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Hairog was wrong May 1946

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  • Hairog was wrong May 1946

    A long while back there was a long discussion about a Soviet invasion of Western Europe in mid 1946. One of the items discussed was nuclear weapons. Hairog at the time stated there was no pit to load a nuclear weapon on a B-29 in England in 1946. He was wrong.

    There was such a pit, only it was being used to load 22,000 lbs. Grand Slam bombs into a B-29. This was done at RAF Bomber Establishment Marham (in Norfolk) as part of Project Ruby.

    In May 1946, the USAAF and RAF were carrying out a series of tests to determine the penetrative power of bombs like Tallboy and Grand Slam, along with a 4,500 lbs. US rocket boosted bomb. They were dropping these on now abandoned "bomb proof" German structures like the Valentin Submarine factory, and Sub pens on an island in the Baltic, among other targets.

    Several modified Lancasters that could carry Grand Slams, along with 3 USAAF B-29 (in late WW 2 night camouflage) and 7 B-17 were being used for the tests, all part of 15 Squadron RAF.

    https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarch...0-%201045.html

    This is the page with a photo of the loading pit:

    https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarch...0-%201046.html

    The B-29 was selected for these tests because it could reach the necessary altitudes for maximum velocity of the bombs used. The Lancaster couldn't fly high enough when loaded with these bombs to achieve their full terminal velocity. The B-17 were testing the 4,500 lbs. rocket boosted bomb using wing racks.

    So, there was a facility in England capable of loading a nuclear weapon into a B-29, and an airfield that could handle the aircraft itself.
    Last edited by T. A. Gardner; 04 May 18, 12:35.

  • #2
    Very interesting. Thanks.

    Both links are the same though. Please edit

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    • #3
      Don't know why it didn't switch pages, but I fixed the links. Note that the B-29 shown is a "Silver Plate" nuclear capable one. No armament other than the tail gunner, the gunnery viewing blisters are mostly blanked over.

      The results on the Valentin submarine factory:



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      • #4
        On RAF Marham... This was one of two RAF bases in England that closed in early 1944 (Marham closed in March) to be reconstructed for use with super-heavy bombers. The runways were lengthened by 50% and the surfaces constructed to take much heavier aircraft. Marham reopened shortly after the war ended.
        It should be noted that the base housed USAF B-52's later without needing upgrading.

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        • #5
          Presumably why the RAF's Washington bombers were delivered to Marham in 1950 where they formed Britain's first nuclear strike force.
          Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
          Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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          • #6
            There was a case shortly after the war when the US sent an entire flight of B-29s over Germany to make the point that delivering an A-bomb in the direction of the Soviets was a real possibility. I don't think at that time there was a third A-bomb available, but the B-29 flight did have the effect of lowering the volume on Soviet blustering as the aircraft was associated with that weapon.

            This said, had the need to drop an A-bomb somewhere in Europe become a necessity in order to prevent further Soviet incursion, the target would have to be very carfully chosen. In the USSR would have been immediately accepted....in eastern Europe possibly accepted as well. Anywhere west of the Iron Curtain and you risk having the opposite and unintended consequence of giving local communist strongholds the popularity boost needed to take power.
            You'll live, only the best get killed.

            -General Charles de Gaulle

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            • #7
              Originally posted by asterix View Post
              There was a case shortly after the war when the US sent an entire flight of B-29s over Germany to make the point that delivering an A-bomb in the direction of the Soviets was a real possibility. I don't think at that time there was a third A-bomb available, but the B-29 flight did have the effect of lowering the volume on Soviet blustering as the aircraft was associated with that weapon.

              This said, had the need to drop an A-bomb somewhere in Europe become a necessity in order to prevent further Soviet incursion, the target would have to be very carfully chosen. In the USSR would have been immediately accepted....in eastern Europe possibly accepted as well. Anywhere west of the Iron Curtain and you risk having the opposite and unintended consequence of giving local communist strongholds the popularity boost needed to take power.
              In 1946 Stalin would probably have known through Soviet agents how many bombs the USA had available and also how long it was likely to be before the USSR had one too. I have seen it said that Truman did threaten the Soviets with it and Stalin was prepared to take the hit if necessary (it wouldn't be him being vaporised personally) as the USSR had already managed to withstand all the damage that the war in the East had delivered.
              Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
              Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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              • #8
                The other base prepared for super-heavy bombers was RAF Coningsby. The RAF got a total of 89 Washington B1 bombers (B-29's) in 1950 and 51.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                  In 1946 Stalin would probably have known through Soviet agents how many bombs the USA had available and also how long it was likely to be before the USSR had one too. I have seen it said that Truman did threaten the Soviets with it and Stalin was prepared to take the hit if necessary (it wouldn't be him being vaporised personally) as the USSR had already managed to withstand all the damage that the war in the East had delivered.
                  I've read before, but don't have the links at hand, that the US only had 2 teams in 1945 that could assemble nuclear bombs, and had 3 teams trained and ready by the late 40s. It took a team of close to 50 men almost 48 to 72 hours, depending on how good the team was, to assemble a bomb. The bomb then had to be used within 36 hours because that was the life span of the battery...which was the same kind of battery that would be in an automobile of the same era. If the battery went dead, the bomb had to be partially disassembled, and the battery recharged, which took 72 hours, or a new battery had to be installed. Also, it couldn't be left assembled for more than about 7 days...IIRC...because the heat from the plutonium core would start to melt the electronics and damage the explosives in the bomb. So in the time span being discussed, the US would only be able to drop 2 to 3 bombs at a time, and then wait for several days before any further drops could take place. It wasn't until the mid 50s that the US could actually mount a sustained nuclear attack. Of course by then the USSR also had nukes.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                    The other base prepared for super-heavy bombers was RAF Coningsby. The RAF got a total of 89 Washington B1 bombers (B-29's) in 1950 and 51.
                    The later ones were purchased the early ones loaned in a sort.of lease lend fiddle. Some of the B29s were B50s Part of the initial deal was to cover for the late arrival of the Canberra. Britain took loaned Washintons in return for being accommodating about later licensing of the Canberra
                    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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