1959 ... all hell breaks loose!

... from the March 9, 1959 issue of LIFE magazine. Those magazine illustrators and editors really knew how to get your attention!

Titan Launch Checklist - page (2)

Page two, item #6- launch officers turn keys and hold- the rest is automatic.

"... what does Bert the Turtle do?"

In defense of 'Duck and Cover'. It's a lot of fun to watch Bert the Turtle and get a good laugh. But studies of atomic blast effects showed that the simple actions portrayed in the film would in fact save many thousands from death or injury. There is a myth that an atomic weapon will simply vaporize people. Actually the great percentage of injuries would result from heat flash burns and falling, flying debris.
In the early 1950's, when 'Duck and Cover' was made and shown to millions of elementary school children, two factors were in play that would later change in the 1960's.

First there was the chance of an 'attack without warning'. Radar defenses were not as complete and reliable as they would later become. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 Americans were obsessed with the possibility of 'sneak attack'. Much of the instruction in "Duck and Cover" deals with how to protect yourself in everyday surrondings when there is little or no time to go to a bomb shelter. The inhabitants of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were 'surprised' by the atomic bombings and had not sought shelter or protected themselves. Their terrible experience was a large influence over early civil defense thinking.

Secondly although early atomic bombs in the 20 to 50 kiloton range were terrible weapons they did not produce anywhere near the radioactive fallout levels of the Hydrogen Bombs to come. These 'Hiroshima sized' bombs were what the Soviets were fielding when "Duck And Cover" was produced.

The main focus of early 50's civil defense was to protect yourself from the blast effects. Even with the widespread titanic effect of the later H-Bomb; most of the people in the affected blast area would not experience much 'fallout' until some time after the initial blast. If you reacted very quickly at the first bright flash of detonation, unless you were very close to 'ground zero', there was time to crouch and shield yourself. If you survived the blast then there was probably time to get to a fallout shelter.

Most grade schools, including mine, had large windows and big overhanging light fixtures.
Flying glass and falling debris was exactly the sort of thing that an old style oak and iron school desk could protect you from. Flash burns from the intense light of the blast only affect exposed areas; being under your desk kept you protected in shadow.

Once again- all of this was based on the actual experience and the type of weapons used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki just five years before.

So next time you're about to thumb your nose at your foolish ancestors and their stupid government- remember you don't live under the daily fear and threat of Atomic War. Efforts like 'Duck and Cover' were an attempt to do something in the face of a horrible danger. Those big glass windows facing those bright blue skies in those classrooms made the terror all the more apparent.
so now let's all get ready to learn to be turtles!

here's some additional info on Bert and the gang
As to sophistication of the CG effects and 'method acting' of 'Duck and Cover' it was for small children... and I think the song is kind of catchy!

...another shot of a French 'shot'

Titan Missile- underground complex (1962)

Titan Missle- silo (1962)

Titan 1 - Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

SAC B-52 circa 1964

... the B-52 Stratofortress is towed into position on it's "ready-pad".From this isolated point near the runway, it will be loaded with nuclear weapons and made ready to start take-off procedures at a moments notice. The bomber was guarded round the clock by special teams of heavily armed guards.

...created in 1946 the Strategic Air Command was the Air Force's nuclear attack force. Incredible training and zillions of dollars made our bombers and missiles a credible deterent and helped to prevent WW3.
"Hey, anybody seen Major Kong?!"www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5qqfsQGYus

President Johnson tours SAC headquarters, Offut AFB. Omaha, Nebraska. [c.1964]

1955 ... our story begins with the End!

This is Rodger Corman's fourth masterpiece of cinema art. (sarcasm intended)
A handful of survivors find refuge at a scientists ranch, which was purposely built in a 'radiation resistant area'. It's the usual party of bad guys, good guys, a horny toad prospector, a stripper- you know the group.
One hapless member strays too far, get's radiation poisoning and mutates into a three eyed monster in search of blood! How typical and one sided! We never hear about the guys who mutate into a cute furry bunny or the best peperoni pizza you've ever had.
We've got a special treat today boys and girls- the entire movie from Mister YouTube!

Mk- 17 on lift truck (1954)

The biggest US bomb ever built and deployed, the Mk-17 was a real 'crowd pleaser' with a 15 megaton yield.
The weapon weighed 20 tons and required all sorts of special equipment to move it around and get it up into aircraft bomb bays.
Strange to see it in such a grimey garage like setting. Since this is from the mid 50's,
Hollywood hadn't had a chance to show them what real doomsday facilities should look like.
200 were built and have long since been retired.

