1962 ... Dynamc Soaring (Dyna-Soar) USAF spaceship!



Dyna-Soar

... during the Cold War of the 1950's and 60's if you weren't developing something that stretched technology, was very expensive and could throw Nukes at the Russkies; you didn't get any money!

'Dyna-Soar' was also born at a time even before Project Mercury when the US assumed it's technological superiority over the USSR would allow a more gradual development of the manned- space program. Changing over to a 'Space-Race', beat the Soviets to the Moon, crash-program meant the 'man in a can' approach of space 'capsules'.


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1967 ... last chance!


... here we see a Sprint anti-missile-missile [ABM] being loaded into a silo launcher for a test at White Sands, NM. Sprint was the third phase, low level, interceptor of the 'Safeguard' system. If incoming warheads made it past the other missiles designed for outer-space or high altitude interception, Sprint would go screaming out and zap them with an enhanced radiation small nuke at lower altitudes. How low? From around 20 miles down to the last mile. Wow- better make sure you've got your Ray-bans on!

This is truly an "Oh-shit!" defense system. This cocaine snorter went from a standing start to 7,600 mph in just 5 seconds! In this video you can clearly see the second stage as it becomes white hot from atmospheric friction.


... sort of like it won the race and is in the next county before your big brother's GTO has even moved off the starting line!



... atomic test - By Bob Peak


... it looks as if Frank wants a more up-close and personal experience of this imminent 'shot' at the Nevada test-site. maybe he went through one too many of those early Army LSD research projects. Whatever the back story of this illustration by one of my favorite artists, it looks like this DOE photo was inspiration.



1957 - 1963 ... Project: Dyna-soar


... there's a lot to be said about the Boeing X-30 and the Air Force's desire to have it's own winged, reusable manned 'space-plane'. The first of which- don't name your project after a common term for obsolescence!  The "Dynamic Soaring" project reflected the early period of space exploration when men could still do a lot of things that computers and automation could not. In some ways it was the off-spring of the X-15 project in that it was a very flyable, maneuverable winged space craft that would do a controlled reentry from orbit and land like a glider. All the why's of needing to put fighter-jocks in space is still a matter of speculation. But after the 1963 treaties prohibiting Nukes In Space took all the real fun out of the idea.

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1952 ... "destruction"


... this is a painting by famous science artist Chesley Bonestell of what is supposed to be a Hydrogen Bomb air-burst over New York City. Early H-bombs were all pretty high yield and so this seems, ironically, a little conservative. 

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American Experience - Race for the Super Bomb





1960 ... "all aboard!" ICBM's


... the USAF's desire to have it's ICBM force invulnerable by making it 'mobile' is a dream that has taken several fantasies. Shuttling atomic missiles around the country on special trains has been proposed at least twice. Here we see a nifty Minuteman train-table set up in a Boeing hangar for the benefit of the press and VIP's. Twenty six years later a similar plan was proposed for the Peacekeeper missile.


1960 ... model train arms-race!




... American toy manufacturers were never less than one-step behind the most advanced Pentagon research projects!


1953 ... bulls-eye on D.C.!


... it's 1953 and the Russkies have the H-Bomb too. Time to redraw all the maps of annihilation!


... note: 5 million tons of TNT = 5 Megatons.





1958 ... Gahan Wilson


... hard for us today in the 21st century to fully conceive of what a leap the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile represented. Unstoppable. Minutes instead of hours to target.  

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1972 ... ABM system construction- North Dakota


... man- that is a lot of ribar that's going into reinforced-concrete construction. You's think they expected it to survive... errr ... an Atomic Bomb.





... Chinese Atomic Bomb


... looks like your basic 'Fat-Man' implosion- fission weapon.


1964 ... "Failsafe"


... "Fail Safe" Directed by Sidney Lument based on the 1962 novel by Eugen Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, exists as the bookend opposite to Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove". Both are masterpieces. Both deal with the subject of accidental nuclear war. "Fail Safe" is not a comedy.

Because of lawsuits and politics "FS" was released after "DS". For that reason, and the fact that "FS" is very disturbing and has an ending which is beyond depressing, it has never recieved the attention it deserves. 


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1952 ... the bombers get through!


... meanwhile: after the evil traitor at the Air Force headquarters has sent our jet-fighters in the wrong direction; the Soviet bombers get through to New York ... with cataclysmic results!

... this looks like a lot more destruction than to be expected by a single 20 kiloton bomb such as the Soviets were fielding in 1952... but it is a comic book. All the better to give the baby-boomers decades of nightmares!




... color me radioactive!

... the nuclear weapons industry and the AEC get a special award for irony; after producing a children's coloring book to explain the wonderful world of atomic bombs!




1955 ... the alarming "Thunderscreech"


... putting a propeller on a jet-fighter isn't quite as stupid as it looks; but almost! Early jets were copious drinkers of JP-4 and it was thought that a combination of a Turbo-Prop and a Jet-Turbine might be a solution. But the Republic XF-84H, like many hybrids, was a design that incorporated the worst of both.

... another bizarre drawback was the excessive noise caused by the supersonic-propellers.

"Unlike standard propellers that turn at subsonic speeds, the outer 24–30 inches of the blades on the XF-84H's propeller traveled faster than the speed of sound even at idle thrust, producing a continuous visible sonic boom that radiated laterally from the propellers for hundreds of yards. The shock wave was actually powerful enough to knock a man down; an unfortunate crew chief who was inside a nearby C-47 was severely incapacitated during a 30-minute ground run. Coupled with the already considerable noise from the subsonic aspect of the propeller and the dual turbines, the aircraft was notorious for inducing severe nausea and headaches among ground crews. In one report, a Republic engineer suffered a seizure after close range
exposure to the shock waves emanating from a powered-up XF-84H."  -wiki


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