Fitting “The Cold War” and “The Good Ole Days” Into the Same Mental Space…

Takes a bit of doing. Those “Things”.

Juvat, over at Chant du Départ, also gets extra points for a Monty Python’s Flying Circus reference.

So, There I was….*

Fairy Tales start with “Once upon a time…” War stories start with “So There I was…” At least according to Juvat.

(And yes, it is a Cold War post about “special” weapons. Do you know what went on during the Cold War?)


Operation Ivy, King Shot

Operation Ivy was the project by the US military that produced the first thermonuclear explosion. That was the Ivy Mike explosion. But they weren’t sure it was going to work. So they had a backup plan – the King shot. It was detonated a little more than 2 weeks after Ivy Mike.

Ivy King was the largest fission explosion tested by the United State. It was detonated on November 16, 1952. It was a 500 kiloton device, and unlike the Mike shot (which was 2 stories high, and weighed in at about 80 tons) could have been carried by the bombers of the day.

Ку́зькина ма́ть (Kuzka’s Mother) – Known in the West as Tsar Bomba

The largest explosion ever created by mankind was unleashed by the Soviet Union on October 30, 1961. Or should I say Союз Советских Социалистических Республик – CCCP? (Seems like a lot of these tests fall near Halloween.) Tsar Bomba – The king of bombs. (Video is below the fold.)

It was originally designed to have a yield of 100 megatons, but that would have made even testing it, a suicide mission. In the end it had a 50 megaton yield, which gave the crew of the Tu-95 bomber a 50 percent chance of survival.

The specs are horrific. Total destruction in a 15 mile radius around ground zero. 3rd degree burns over a 64 mile radius. (That’s almost a 13,000 square mile area.) Buildings and people would basically be set on fire over much of that area. Then there would be fallout.

The name Kuzka’s Mother (Kuzma’s Mother in some places) comes from a Russian threat, that Nikita Khrushchev was fond of.

The phrase “I’ll show you Kuzka’s Mother!” (or in Russian “Ya Pokazhy tebye Kuzkinu mat!”) is a Russian idiom that is generally understood as a threat.

It fits in the whole mode of Khrushchev’s shoe-pounding episode.

As I’ve said before, we are forgetting about the Cold War, about the kinds of threats we faced. I think this is why no one takes the new threats seriously. They haven’t considered even the old threats. Interviews around the movie 33 Minutes, and the reaction to the false-alarm attack warning that Hawaii recently experienced, and the reaction to the new Russian ICBM tell me (and others) that people have forgotten everything about the Cold War. History. Ignorance. Rinse. Repeat.

As mentioned, there is video below the fold.

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Russia’s New Cruise Missile

So the Russians under Vladimir Putin have just deployed a new cruise missile, which is bad, because it violates an end-of-the-Cold-War arms treaty. Russia secretly deploys cruise missile, violating arms treaty

But they didn’t develop this missile in the last month. It has been in testing since 2014. And unless there is something wrong with my math, Obama was president during most of the time since 2014 to today. But the press seems to think that this is something Trump let happen.

You could make the argument that since the system hadn’t been deployed, it was not in violation of the agreement, but that is probably a bit short-sighted.

The US concluded in 2014 that Russia had violated the 1987 treaty banning ground-launched intermediate-range missiles by testing the experimental new cruise missile, Reuters reported.

So what did the Obama Administration do in the face of this treaty violation? The same thing the Obama Administration did when Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula, which was nothing. (The same thing they did when Syria crossed the “red line in the sand” and used chemical weapons, which was also nothing. I’m sure there are other examples.)

I don’t particularly like Trump, but blaming this situation on him is a bit disingenuous, even for the mainstream media.

Operation Ivy: King Shot

Operation Ivy was one of the many projects run by the US military during the Cold War to test atomic and thermonuclear weapons.

The Mike Shot was on October 31, 1952. (The referenced post contains an interesting video.) The Mike Shot was the first hydrogen bomb. The King Shot device was designed as a backup in case the Mike Shot failed.

