Thursday, September 27, 2012

RAF Lakenheath- Fact vs. Fiction

Nuclear Weapons Accidents- The Broken Arrow Blog.

by Michael H. Maggelet.

July 27, 1956/B-47/Overseas Base

  The July 27th, 1956 crash of a B-47 into a storage igloo at RAF Lakenheath continues to be the source of disinformation (along with several other Broken Arrows we will discuss in the future).

  One of the most common myths is that the weapons, if they had detonated, would have "turned southeast England into a desert". Well, not quite.

  The three Mark 6 bombs were in storage, and therefore no nuclear capsules were installed, nor stored in the building (the nuclear capsule was manually installed in the Mk 6, and only when airborne and just prior to strike) . Each Mk 6 did contain at least 5,000 pounds of high explosives, and depleted uranium. Even if the weapons  detonated due to fire, there would not have been a nuclear reaction (U-238 is not fissionable through high explosive compression or fire). 

Declassified "Top Secret" message describing accident (source- U.S. Air Force)

  The former Atomic Energy Commission site at Medina, Texas is a prime example of such an accident. On November 13th, 1963, a forklift driver accidentally scraped a load of weapon components which subsequently caught fire. The resulting detonation of 123,000 pounds of HE vaporized the storage igloo and disassembled weapon components. No fatalities resulted, and the area around the Medina complex, Lackland Air Force Base, and San Antonio, Texas are not radioactive wastelands.

  Mark 6 fission bombs in storage did not contain material capable of a nuclear explosion. The nuclear capsules were stored in "birdcages" in a separate secure facility inside the storage area.

  Details on the 36 known Broken Arrows can be read in "Broken Arrow, The Declassified History of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Accidents" by Michael H. Maggelet and James C. Oskins (ISBN 978-1-4357-0361-20). Our book contains copies of declassified accident reports, explosive ordnance disposal reports, and photos and drawings of accident scenes. Our books are available through, Books A Million, Barnes & Noble, and other fine booksellers.
  Michael H. Maggelet is a U.S. Air Force retiree and was a Nuclear Weapons Specialist and Team Chief from December 1980 to June 1995, He had assignments with the 509th MMS, Pease AFB, New Hampshire, 380th MMS, Plattsburgh AFB, New York, in Rheinland Pfalz, Germany, and with the 28th Maintenance Squadron at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. During his time in service Mike worked on the B43, B57, several mods of the B61, the B83, and the AGM-69A Short Range Attack Missile.

James C. Oskins is a U.S. Air Force retiree, and was a Nuclear Specialist, a Nuclear Weapons Arming and Fusing Technician, a Nuclear Weapons Technician, and Team Chief from May 1955 to June 1975. He had assignments with the 35th Munitions Maintenance Squadron (MMS), Biggs AFB, Texas, 702nd Strategic Missile Wing, Presque Isle AFB, Maine, 11th MMS RAF Upper Heyford, England, 28th MMS Carswell AFB, Texas, 381st Strategic Missile Wing, McConnell AFB, Kansas, and 320th MMS RAF Upper Heyford, England, and 3096th Aviation Depot Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nevada. During these assignment Jim worked on the Mark 6, Mk 15, Mk 17, Mk 21, W39, Mk 15 Mod 2, Mk 28, B53, W53, B57, and B61.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Nuclear Weapons Accidents- The Broken Arrow Blog.

by Michael H. Maggelet.

  This blog was created to inform the public on facts surrounding nuclear weapons accidents (Broken Arrows) and incidents (Bent Spears) that have been declassified by various government agencies.

 In 1980, the U.S. Department of Defense released a list of 32 accidents. In 1983, Field Command, Defense Nuclear Agency released details on four additional accidents on Johnston Island in the Pacific in 1962.

  It's my opinion, after reviewing thousands of declassified documents, that there are nearly 60 accidents which resulted in severe damage to US nuclear weapons. This would have involved return of the weapon or warhead to a production facility for disassembly and replacement. Despite the severe stress on weapon components, there was no possibility of a nuclear explosion.

  After a four year effort through the Freedom of Information Act, Jim Oskins and I published our second book on nuclear weapons accidents and incidents, "Broken Arrow, Volume II". We believe it is the definitive source on US nuclear weapons accidents, and includes information on Soviet accidents, and incidents in the United Kingdom. Some of the Broken Arrows we cover include never before released details on the Thule, Greenland, and Palomares, Spain accidents, and details on the loss of the USS Scorpion in 1968 (which do not point to any hostile act, despite the claims of conspiracy theorists).

  We were also fortunate to include several first hand accounts by individuals present during several accidents and incidents. These include the Cunningham incident at RAF Sculthorpe in 1958, the 1965 USS Ticonderoga accident, the 1967 USS Ozbourn incident off Viet Nam, and a 1974 confrontation at an overseas base.

  Our books are available on, Books A Million, Barnes & Noble, and other fine booksellers.

"Broken Arrow, Volume II- A Disclosure of Significant U.S., Soviet, and British Nuclear Weapons Incidents and Accidents, 1945-2008" by Michael H. Maggelet and James C. Oskins. ISBN 978-0-557-65593-9, 348 pages, black and white photographs. Lulu Press.