Frontier Former Editor

September 6, 2007

Dr. Strangelove? More like the Nutty Professor.

Thanks to Stepher (via Bagel) and Drudge for this cup of morning BWAHAHAHAHA!


photo courtesy Federation of American Scientists

 Nuclear warheads mistakenly flown on B-52, landing at Barksdale AFB

A B-52 bomber mistakenly loaded with five nuclear warheads flew from Minot Air Force Base, N.D, to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30, resulting in an Air Force-wide investigation, according to three officers who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the incident.The B-52 was loaded with Advanced Cruise Missiles, part of a Defense Department effort to decommission 400 of the ACMs. But the nuclear warheads should have been removed at Minot before being transported to Barksdale, the officers said. The missiles were mounted onto the pylons of the bomber’s article here

What I love is the name of the website – The Town Talk.

Mrs. Humphreys recently went to visit her daughter and son-in-law in Metairie. The Daughters of the American Revolution on Thursday held their annual tea party. A B-52H brought five special visitors to town in time for the parish church rummage sale.

And here’s our special visitor . . . . (makes it sound like an out-of-wedlock birth, eh?)

Jump in my Stratofortress

It’s as big as a whale

And we’re about to set saillllllllll

It’s small comfort, but the U.S. military really does try to make it as hard as possible for folks to arm these little party favors. Having had an immediate relative who was part of an arming party for tactical nukes, I can say with some measure of knowledge that they don’t have electrical power to the warhead arming and detonation circuits unless you physically open one up and connect the ‘device’s’ battery properly. It’s not exactly the sort of task one can do unauthorized without being noticed and probably shot and killed unless you have a whole lot of people in on a conspiracy. (Where’s SPECTRE when you need them?)

But last week’s little spectacle makes one wonder just how far up ther collective ass, the heads of Minot AFB’s nuke weapons, armorer and flightline safety staffs were that day. Not to mention the watch staff and involved aircraft commander from the bomb wing in question.

As for their indestructibility, yeah, they’re pretty damned tough if mishandled. But there have been some really ‘fun’ incidents, like . . .

 “January 24, 1961, Goldsboro, North Carolina

In what nearly became a nuclear catastrophe, a B-52 bomber on airborne alert carrying two nuclear weapons broke apart in midair. The B-52 experienced structural failure in its right wing and the aircraft’s resulting breakup released the two weapons from a height of 2,000-10,000 feet. One of the bomb’s parachutes deployed properly and that weapon’s damage was minimal. However, the second bomb’s parachute malfunctioned and the weapon broke apart upon impact, scattering its components over a wide area. According to Daniel Ellsberg, the weapon could have accidentally fired because “five of the six safety devices had failed.” Nuclear physicist Ralph E. Lapp supported this assertion, saying that “only a single switch” had “prevented the bomb from detonating and spreading fire and destruction over a wide area.”

Despite an extensive search of the waterlogged farmland where the weapon was believed to have landed, the bomb’s highly enriched uranium core was never recovered. In order to prevent any discovery of the lost portion of the weapon, the Air Force purchased an easement which required that permission be obtained before any construction or digging could begin in the area. Three crew members were killed in the crash.

The accident was apparently so serious that it was reported to newly-elected President John F. Kennedy. According to Newsweek, President Kennedy was informed after the accident that “there had been more than 60 accidents involving nuclear weapons” since World War II, “including two cases in which nuclear-tipped anti-aircraft missiles were actually launched by inadvertence.” As a result of the Goldsboro accident, the U.S. placed many new safety devices on its nuclear arsenal and the Soviet Union was encouraged to do the same.”

Thank you, Department of Defense, for making me feel safe at night.


  1. Shit happens. What’s the big dealio? It’s only a few nukes.

    You newspaper types take things way too seriously sometimes.

    Comment by The Bagel of Everything — September 6, 2007 @ 10:42 am

  2. Actually, I think it’s pretty damned funny – I can’t wait to hear the Decider be questioned on it.

    He’d probably say; “Ya mean I could take one away too? YEEEEEHAWWWWWW!”

    Comment by Frontier Former Editor — September 6, 2007 @ 1:30 pm

  3. Bonsoir Senor FFE

    I flatter myself that I agree with Mlle La Bagelle de Touts on so many things apart of course from religion, politics, dress-codes, Evolution etc etc

    … and we of course share our admiration for lovely, brave little Alisha who is already a credit to her Family and to (for all its so-human faults) her wonderful Country

    … but do I detect a certain well-phrased “Jane=Austen” sense of irony in her comment, which those suffering from a Humour deficit (like that confounded Rooinek Mr Eagle) might struggle to penetrate

    I don’t know which is more un-nerving with multiple nuclear weapons capable of crossing oceans and continents

    Is it Dr Strangelove (insane Competence)


    the kNutty Professor (well-meaning … err … Nuttiness)

    I suppose it depends on which one of them is American !!!

