... BIG door!

... counterbalanced and designed to be operated by one man, huge solid doors protect the 'command capsule' of an underground missile complex.

... how to get out!

... underground missile complexes had an emergency escape shaft which was back-filled with several tons of gravel to protect from blast and radiation effects.

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1959 ... sneak attack!

... early submarine launched nuclear missiles were clumsy, inaccurate and short ranged.
Usually only one could be launched from the deck of a surfaced submarine. But as the illustration shows; just a few subs could do a lot of destruction!

(The Soviet 'trawler fleets' mentioned were supply and spy vessels posing as fishing ships.) 

1950 - 1953... Korea - the Cold War gets Hot!

                                                         Korean War

1961 ... North American 'Vigilante'

... originally designed as a long-range carrier based nuclear bomber the 'Vigilante' was used mainly as a Navy reconnaissance aircraft.

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1954 ... Avro 'Vulcan' strategic bomber (UK)!

... the delta winged Vulcan, from a time when British aerospace was equal or superior to the United States. A sports car of the big bombers she could do rolls and maneuver like a fighter.

1960 ... great PR film about the British 'Vulcan'

1974 ... B-1 (A) strategic bomber!

... original plans for the Rockwell bomber called for supersonic speed.
Ironically, her "B" predecessor has been deemed too unreliable for the nuclear deterrent role that she was built for.

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1957 ... rocket-palooza!

1975 ... the eye of 'Safeguard'

... a remnant of the now defunct 'Safeguard'  Anti- Ballistic Missile System huge phased array radars were built in the 1970's on the plains of North Dakota. This structure is 129 feet tall with 7-foot reinforced concrete sides.

[photo: Paul Shambroom]


1992 ... missile room - 'Ohio' class sub

... densely crowded with machines and vital connections this is only a view of a small part of a space that stretches over a hundred feet!
[photo: Paul Shambroom]

Trident Missile 

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1998 ... talking to the deep!

... part of the equipment used to communicate with United States Ballistic Missile Submarines  (boomers) hiding in the ocean depths across the globe. VLF (Very Low Frequency) radio station in Maine.  

[photo: Paul Shambroom]

1974 ... airborne ICBM's

... in the never ending search for a 'survivable basing mode' for nuclear missiles the US Air Force considered launching Minuteman missiles from aircraft! The concept was that a portion of the ground based ICBM force could be converted and carried aloft in giant cargo planes. Through aerial refueling and rotating crews these flying missile bases could stay airborne for days at a time. Such a system would be almost impossible to track and target. Since 'airborne alert' flights of bombers, on routine patrol carrying nuclear weapons, had been discontinued in the 1960's because of accidents; this would likely have been a system used only in a 'heightened state of readiness' alerts (as in: we think WW3 is goin down). 

Although never adopted, feasibility tests were carried out and a missile was launched from C-5 'Galaxy'.  image credit- upship 

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1952 ... US Navy "Cutlass'

Regarded as a radical departure from traditional aircraft design, the Cutlass suffered from numerous technical and handling problems throughout its short service career. The type was responsible for the deaths of four test pilots and 21 other U.S. Navy pilots. Over one quarter of all Cutlasses built were destroyed in accidents. The poor safety record was largely the result of the advanced design built to apply new aerodynamic theories and insufficiently powerful, unreliable engines. wiki

1952 ... bird dog!

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1967 ... launching the USS Narwhal


... bad day for Washington!

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1957 ... be prepared!

1950 ... F-86D 'Sabre-Dog'

... this further development of the F-86 'Sabre' got it's nickname from the black nosecone housing the all-weather search radar.

1976... you and your Dosimeter!

... worn like a pen, clipped to a pocket, this device measures total radiation exposure
over a given period.

1985 ... military shuttle mission

... 'modern' Soviet propaganda!

... harder to hate an enemy that seems a lot like us?

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1985 ... Shuttle - NO!

... this post was partly inspired by the Soviet poster [above] depicting the US Space Shuttle together with an impressionistic nuclear weapon. My initial reaction to the poster was: "Aw- those wacky Russians!".

But after a little research my memory was jogged about how much the early Shuttle program was used for 'secret' military missions - and how much more the military wanted and wished to use it. Conspiracy BS ignored;  the US Air Force was involved with the 'STS' from the early inception and actually longed for a fleet of their own Shuttles! 

A cool 4 billion dollars was spent on a new 'spaceport' at Vandenberg AFB in California for that purpose. From this facility the USAF planned to launch some of their STS missions into polar orbits. The strategic advantage of an orbit 'North and South' is that as the world revolves your spacecraft passes over almost all of the entire globe!

The Vandenberg project was all a big waste of tax-dollars; over-budget, poorly constructed and very politically incorrect! The Air Force never got the funding for their own Shuttles and had to elbow themselves in amongst those egg-head NASA types and their silly scientific objectives.

But the USAF, and their money, remained a significant influence on the 'STS'. In addition to numerous 'shared missions' there were blacked-out all military missions. No info about payload or mission parameters. No cute TV shows from orbit. 

All of a sudden we were reminded that many of these smiling, wholesome astronauts, were also grim no-nonsense military pilots.

With the Challenger disaster and increasing emphasis on building the International Space Station the military got fed up with NASA and went back to using conventional boosters to launch it's payloads from both Vandenberg and Cape Kennedy.

Both the USA and the Soviets have always had a considerable military presence in outer-space; from communications satellites to various levels of 'test' equipment for killing the other sides satellites and ICBMs. Many historians consider the political reasoning for the first thirty years of space exploration.. an extension of the Cold War.

1955 ... Vicker's 'Valiant'

... first of Great Britain's 'V-Bombers' to become operational, the 'Valiant' served in the Strategic Nuclear Strike role until an early retirement in 1965. Improvements in Soviet air defense made low level high speed flying a necessity- and the 'Valiant's ' airframe was not up to the task. The illustration depicts the bomber in an alternate air-to-air tanker role, using it's 'probe and drogue' system to refuel a strike aircraft . Of the 107 built, 44 had this tanker capability in the form of removable components.

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... Underground World Home Inc.

... information about this mind-boggling underground shelter appears farther down.

2011 ... say goodbye to the B-53!

... awww! The last of our really big nukes have been dismantled! The venerable B-53 Hydrogen Bombs, built in both air dropped and Titan missile warhead versions, have been removed from stockpile and reduced to pieces and parts. 350 were built between 1961 - 65. The last remaining 50 of these nine megaton 'crowd pleasers' were disassembled at the Pantex plant.  

I hope these guys in the ball-caps know what they're doing and realize that if that thing gets cranky there won't be a living thing left for twenty miles in any direction!

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1953 ... red mystery jet!

1955 ... 'Operation Alert'

... part of the handy top-secret guide to the large scale practice evacuation and relocation of Washington DC brass.
Hey! Whose up for a run to the Dairy Queen?

1962 ... fallout shelter shopping!

... Mom and kids check out the latest in prefab shelters; while the salesman explains the thrills of living underground in a converted sewer pipe!

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1961... North American A-5 'Vigilante'

... designed as an aircraft carrier launched nuclear bomber the 'Vigilante' was too much too late for a Navy that was switching it's atomic role to submarines. With long range and 
Mach 2 speed the 156 built were used mainly in a reconnaissance role.

Here's a video to help you learn to fly your North American 'Vigilante'

1951 ... survival in Michigan!

... note: this survival guide was prepared in 1951- before the development and stockpiling of Hydrogen Bombs. Since these 'Superbombs' can be up to 1,000 times more powerful than an old fashioned A-bomb; please do everything a thousand times! 
Thank you.

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