1956- Dakota shot

Most atomic tests were conducted in daylight hours. The very dark skies are a result of the significant 'under exposure' needed to get detail in the fireball. If you were watching this normally- well, you wouldn't see anything after that.
(yield- 1 megaton)

B-36 manufacture

Too big for the factory; the 'Peacekeeper' had to be built with the nose jacked-up so the tail, at the other end, would clear the ceiling. (1950)

Edward Teller- father of the Hydrogen bomb ( also known as 'The Super")


Robert Oppenheimer- father of the Atomic Bomb (first one built and tested simply known as 'the gadget')
"Aw snap! There goes my lunch appointment!"


...everyone is so calm! If it had been a 'Popular Mechanics' cover, the cop on the bridge would be shooting a couple of hysterical motorists

Message from the President- September 7, 1961 LIFE

As Hydrogen-Bombs, a thousand times more powerful than Atomic-bombs, became the threat; hiding in a corner of the basement for a couple of days was no longer an option. Instead of a bomb, or blast shelter, a true 'Fallout Shelter' which provided shielding against radiation was needed. It was estimated two weeks minimum before fallout 'decayed' to safe levels.
The Kennedy administration began an all-out campaign to convince suburbanites to built their own private fallout shelters. Often presented as a do-it-yourself addition to the family homestead.
Above we see the logical exstension of the corner of the basement approach with masonry walls and ceiling thick enough to stop most fallout danger.
Good thing they've got a ping pong table so that in a week the "rads" will be low enough for a quick game outside the shelter. Are those 5 gal. cans of water? Maybe it's gasoline for burning the neighbors bodies so they don't come back as atomic-zombies. If only the neighbors had listened and built a nice cozy shelter like this!"

... Sept. 7, 1961 Life magazine.

Dad scans the skies for Russian bombers. Cold War Dads did that a lot.
Those who built "backyard" shelters buried or mounded with earth quickly discovered they were very efficent at collecting mold, mildew and ground water. Covered pipes worked well during a few hours of the London Blitz but a two week stay could be impossible.

... Sept. 7, 1961 Life magazine.

Huh-oh. little Jimmy hears a strange scratching at the outer door. Wish Dad had followed the minister's advice and put a shotgun in the shelter. Maybe this shovel will be enough to deal with old Mrs. Betz.-------------------------------------------------------
link to "The Shelter" from 1961 Twilight Zonehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ei7Gr-0uNU&featu
Rod Serling Prologue-"What you are about to watch is a nightmare. It is not meant to be prophetic, it need not happen, it's the fervent and urgent prayer of all men of good will that it shall never happen. But in this place, in this moment, it does happen. This is the Twilight Zone."

... more mutations!

Sedan shot- Project Plowshare

Ol' Eddie Teller was a big proponent of the "peaceful use of nuclear weapons". Yes sir, cheapest way to move millions of tons of earth in a millisecond. Proposed was the building of canals, harbors and... well anything else you need a really big hole for.
But the "clean" atomic weapons necessary never came to fruition. They were not very powerful and conversely, very expensive. Regular bombs could make a big hole if they were buried, like this 330 ft. deep 1,100 ft. wide crater made by a 104 kiloton device in 1962. But this big ol' hole is very radioactive and spread a whole hell of a lot of fallout dust all over the nice neighbors- in 20 states.
So it works out that that Edward Teller's really big holes had to be really, really far away from anywhere they would do anyone any good.
here comes the kid with the projector-
whoa! too cool! a virtual 360 site of the crater!
for all you kids who like to fly around on google earth

the third leg of the TRIAD

U.S.S. Connecticut, nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine, breaks ice somewhere at the polar ice cap. Note: raise periscopes and antenna masts for dramatic photographic effect AFTER breaking through ice!
Nice illustration: in real photos atomic submarines never have the cool red and blue lighting we see in "Hunt for Red October".

Of the 744 B-52s built just 76 remain on active duty. This old Stratofortress is being rebuilt for display at the Goletta Air and Space Museum http://www.air-and-space.com/

Brooding monster of the apocalypse. Boeing B-52H. Photo by: Felipe Dutra

JFK - October 1962- Cuban Missle Crisis

1960- Interior of Boeing 707 -first jet powered Presidential aircraft- call sign- Air Force One. In the Jetage in the Nuclear Age this sleek 707 with it's white, blue and silver livery came to symbolize the potency of the position of the
President of the United States of America. In our imaginations it was here, high in the stratosphere, that the fateful decisions of a "full retaliatory strike" would be made.