    My much-missed Late Father was in Italia in the (for me) recent unPleasantness with our German Friends

    He observed :

    “When the British sent them [shells] over, the Germans ducked

    When the Germans sent them over, the British ducked

    When the Americans sent them over, we all ducked !!! !!!

    Es macht man denken, nee
    Das ist es, doch

    I have the honour to remain your (et la perceptive et incisive Mlle Bagelle’s) obedient servant etc

    G Eagle

    Comment by G Eagle Esq — September 6, 2007 @ 4:57 pm

  4. We worry about “rogue states” and the deliberate use of atomic weaponry in the service of despots and demagogues.

    But when you add in the mundane slip-ups of a few dozen fallible true humans, the whole picture gets mindbogglingly frightening.

    “If these guys are the good ones, I don’t wanna know the bad.”
    –Bruce Hornsby

    Comment by Metro — September 6, 2007 @ 5:32 pm

  5. I wonder if this “mistake” wasn’t a mistake at all.

    Comment by Soylent Ape — September 6, 2007 @ 9:30 pm

  6. This was too rich to be a intentional mistake, unless the Minot armorers were too damned lazy to separate warhead from missle and thought they’d pull a double nifty to save some time and trouble . . . . hmmmm, it does sound positively Cheney like, though . . . .

    Comment by Frontier Former Editor — September 6, 2007 @ 10:40 pm

  7. Reading up on this I notice that Barksdale is a staging area for ops in the Persian Gulf.

    Hmmm. Now why could they need nuclear weapons somewhere where they could be speedily moved Gulfward?


    I don’t feel any better for knowing this.

    Comment by metro61 — September 7, 2007 @ 6:16 pm

  8. Hey, can they drop it over Dave Albo’s house? That’d be peachy keen!

    Comment by Stiletto — September 7, 2007 @ 7:59 pm

  9. I read this in the paper and have to say I wasn’t surprised.
    Sadly, not much surprises me these days.
    This could have really ended badly.
    Hey, more bullshit fodder for Hollywood.

    Comment by ~m — September 7, 2007 @ 9:01 pm

  10. You know, metro61, it does make perfect damned sense.

    Comment by Frontier Former Editor — September 7, 2007 @ 10:13 pm

  11. G Eagle:
    “When the Americans sent them over, we all ducked”

    That made me giggle.
    The thing is, tho…
    Americans don’t have bad aim. We just tend to fib about our true target.

    Comment by The Bagel of Everything — September 8, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

  12. I’m reminded of that Krazy Kat cartoon that I think Michael Moore put in his film against guns – Bowling for Columbine. Though it may have been another of his films.

    Anyhow, tried to find a vid of it, to no avail.

    It was quite a good one though, and yeah, most protective measures being sought against nukes are to protect the US of A. I’m quite sure nobody is worrying about protecting Sevilla.

    Comment by azahar — September 9, 2007 @ 11:29 am

  13. This was no mistake. Period. If you people understood the protocal for Nukes, you would surely understand. Everything is checked through a long chain of command. You can not have over 100 people make 1 simple mistake carrying WMD’s across the U.S. on accident. Just not plausible at all! This was a planned move, they just got caught!

    Wake up people!

    Comment by New Orleans Man — February 27, 2008 @ 2:58 am

  14. “This was no mistake. Period. If you people understood the protocal for Nukes, you would surely understand. Everything is checked through a long chain of command. You can not have over 100 people make 1 simple mistake carrying WMD’s across the U.S. on accident. Just not plausible at all! This was a planned move, they just got caught!

    Sorry I was late responding to this.
    Yep, I understand the protocols behind storage, handling and deployment of nuclear weapons. I also understand that, despite those protocols, dumb things have happened.

    In 1967, at the height of the USS Liberty incident, an A-4 Skyhawk was launched as part of an attempt to give the Liberty air cover against ongoing Israeli attacks. Since the carrier was in the eastern Mediterranean, it automatically became a strategic nuclear asset under the U.S. Strategic Integrated Operations Plan and was required to maintain a nuclear alert aircraft.

    Guess what duty the Skyhawk was posted for that day?

    Luckily, someone realized WTF happened and issued a recall order.

    No, it doesn’t take 100 people making the mistake. It takes one to make the mistake, the following person to make an assumption and the rest to do their jobs based on person No. 2 telling them that all protocols have been followed.

    Comment by Frontier Former Editor — March 31, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

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