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Sunday Evening Linkage

[ 31 ] November 18, 2012 |

A bleak sun dawned today over a brutal, unforgiving world.


Comments (31)

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  1. bph says:

    The video and the tool should be next to each other. Just so you get a visual impression of the calculated effects (they did use real test footage in the Day After.)

  2. Major Kong says:

    When I was flying B-52s at the very end of the Cold War, our targets had us hitting places that would already have been hit 3 or 4 times.

    It would have been “Aim at the middle of the big smoking crater”.

    That’s how much overkill was built into the nuclear war plans.

    • FMguru says:

      “Bounce the rubble” is the term I remember hearing.

    • ajay says:

      Presumably a more likely scenario, in the B-52 vs. Soviet air defences situation, would have been “follow the trail of smoking shot-down B-52s until you get to the target, which will probably be untouched”.

      • Major Kong says:

        By the time we got there we’d have been lobbing ICBMs at each other for 12 hours or so.

        Probably wouldn’t have been a whole lot of Soviet air defenses left at that point.

    • Barry Freed says:

      By the end of the Cold War weren’t B-52s still tasked with nuclear missions carrying cruise missiles? Probably AGM-69 SRAMs with a range of about 120 miles. Were you still carrying bombs?

      • Major Kong says:

        We had both. Our alert loads were 12 ALCMs on the wing pylons with 4 “crowd pleasers” in the bomb bay.

        We would have launched the ALCMs first, then dropped down to low-level to drop the gravity bombs.

        • thusbloggedanderson says:

          What a spooky job. Thanks for posting about it.

        • Murc says:

          I’m curious… would you actually have DONE it, if ordered to?

          I can see myself going to war, even though I’d probably suck at it, without significant moral objection. I like to think that if I were ordered to incinerate cities filled with civilians I’d dump the bombs in the ocean.

          I’d like to think. I have no way of knowing.

          • Major Kong says:

            We used to joke about turning south and making Australia the next nuclear power if the balloon went up.

            In reality we were so well trained we probably would have been halfway there before we even thought about it.

            Most scenarios assumed we’d be launching just ahead of our base getting hit and dodging mushroom clouds on our way out of the US.

            In that case we’d have probably done it just out of revenge.

          • Major Kong says:

            Technically all our targets were military. We didn’t deliberately target population centers.

            In reality, a lot of those military targets happened to be in or near population centers.

            Not to mention that a lot of population centers would have been downwind from the fallout.

            • Patrick says:

              I live in Seattle and was “relieved” to see that even 1MT in Bremerton and Bangor wouldn’t be in the immediate death zone. Of course, Boeing Field is probably a target too, not to mention the fallout.

  3. Informant says:

    The L&O analysis is particularly interesting to me because one of the main reasons I drifted away from the show in the later seasons was that their win rate got so high. (That’s also why I was never an L&O:SVU fan — their clearance rate was so high that there was no uncertainty to the outcome.)

  4. Murc says:

    Hmm. If I were home during a strike on the city center with any warhead size likely to actually be on an ICBM or in the belly of a bomber, I’d likely be fine; I’m outside even the thermal zone, and this is hilly country, which has a way of degrading the blast wave of even an airburst.

    At work I’d be dead meat. Well inside the 5 psi zone, inside a flimsy prefab office building high on a hill.

    • Response: Stop going to work.

    • Patrick says:

      I wonder if this didn’t have at least some effect on the decline of city centers in the 50s-70s? Before you have the total overkill of the 80s (or obvious threat reduction of the post Cold War world) it seems pretty rational to want to live/work 20 miles outside of downtown.

      Racism/white flight and freeways are all I ever see talked about in urban planning treatises but this had to have been a factor in some people’s decision making.

  5. allium says:

    If you find The Day After too Pollyanna-ish, there’s always <a href=";Threads.

  6. NonyNony says:

    More on this later.

    Please. Because in your Twitter feed I read this from Max Boot:

    Point of BMD isn’t to stop all missiles–just enough to make attacker think twice.

    … and I think “WTF?” And then I see this:

    BMD still useful even if it cldn’t 100% defend from all-out Soviet ICBM strike. Cld stop N Korea

    And I wonder if I’ve fallen into a parallel universe.

  7. Major Kong says:

    The problem with missile defense is that it can also be used offensively. That’s why it’s destabilizing.

    Hit, oh let’s say China, with a first strike and then use your missile defenses to block the handful of missiles that survive.

    That puts your opponent onto a “use ’em or lose ’em” footing.

  8. liberal says:

    IIRC after “The Day After” came out, right-wing nutjobs pissed and moaned that it was “biased”.

    • Major Kong says:

      That was when they were saying “With enough shovels to go around we’ll all survive”.

      Seriously. You can’t make this shit up.

      • liberal says:

        What I’ve never understood about that line of thought was that you’d be in deep doo-doo even if you survived the initial blasts and any fallout, and even if there were no nuclear winter effects, because the economy would completely collapse.

        Love your handle, BTW. One of the greatest movies ever.

  9. Sly says:

    The moment I learned that my parents, who grew up in Queens during the 40s and 50s, had to wear dog tags to school so that there might be something left after the nuclear onslaught to identify their charred remains is the same moment I learned precisely why they were so fucked up.

  10. thusbloggedanderson says:

    I’ve really been enjoying the destruction of various Mississippi cities with varying sizes of nuclear warhead. Thanks for wasting my morning, LGM.

    Now to figure out my ex’s address in Seattle!

    • Chester Allman says:

      Go with the Tsar Bomba and you won’t need to worry about the address!

      I’ve been playing around with it too. It’s interesting to see how vast the difference in effect is between the proverbial “suitcase nuke” and the kind they stick on the pointy end of an ICBM.

      • thusbloggedanderson says:

        I’m struck by how the more primitive weapons seem to be dirtier in terms of radiation, compared to their physical blast.

        Or is it just that the more modern weapons are more destructive, so that their respective radii more or less match up?

        • Major Kong says:

          I would say it’s the latter.

          The modern weapons can be delivered a lot more accurately so they don’t need as much yield to do the job.

          The older weapons worked on the “close counts” principle.

  11. stevo67 says:

    I don’t give St. Ronnie a lot of props because he was wrong on so many things, but he was right to attempt real nuclear disarmament with the Soviets. We still have too many of the damn things, but compared to the ten thousand plus warheads both the US and USSR had in their arsenals at the height of the Cold War, real progress was made during the talks in Iceland.

    Thank you for your service, MajorK, if the worst day ever did happen, I would not have envied you or your crew’s decision.

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