... for 30 years there was a huge underground bunker built to protect the members of Congress and the Senate. It was secretly located under the Greenbrier Hotel, a posh resort in the mountains of W. Virgina. If nuclear war was imminent, and you were a Congressman or Senator, an FBI agent would bring you a sealed envelope with this cryptic note inside.
... as weapons of mass-destruction go; you can't get much better looking than the British strategic nuclear bomber the Avro "Vulcan". Personally, I relish the early days, before those nasty, high altitude anti-aircraft missiles, when bombers still wore their high-altitude 'anti-flash' white livery. these images are screen-caps from the video below [which accounts for their unfortunate poor quality].
... some fun diagrams from the wonderful folks at "Atomic Skys". One of the big and crazy ideas of the Cold War - Project Iceworm wanted to hide thousands of men and hundreds of missiles under the ice of Greenland. Talk about an ultimate snow fort! But before the engineers got beyond a large test base phase, they found out that the ice sheet of Greenland moves and meanders around; making long term buried installations impossible.
... the map shows the huge area the network of tunnels and caverns would have covered and the diagram seems to show an anti-aircraft missile battery.
... below is a documentary, from the time, about the pilot project: "Camp Century"
... follow the LINK to the Civil Defense Museum's multiple pages of US Army Corps of Engineers survey (with photos) of top-notch cold-war civil defense shelters! Be sure not to miss the Nebraska dairy cow shelter (hey- cows are people too!)
all images- Right click- open in New Window or Tab = super colossal size!
... there was never a shortage of bizarre and frightening atomic weapon system proposals during the Cold War. One of the scariest (that has recently come to light) was this late 1950's proposal for a Supersonic-Low-Altitude-Missile (SLAM) powered by an atomic ramjet! One of it's several code-names was CROWBAR!
Before rocket technology had become the reliable backbone of silo and submarine based ICBM's various jet-powered, unmanned, "robot bombs" were either proposed or actually deployed. (see: SNARK and REGULUS). These early "cruise-missiles" relied on vacuum-tube technology, had limited range, low speed and during tests had an alarming tendency to wonder off on sight-seeing excursions of their own!
1957 was a time of big dreams for powering aircraft with atomic reactors. They actually built and tested some of these 'small" reactors turned into ram-jets. An atomic propulsion system of this type would be very powerful. It could propel the above pictured design at Mach 3 speeds (2,000mph) - even at treetop level. It would be invulnerable and unstoppable by the air defenses of the time. It consumed and carried no conventional fuel and used the incredible heat of it's reactor to instantly expand oncoming air for thrust-propulsion. A 'ram-jet' functions much like it sounds; once it's brought up to working speed by auxiliary jets or rockets [#31], it simply RAMS air into a compressed space where it is ignited with fuel (or in this case pushed through a white hot reactor core [#35, #39] ).
Because it was unmanned, there was no need for the huge weight of radiation shielding normally associated with an atomic reactor.Moreover- the prodigious amount of unshielded radiation would probably kill anyone below it's low flight-path and poison the surrounding terrain. Some engineers speculated that, as it screamed above the Russian treetops, the Mach 3 shockwave [by itself] would be lethal. The fuselage would have space for 12 or more hydrogen bombs [#19] . These would pop-out for detonation as the target whizzed by. In true Dr. Stranglove style, even after the bomb-load had been exhausted, the missile could zip back and forth over enemy territory for days or weeks- zorching everyone and everything below. Because of the unlimited range of such an atomic powered aircraft they could be be pre-positioned just outside of the airspace of the USSR like sharks on an endless prowl.
Thankfully this nightmare weapon system never got far beyond the proof of theory engine tests. Full-scale testing of such a monster would have been, to say the least, a daunting task. I think it also fell right into the category of "fuckin-nuts!". This was an area of just plain mean and nasty weapons that were "destabilizing" to the Arms Race. In deterrence you want a balance of terror - and not a bunch of Commissars running up and down the corridors of the Kremlin bug-eyed and frothing at the mouth! (source for diagram)
... as an interesting side-note. In 1958 a b-grade science-fiction movie was released with an all too familiar sounding plot ... could this have been a mere coincidence- hmmm? Get out the pop-corn- the trailer is followed by the whole thing!
... before leader of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro, became vilified for allying with the USSR: he was seen as a sort of liberating folk-hero. Here he is on his 1959 visit to the US surrounded by children imitating his famous scruffy beard.
... this is information relating to the 1950's microwave radio system for keeping the President, Pentagon and various hardened bunkers spread beyond Washington DC all yakking away during a nuclear attack. They all have code-names starting with 'C' for communication.
Microwave transmissions are 'line-of-sight'. Each receiver/ transmitter is on a high tower and can be seen by the next tower on the horizon. They are a more secure and highly capable means of sending information. As a child I remember occasionally seeing commercially operated microwave towers from the highway. They seemed impressive and ominous machines of doomsday.
all images- Right click- open in New Window or Tab = super colossal size!
... part of a recent discovery of official Department of Defense illustrations of various Soviet-Bloc threats. So- this Delta sub slavoing it's ICBM's would be hanging on a wall somewhere in the Pentagon so that "Cap" Weinberger could wave a finger at it and scare everyone into a couple more billion dollars of defense budget?
- One forty-five
- Two boxes of ammunition
- Four days' concentrated emergency rations
- One drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine,
vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills
- One miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible
- One hundred dollars in rubles
- One hundred dollars in gold
- Nine packs of chewing gum
- One issue of prophylactics
- Three lipsticks
- Three pair of nylon stockings.
MYTH: it's better to die than survive World War III.
FACT: first off- tell that to your children, or significant other. You may nobly start hiking toward what you think is ground-zero; but what about others who you could help or who depend on you? Today, it's very easy for us to adopt a cynical "how could they be so naive" attitude toward the people that actually had to face and plan for survival. But in a real life and death situation do we really think we would be so calm and philosophical?
MYTH: Nuclear War means a quick, vaporized death.
FACT: If you are betting on being one of the "lucky ones" who gets instantly zorched the odds are heavily stacked against you. The vast majority of casualties are going to suffer the same sort of run-of-the-mill horrors as with a conventional explosions. Burned up, torn up, squished, suffocated etc. You may linger for hours or days. Or, hey you're a lucky guy and survive- maimed and crippled. People survived at virtually the epicenter of Hiroshima; simple because they were in a basement.
MYTH: Fallout will make the world uninhabitable forever.
FACT: The sort of radioactive fallout produced by nuclear weapons degrades and loses it's ability to kill or sicken rather quickly. After 24 hours levels will drop to a fraction of what they were. In 2 weeks radiation levels over most of the contaminated areas will be back to normal.
... with the above facts in mind we look at the first pages of a grim pamphlet which would have become incredibly relevant to a large part of the population when WW3 started unfolding. Yes- the idea of living under your car for 14 days seems almost as bad as dying; but depending on fallout realities, after the first 3 or 4 days you may have been able to exit for short periods or even seek better more livable shelter. Hell, after the fifth day just crawl out, shovel the dirt out of the Ford, put the seats back in and drive to someplace with less radiation.
... I see these articles on the Internet about former missile silos being converted into Survivalist condominiums and I wonder how many folks actually ante-up the one million plus price tag. Then, after the rest of the human race is wiped out, you'd maybe start to worry just what sort of characters your neighbors really are!