This is the lead capsule for the four man crew which flew the aircraft and ran the reactor tests. The windscreen was 10 inch thick leaded glass.

The dream was that an Atomic Powered airplane could fly - forever. Or at least for a very long time and a very long distance without having to worry about the pesky little problem of thousands of gallons of fuel. Your bombers and their atomic payloads could be on constant patrols near Russia and China ready to respond to an attack order.
A nuclear reactor will do it's "reactor" thing with a small amount of uranium for a long, long time.
The terrific heat of the reactor could be used to directly superheat air in the engines resulting in the same thrust action as burning jet fuel.
There were just three small problems. First was the most efficient system left a contrail of radioactivity behind the aircraft. Second was the tremendous weight of the shielding to protect the crew from the radioactivity of the working reactor. Thirdly was how messy it would be if one of these airplanes crashed.
None of these problems were even close to being solved after a lot of money and time.
In air refueling worked better and the Air Force no longer had to look for bomber crews who didn't mind becoming sterile.

No comments: