool-under-pressure performance in the skies.

But what ever happened to the bomb? No one knows. The day after the mid-air collision, Air Force and Naval recovery crews took to the seas to recover the jettisoned hydrogen bomb, but after a nine week search, they came back empty handed. Another recovery effort was made in 2001, but it, too, was unsuccessful. More recently, in 2004, another Air Force colonel asserted that he has narrowed down the location to an area roughly the size of a football field, by triangulating off heightened levels of radioactivity in the area. But to date, the bomb still sits somewhere in the ocean, unrecovered.

This may be by design. The Air Force asserts that the bomb is safer there than it would be if jostled, as they assert, the weapon lacks a plutonium trigger, which is requisite to creating an explosion. However, prior testimony from W.J. Howard, an Assistant Secretary of State suggests that this may be incorrect, and that the lost Mark 15 is, in Howard’s words, a “complete bomb.”

Now, doesn't that give you a warm and fuzzy feeling all over? Not only did we have to drop a nuclear bomb just off the coast of Georgia, but no one can find the blessed thing! Even with all the tech toys at the government's disposal, it still remains lost to this day!

I don't know about you, but I don't think I want to be living anywhere around Savannah, Georgia! Call me crazy, but I figure why take the chance, ya know?

Coffee on the patio this morning. Don't worry about the weather, it's cool but dry!

9 comments:

Sixbears said...

One can't but help wonder about the government's inability to find the thing. Perhaps there's a tale not being told?

It does make one wonder what else the government is transporting around our country and how safe they are doing it.

It's actually raining this morning at my dad's in FL, but it's needed. Coffee in the "Florida Room" this morning.

JOJO said...

I don't know about the warm fuzzy thing. I just know I wouldn't want to be on a ship over that thing or in Savannah for that matter.

But I would like to sit on the patio with you and have some coffee.

John said...

Living out here in the Golden Plains, we see/don't see a lot of stuff transported by truck. It would probably scare us if we did know.

30 degrees and 30mph winds here this morning. Coffee at the dining room table for sure. Stepped outside and had whitecaps in the cup.

Billy Bob said...

I've got to wonder about our government, even back on February 5, 1958. What could they possibly had been doing carrying a thermonuclear bomb on a training mission? A 1954 Ford pick'em up truck would have sufficed. Drop it and then not be able to find it for 52 years?

aHunkaHunkaBurningLove said...

Wasn't there a jet that crashed about 10 years ago in Colorado I think. They said the pilot went crazy during the flight and went awall. I think it had either 2 nuclear warheads or 2 very sofisticated misles on it. They found the wreckage of the plane, up in the mountains, after a long search but they never found the weapons.

Dizzy-Dick said...

The ocean is a very big place and Davy Jones usually keeps what goes into his locker.

Bob from Athens said...

Having worked on nuclear weapons during my years in the Air Force, I can understand why thie bomb has not accidently gone off. It takes a lot of commands given in the correct sequence to set off one of those things, almost impossible to accidently set one off. However it is puzzling why they have not retrieved it, maybe it broke apart when it hit the water and scattered out over a large area.

TROUBLEnTX said...

Does anyone ever believe anything the gov tells us?

Anonymous said...

Sad the post didn't mention the navigator. I'm kidding ... he was my great uncle, Leland Woolard. Both my great uncle (who passed away in 1986) and the pilot, Col Richardson, confirmed that the bomb was indeed a REAL Mk-15, but WITHOUT the nuclear plug installed. Why carry a nuclear plug on a training flight? The bomb did carry 400 lbs of conventional explosives. In fact, there were no nuclear plugs stored at Homestead AFB at the time from where this mission originated. The non-nuclear Mk-15 represents a hazard to anyone jostling it around, just like any other unexploded ordinance... so don't go kickin it. But it is IMPOSSIBLE to go nuclear. All rumors of leaking plutonium are either patently false or the data is from some other source that requires further scrutiny. Now some of you don't trust the govt so I should warn you I'm a former USAF Major and physicist - but what I learned of the story came from the pilot himself. -- Aim High!