The King shot seems to be of less interest to history. It was on 15 November 1952 at 23:30 GMT, that puts it at 19:30 EDT. (That’s 7:30 PM for anyone having trouble telling time.) King was the largest fission bomb we tested. “King” for “K” denoted kiloton. Where Mike was a 10 megaton fusion bomb (“M” for megaton), King was a 500 kiloton fission bomb. It was still quite large. The Gadget at Trinity and the Fat Man bomb, which was dropped on Nagasaki August 9th, 1945, were in the 20 kiloton range, while the Little Boy bomb dropped on Hiroshima, August 6th, 1945 was in the 16 kiloton range.

I know the news-real/propaganda films of the day are hard to take, with the “swelling music” and all. Still, it seems to me that we need to remember this history, or we could find ourselves repeating it in some way. The Cold War lasted a long time, and it never got hot in part because the people involved knew how bad these things were. Not “oh that’s bad” but knew exactly what these bombs could do.

Now we have rogue nations building bombs, and no one seems to understand how bad that is. How horrible these things really are. (And no, I hold little confidence that the people currently in Washington – of any party – have a clew.)

Ivy Mike – The First Thermonuclear Bomb

At 19:15 Zulu time, on October 31, 1952, (That’s 3:15 or so in the afternoon, Eastern Daylight Time) the United States detonated the “Mike shot” of Operation Ivy. This was the first thermonuclear explosion. The Mike device wasn’t designed to be a weapon, as the cryogenic hydrogen isotopes it relied on made it too big. At 80 short tons, (70 metric tons) the Soviet engineers of the day dubbed it the “thermonuclear installation.”

The 10.4 megaton explosion pretty much obliterated Enewetak Atoll. For comparison, consider that it is 450 times greater than the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. In fact, the trigger for the thermonuclear explosion was a Nagasaki-type bomb. (The video explains how it all works.)

It is estimated that after decades of environmental cleanup, the atoll should be fit for human habitation in another 10 or 20 years. (Half life is your friend, when you are fighting radiation.)

The Castle Bravo detonation in 1954 eliminated the need for cryogenics. And proved that this technology could be a weapon. It also shows the arrogance of scientists. They were sure part of the hydrogen in the mix would be “inert,” so they calculated the expected yield at 6 megatons. That excess hydrogen, wasn’t inert, and the yield was more like 15 megatons. But that is a story for another time.

The Ivy Mike shot (that’s what they were called during the Cold War) ushered in the age of thermonuclear weapons. One atomic bomb destroyed the center of Hiroshima. A Thermonuclear device of this magnitude would have wiped it from the map. But as technology marched on, designers built smaller fission bombs and used them to trigger smaller fusion bombs. The W87 warhead/Mk 21 re-entry vehicle (from the Peacekeeper missile) was 300 kilotons. Small by comparison, but a Peacekeeper missile (now decommissioned) could have 10 independently-targetable warheads. (Anyone remember the video game “Missile Command?”)

It seems that people are forgetting about the Cold War. (Not that folks dwelt on the possibility of destruction when it was looming over us like the Sword of Damocles.) Aside from a few good James Bond movies, did we get anything out of it? Did we learn anything from it? Probably not. And now we have rogue nations with nuclear arms, and the Russians and Chinese making faces at the West. Seems like Cold War 2.0 to me.

You can see the changes the bomb caused in the geography of the atoll at Nuclear Weapons Archive. A side by side comparison of the island before and after the shot can be found at this link.

It isn’t surprising that A Capella Science has a take on nuclear weapons.

100 Year-old woman – founding member of the OSS – May get the recognition she deserves.

Stephanie Rader (nee Czech) was a member of the OSS working in Poland shortly after WWII. (The OSS was precursor to the CIA.) She never got that recognition that some thought she deserved. Will America’s 100-Year-Old Female Spy Finally Be Recognized for The Hero She Is? – The Daily Beast

Czech, a Cornell graduate, the child of immigrants, and who spoke Polish fluently, was a natural candidate for the budding spy service. She went to work for the counterintelligence section, known as X2, which was so secretive that some who served in the group didn’t even know its name.

Czech roamed the Polish countryside, spying on Soviet troop movements and gathering information on their own intelligence services. In post-Nazi Europe, the Americans and the Soviets, once ostensible allies, were now rivals in the nascent days of the Cold War, each trying to outwit and out-position the other.

She is being considered for the Legion of Merit, an award she was nominated for at the time, but never received.