1962 ... illustration for 'FAILSAFE'

... Robert McCall illustration for a Post magazine version of the book "Failsafe'. The amazing and infinitely somber movie of the same name has haunted me ever since I first saw it on TV.
... here is the entire movie on Youtube- even better get if from Netflix.

... the song of the end of the world.

" ... yes of course the wailing sirens, the man-machine of Gabrielle’s last long trumpet solo.

Throw open the Cathedral doors and the front door and the screen porch door, any second the pure and horrible white light growing beyond seeing , beyond blindness, beyond purple and far spectrum violet.

In those few seconds that the Universe has left, the final time the sky will ever be blue and the grass still alive and green, in that last aching sentence of all of our lives; we listen to it, perfect and crisp across the last morning of the last day of the last Spring...

the Song of the End of the World!


... pre-fab fallout shelter!

1986 ... multiple warhead strike!

... time exposure showing re-entry paths of 8 MIRV missile warheads from a single 'Peacekeeper' missile. MIRV stands for( Multiple Independent targetable Re-entry Vehicle).
I don't know where they lost the 'T' in the acronym.
Each of these warheads could have the explosive force of up to 300 Kilotons- or 14 times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Fortunately for the test they were dummies.

... holy crap is right. The effects of eight detonations are much higher than one big bomb of the equal megatonage.
Having multiple warheads gives defensive systems more threats to track and neutralize. Since each re-entry vehicle can follow a pre-programmed independent ballistic path- one missile can take out different targets. The current Minuteman III force has only 3 MIRVs per missile. Before taking their seperate firey re-entry paths they ride on a last rocket stage called the 'bus'. The Peacekeeper, which was never actually deployed, could have carried up to ten. There were rumors that the USSR had designs for a missle that could have carried 30 MIRVs!

This was all part of the chess game of targeting the other sides missile and silos. In theory a 'first strike' could wipe out the opponents missile force. Obviously both sides adopted a 'launch on warning' protocol. As soon as the early warning system of satellites and radar spotted the incoming missile barrage a massive retaliation would be launched. It was also known as the 'use them or lose them' strategy.

Both sides had (have) a 'Nuclear Triad' of silo based missiles, bombers and ballistic missile submarines. This ensures that enough of a superpower's nuclear forces will always survive to launch a devastating counterattack. This maintained the wobbly balance of Assured Mutual Destruction'. Each piece of technology being advanced and then counter-advanced across the chess board that was known as The Cold War.

Flight time to target for an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile is between 15 and 20 minutes. Missiles launched from enemy submarines lurking off the coast have flight times of only 5 minutes to some of their primary targets. It is a very good thing that the 'high readiness' of the Cold War has been greatly lowered.



... oh boy, here's the AV Kid with an official Air Force film on the Peacekeeper missile. It was tested but never deployed.

1962 ... Space Race


Much of the Space Race of the early 1960's was about which side had the bigger rockets. Putting men in space was a noble cause but they were riding into orbit aboard modified Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). So a three ton Vostok manned capsule represented a considerable ability to throw H-bombs at the other side of the planet.

ABM site- Grand Forks- 1975


Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) systems have always been controversial. Expensive, prone to technical glitches. They seemed to motivate the opposing cold-war side to just build more missiles. Early systems relied on atomic warheads to zap the incoming missiles and only had to get close for a kill. Later and present day technology pushes for a 'hit and kill' non-nuclear defense. The defensive missile must hit or get very close to the incoming warhead.