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)