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Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds

Posted by Steve Rice (Olympia, United States) on 30 September 2014 in Miscellaneous.

This is a Titan II nosecone, the Mark VI reentry vehicle. It would house, protect, and deliver a nine megaton W-53 thermonuclear warhead. The destructive force produced by that weapon is 600 times that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It's hard to imagine such destructive potential.

The Titan II, in silo 374-7, was so outfitted. The gigantic explosion threw the bomb about a thousand feet (305 meters) into the air. It came to rest in a ditch near the gate to the complex and was in relatively good shape. The Mark VI reentry vehicle was completely destroyed. That was a good thing because the batteries and the arming and triggering circuits were all in the back of the Mark VI. So, luckily, the chance of a nuclear explosion was dramatically lessened.

The airman, who turned on the fan, died of his injuries and about 20 others were hurt. Silo 374-7 was filled in and abandoned. The last of the Titan II ICBMs was retired in 1987. Some of those were refurbished for launching satellites after the space shuttle program ended. The last such launch was in 2003.

Having lived through the cold war and having read Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser, I marvel at the fact we are still here. Over the decades, the U.S, nuclear arsenal has become much safer than in the early days. This is due to the great debate between certain scientists, in the weapons labs, who wanted safer weapons and the the generals who wanted reliability above all else. The safety advocates finally won the argument.

Now, we have to worry about all the other actors who think they need "the bomb". There is at least one country, with nuclear weapons, where the generals have complete control of them. A sobering thought indeed.

Command and Control
Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

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My Photoblog Challenges Winners

I'm going to be pretty busy from now until the first week of November. So my commenting will be spotty.
Images are preloaded for the duration.

jpla from St Barthélémy d, France

Une superbe série
JP

30 Sep 2014 6:07am

gerard1948 from Spain

An excellent series with magnificent pictures and explanations very interesting, we learn a lot. Thank you for sharing.
Have a good day.

30 Sep 2014 6:27am

jean pierre from paris, France

superbe nez!! amitiés

30 Sep 2014 8:08am

Roléro-t from Loverval, Belgium

Good photo!

30 Sep 2014 9:48am

Ronnie 2¢ from Atlantic Shores, United Kingdom

The more we learn about this recent past the more surprised I am we are still here . . but, as you hint, it ain't over yet.

30 Sep 2014 9:49am

Devi from Chennai, India

Beautiful image...
But I really wish there were no wars and no destructive weapons!!

30 Sep 2014 9:56am

Denny Jump Photo from Easton, PA, United States

And I often wonder, because of this and the sheer insanity that surrounds us every day, seems to be closing-in every day, and is manifested in so many ways every day, I often wonder what about our children and grandchildren. Don't these insane fools have n ounce of consideration for them? Sobering indeed, Steve- Thank you for all yoou have done to make things right.

30 Sep 2014 9:56am

Gemma Wiseman from Melbourne, Australia

Impressive but such cold cold metal.

30 Sep 2014 10:47am

Stephen from Canberra, Australia

Extraordinary series with powerful images to match your well researched information. I will try and track down that book - a must read.

30 Sep 2014 10:56am

Stephen from Canberra, Australia

...now downloading the kindle edition of Command & Control.

30 Sep 2014 11:05am

PATRICK from miramas, France

superbe compo

30 Sep 2014 11:29am

Steven from Chicagoland, United States

Great capture with such an alarming narrative of what could have happened!!

30 Sep 2014 12:15pm

Daniel from Kenmare, United States

boom! wow

30 Sep 2014 12:31pm

Shaahin Bahremand from Tehran, Iran

good shot

30 Sep 2014 1:33pm

Veronique from Tarbes, France

Thank you so much for all these details. Very interesting.

30 Sep 2014 4:40pm

Ruthiebear from Titusville, NJ, United States

An image to ponder.

30 Sep 2014 5:09pm

Sam from Chennai, India

What a great shot and information. War head and safety. Excellent. :)

30 Sep 2014 6:28pm

Diana from Olympia, United States

Thanks for the sober and somber picture

30 Sep 2014 6:57pm

franz from Baden, Austria

this famous quotation sums it up perfectly ... what horrors hide behind this innocuous looking black cone ...

30 Sep 2014 7:15pm