... no amount of hyperbole can overstate what a drastic 'game-changer' the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) made in the Cold War and the arms race. Delivering nuclear weapons went from manned bombers flying and fighting there way to a target over many hours - to an unstoppable sure-thing in 30 minutes!
... there are historians who would argue that making Atomic War almost impossible to defend against helped to 'stabilize' everything and make the world safer. The irony of "Mutual Assured Destruction".
... this is a cutaway of the blunt-nosed MK2-3 re-entry vehicle (seen on the Atlas photo above) which was the first successful package for pushing the H-bomb 'payload' thru it's fiery re-entry to the target.
... this undated document (late 1950's?) discusses the advantages of using nuclear warhead armed air-to-air missiles to destroy attacking Soviet bombers. As it points out, what at first seems like a ironic or even idiotic idea, makes a lot of sense when you consider that one bomber with one large H-bomb can kill millions of people. In other words 'throw everything you've got at them'! The scientific reality is that small atomic weapons used at high altitude generate no fallout because they do not suck up surface soil or water to irradiate.
There is an uncomfortable, unspoken question here - if you are a pilot of a jet fighter defending against the mentioned bombers - and your arsenal of weapons miss or fail - with millions of lives at stake- what would you do next?
... here is an entertaining. and rather silly, film of a group of Air Force personnel demonstrating that you can stand under a 2-kiloton atomic blast at an altitude of 2 miles and not get your hair mussed! (1957)
... three pages from the book "Atomic Attack: How to Survive". It is important to keep in mind the military and historical context. 1950 is only five years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and only one year since the Soviets have tested their first atomic bomb. At this point Russian nuclear weapons are in the 20 kiloton range ( the same size as the Hiroshima "Fat-Man" bomb). Much of the Civil Defense instructions concentrate on avoiding the type of injuries that occurred in Japan. Atomic weapons are not magical and most of the casualties were of the same types suffered in conventional bombing.
The Cold War is still in it's very early phases and much of the technology and strategy we take for granted were not in place yet. The irony is that many feared a surprise attack by Russia more during this period; than later when bombs and stockpiles were much larger and "Mutual Assured Destruction" wad a well known factor of deterrence. Stalin ruled the Soviet juggernaut and a common theory was that Russia would strike as soon as they were capable!
... Joseph Stalin, as dictator of the USSR from the 1930's to 1952, presented an iron facade of brutal repression . His successor, Nikita Khrushchev, showed himself to be a more accessible, even jovial head of state. Yet many saw this more human face of Communism as a front covering an aggressive and dangerous desire for world domination.