Mk- 17 Hydrogen bomb 1954- 1957

ooooooo very big bomb! First "practical" weaponized hydrogen device in US stockpile. About 305 built. First deployed under "emergency" status ; no parachute to retard the fall and allow the delivery aircraft to escape the blast zone. WHAT! SAC soon fixed the problem of vaporizing it's bomber crews by attaching a 64 ft. parachute to the MK-17. The B-36 was the only aircraft big enough to carry this 21 ton 28 foot long monster. One was accidentally dropped right thru the bomb bay doors. Ooops! Wasn't armed so it didn't go off. Albuquerque lived on. Very big bomb- 15 megatons. That is roughly one thousand times the size of the weapon dropped on Hiroshima. Fallout would kill every unsheltered creature in 5,000 square miles. The test of a version of this device caused a lot of big thinkers on both sides to start thinking of nuclear war as "unwinnable" ----------------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_17_nuclear_bomb
I think Silhouette Man looks a little nervous.

XB- 70 Valkyrie

North American XB-70. High altitude penetration bomber. Mach 3 at 70,000 feet!
Same performance as the SR-71 Blackbird but twice the size and three times the weight.
Last attempt to build a bomber that could out-fly Russian air defenses. From then on it was
"how low can you go?".
Only two prototypes built. One crashed, one lives at the Air Force Museum in Dayton.
Ultimate futuristic technology. Still using what we learned from it today.
Very pretty airplane.


Operation Crossroads [1946] was the first controlled test of atomic weapons after WWII. Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific was the site. This photo is of the 2nd shot "Baker"- 23 kiloton exploded 90 ft. underwater. Amongst other things Crossroads proved that it's not a good idea to spray millions of tons of radioactive water over ships if you want to use them again, and that testing bombs as far away from anyone as possible was very expensive. Nevada was a lot closer and cheaper- and you could party in Vegas!
As a professional photographer I continue to be amazed at how dirty government negatives are! Dust, hair and fingerprints- these guys would never have made it thru my Photo-1 class!
I gave up trying to retouch this and decided to rant instead. Still, it is quite a beautiful hi-resolution image. Love the black and white indicator stripes on the palm trees.
Here comes the kid with the projector again!
Note: the Bikini bathing suit was named after the tests.

" Russia Launches Atomic Attack... U.S. responds with Variable Cloudiness !"

Weather Control- long a fascination for sci-fi fans and conspiracy enthusiasts. Scientists have dreamed and tried for a long, long time- to absolutely no effect. I once asked my father about controlling the weather. As Director of Research at Goodyear in the late 1950's he certainly qualified as a scientist- wore the lab coat to prove it. "Not enough power!" he harrumphed.
Weather involves titanic amounts of energy. It's about the whole surface of the Earth, the oceans and the air being heated by the Sun. Trillions of calories, goo-goo billions of watts. All of the industrial output of the last hundred years has only resulted in- Smog. Maybe affected the cycle of ice-ages and made the color green a pop-fad. Hardly a strategic weapon.
All of the nuclear fire from all the bomb stockpiles detonated all at once wouldn't make the thermometer go up a bit on the global scale. [coincidentally, scientists are now doing a fast back track on the 1980's spectre of "Nuclear Winter"]
We can't make it rain here in Portage County, Ohio. How would we make it rain on the other side of the planet where the bad guys are? Magic. Ultra-high thingy's or low-frequency whatchamacallits or even hordes of Shirley McClain channeling high flying wombats.
Even if we could find enough power to have a direct effect on this thing we call "Weather" what would we get?
But, hey- it's a really cool illustration !

VERY imaginative version of DEW line

Something about those dark cold spaces of the vast Great White North get those sci-fi juices flowing. The Distant Early Warning [ DEW Line ] system built in northern Canada was the setting for several of the best monster movies of the Cold War. "The Thing" and "The Giant Mantis" amongst them.
Big inflatable ray-dome, artificial movable rocks- love it!
sigh -never built.
The geek kid from the A.V. Club is rolling in the 16mm projector, it's time for an educational film!

Cheerful diagram. Based on smaller weapons of the early 1950's. He does look sort of depressed doesn't he?
Some readers have expressed distrust of Bert the Turtle!

reluctant father of the ICBM

innocent Western Youth led Astray!

I sent away for this when I was about eight. It was one of the great disillusionments of my life.
It really was just a big painted cardboard box! I never trusted advertising again. Long live Lenin!

"How wonderful!"

I asked my son one time (he's 21 now) what he thought of the threat of atomic war. He said it never occurred to him. How wonderful!

I was born in 62 and I remember air-raids on Sunday afternoons and the school teaching us to hide under our desks. It seemed like a dark shade over top of us all the time. It's great that a newer generation can dream about the future and not worry about the end.
Sharon Clause

Mig-21 мчатся к защите Родины

More beautiful box art from Academy Models