Russian NUCLEAR powered cruise missile blows up. Kills 5 scientists and spreads radiation

Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by Doggzilla, Aug 10, 2019.

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  1. Aug 10, 2019 #1

    Doggzilla

    Doggzilla

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  2. Aug 10, 2019 #2

    Vigilant1

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    The US was developing a nuclear-powered cruise missile in the 1960s. A nuclear ramjet is dirt-simple. We abandoned it as ICBMs proved capable of doing the same mission with greater effectiveness and reliability. The US test site for the program remains mildly radioactive.

    Project PLUTO
     
  3. Aug 10, 2019 #3

    Doggzilla

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    You would think they would have learned from our previous experience.

    The whole program has been nothing but embarrassment and failures.
     
  4. Aug 11, 2019 #4

    pictsidhe

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    I thought that one of the major reasons for abandoning project pluto was that the Russians would be compeled to respond with their own version. Since they detonated the first H-bomb, the US no doubt considered them quite capable... The whole idea of a pluto and plutoski arsenal just too unpalatable.
    Sadly, the nuclear proliferation treaties are expiring and both the USA and Russia are now planning to add even more overkill for the planet. Both sides already have enough warheads to annihilate each other.
     
  5. Aug 11, 2019 #5

    Vigilant1

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    That argument is made, but I don't find it convincing. PLUTO is best thought of as a continuation of a long line of cruise missiles (Matador, Mace, Snark, etc), that the US had developed to allow for effective penetration of Soviet airspace for delivery of nuclear weapons. If PLUTO had eventually resulted in a weapon system that was better (more reliable, less costly, less subject to pre-emptive strike, etc) than ICBMs, there's no doubt in my mind we would have pursued it. Our unilateral abandonment of PLUTO would have done nothing to stop the USSR from developing their own nuclear-powered cruise missiles (we didn't even have a nuclear arms limitation construct in place--the first such talks, which would lead to SALT 1, wouldn't start until Nov 1969). ICBMs had simply proven to have higher utility, and the PLUTO program was a casualty of that.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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  6. Aug 11, 2019 #6

    Aerowerx

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    Trivia:

    Q: When was the first cruise missile developed?

    A: WW1! There used to be one, the only one made IIRC, on display at the Wright-Patterson Museum. It had a highly accurate clock and altimeter. Designed to cruise along at a fixed altitude. Then after a predetermined time the wings would fall off and it would drop. Developed too late in the war to be deployed.
     
  7. Aug 11, 2019 #7

    Doggzilla

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    Thats exactly why.

    Pluto was the Airforce's equivalent to having nuclear subs patrol over the ocean. It was meant to patrol indefinitely over open ocean much like subs patrol under it. When Pluto began the Navy had not yet tested the first Polaris and its subs were almost useless. But within 3 years Polaris matured and the Navy suddenly had a fully mature system capable of firing 16 ICBMs while Pluto had not even made a single flight.

    While Pluto was still on the drawing board the US Navy built, tested, and deployed the first subs capable of firing 16 ICBMs. It was a runaway success that took only 3 years, something unimaginable by today's standards.

    Pluto was cancelled, and within 3 years after that the Navy started churning out production subs. If Pluto had continued it would have probably still been in the testing phase. So it just was not very competitive.

    The subs were such a runaway success that Pluto never had a chance. The subs had vastly more firepower, were more difficult to detect, had missiles more difficult to intercept, and for less money.
     
  8. Aug 11, 2019 #8

    Riggerrob

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    The USAF experimented with nuclear-powered bombers during the 1950s and 1960s. They used a nuclear eactor to heat the air inside jet engines. The USAF may even have flown a “cold” reactor, but ultimately decided that they could not carry enough shielding to protect crews. They also feared that a crash would release radio-active contamination.
     
  9. Aug 11, 2019 #9

    TerryM76

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    "Technically sweet" Crazy and innovative and simply horrifying.
     
  10. Aug 11, 2019 #10

    Vigilant1

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    I think I misunderstood your post, or there is a typo, as I'm sure you didn't mean to say the Soviets built the first H-bomb. The US detonated the first thermonuclear device, followed by the Soviets about a year later. (It would have been longer if left to themselves, but they had help from Klaus Fuchs and other US and British citizens).
    Edited to add: I misremembered the Soviet lag--it was about 3 years, not 1 year.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  11. Aug 11, 2019 #11

    Tiger Tim

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    The Kettering Bug! Love that little thing. Instead of a clock or timer, my understanding is it has a mechanism that counted revolutions of a little windmill to determine distance to drop the wings.
     
  12. Aug 11, 2019 #12

    Doggzilla

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    Pic and I must have seen the same documentary, because I was also taught incorrectly that the Soviets were first to the H-bomb. They must have meant air deliverable or something because that is clearly incorrect as you have pointed out.

    And as for dates, you are correct either way. Depending on your definition of H-bomb they produced a crude hybrid one a year after ours, and a "true" one three years later. It just depends on which one you consider the real thing.

    RDS-6 and RDS-37, both of which were extremely inferior to the US H-bombs. About 4% and 10% the yield of our first two weapons.
     
  13. Aug 11, 2019 #13

    Doggzilla

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    Yes, turns out the RDS-37 from 1955 was capable of being delivered with the R-7, and the US did not have a deliverable H-bomb until 1960 with the W-47.

    Thats what they must have been referring to, because the US clearly beat the Soviets to the first tests.
     
  14. Aug 11, 2019 #14

    Vigilant1

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    The first operational thermonuclear weapon was the US TX-16 freefall bomb, operational in 1954. Several other thermonuclear gravity bombs entered service shortly thereafter, most had short service lives. The Mk28 entered service in 1958 and was quite long-lived, variants remained in service through 1991.

    All the above weapons were in operational service before the Soviets had tested their first radiation implosion type thermonuclear device (in Nov 1955).

    The W-47 warhead for the Polaris missile entered service only in 1960.
     
  15. Aug 11, 2019 #15

    Doggzilla

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    Neither of those were deliverable on missiles. The Soviets definitely had the first one on an ICBM by quite some time. Our first one was the W47 in 1960 on Polaris, and our first land based one was the W56 on minuteman in 1962.

    The TX-16 was also a prototype that could only be delivered by a single B-36 out of the entire fleet, which was specially modified. So it was not something that reached production.

    So for H-bombs on ICBMs they beat us by quite a few years. And they still are quite a bit. Their ICBMs are several times larger than ours and carry far more warheads. That probably why their NATO designation is "Satan".
     
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  16. Aug 11, 2019 #16

    thump

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    vac1.png My wife standing in front of one of the reactors for that program.
     
  17. Aug 11, 2019 #17

    Vigilant1

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    We're well outside the domain of HBA, but just to correct the record:
    That's not acccurate. The US had many hundreds of deliverable "H-bombs" before 1960. The first operational thermonuclear gravity bomb was the US TX-16 in 1954. This was before the USSR had even tested a thermonuclear device of any type. See "gravity bombs" below.
    Yes, the Soviets had the first operational ICBM with a thermonuclear warhead (Feb, 1959). The US Atlas ICBM reached IOC 7 months later, in Sept 1959. I guess some people would say 7 months was "quite some time." But the Atlas was not the first missile with a thermonuclear warhead--that distinction belonged to the US Redstone SRBM, which was fielded and operational in 1955, well ahead of any Soviet thermonuclear warhead or bomb.
    It was about 7 months (see above).

    The correct terminology is essential to keeping this straight. There are no "bombs" fitted to missiles--they have warheads (or RVs, if exoatmospheric).

    By the numbers--thermonuclear weapon "firsts":
    - First test of a thermonuclear device: US, Nov 1952, The USSR's first test of a true thermonuclear device (radioactive compression type) was three years later, Nov 1955.
    - First operational thermonuclear gravity bomb: US TX-16 (1954, 5 produced). Followed rapidly by the Mk19/29 weapon (IOC 1955), about 1200 were eventually produced. They were IOC before the Soviets had conducted their first test of a "true" thermonuclear device.
    - First operational thermonuclear missile of any type: US PGM-11 Redstone (1955)
    - First operational thermonuclear SRBM: US Redstone, IOC 1955. (First operational Soviet thermonuclear SRBM was about 10 years later: SS- SCUD (R-17), 1965
    - First operational thermonuclear IRBM: US Thor (PGM-17, IOC in June 1959, in UK basing).
    - First operational thermonuclear ICBM: USSR R-7, IOC approx Feb, 1959. US Atlas: Sep, 1959
    - First operational thermonuclear SLBM: US Polaris (first patrol: Nov 1960). USSR R-13: IOC in 1961
    - First operational MIRV missile: US Minuteman III, IOC in 1970 (this is a step we later regretted, for strategic/stability reasons. Developed largely to counter the Soviet fielding of ABM systems).

    Some of the steps in this timeline were bounded by technology, some by geopolitical factors. From a practical standpoint, due to basing limitations, the Soviets saw limited strategic utility in thermonuclear land-based missiles of ranges less than those of an ICBM. Also, in the very early years of the Cold War, the US could effectively penetrate Soviet airspace with its very capable manned bombers, and the early thermonuclear devices were quite heavy. So, in the US there was >>initially<< less emphasis on missiles, aircraft could do the job with greater accuracy, flexibility (recall or retarget), and even better overall reliability.
    All the above is quite oversimplified, obviously.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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  18. Aug 11, 2019 #18

    Speedboat100

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    She looks very sexyfull....:)
     
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  19. Aug 11, 2019 #19

    Doggzilla

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    As stated before, the TX-16 was not operational and only a single aircraft in the entire fleet could even carry them.

    The Atlas was also “useless for its intended purpose” and did not become fully operational until 1965 when it had already been made obsolete. Nearly every single system proved to be defective.
     
  20. Aug 11, 2019 #20

    Vigilant1

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    It was more operational than any other thermonuclear weapon on earth. But if it doesn't meet your arbitrary requirements, then maybe you'll accept the hundreds of Mk 19's introduced the following year. Stop digging and have some intellectual honesty: It was just incorrect to write:
    The US had well over a thousand "H-bombs" before 1960 that could be delivered reliably anywhere on earth.

    I can't imagine what you are talking about. The Atlas had a "challenging" test program, but the system was fielded and operational in 1959 and was the basis for manned space launch vehicles. The cryogenic fuel/oxidizer it used meant that it couldn't be kept fueled, so it had a slow reaction time, but these were the exact same limitations the Soviet R7 had. Again, please be intellectually honest: If you accept the R7 as an operational ICBM, you can't dismiss the Atlas which had the same basic operational capability.

    I'm done with you on this.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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