Accepting the offer from our earlier post, Southern Air Pirate weighs in with his thoughts re. the issue of nuclear weapons…


A friend of mine forwarded the couple of articles you have written about nuclear weapons to me. I have just only had a chance to skim them not really read them for comprehension. This is my take on the whole thing. If we could I would love to see the damn things taken away from the world. That being said out to sea their usage is always a little dicey. Once you irradiate a patch of water what then? A ship can still steam through the hot zone and can do so faster then an army can march through a hot zone ashore some place. Against a fleet it appears to be dangerous only if you are close to the initial blast. The blast alone may sink a few ships, but if the fleet is properly dispersed then the affect might be lose of a few defensive ships. The high value targets towards the center of the task force might now be exposed to the blast or might see limited blast and radiation damage from the blast. Not exactly a mission kill in that situation. So the only thing really left is their usage against subsurface and targets ashore. Submarines are the most the most at threat from nuclear weapons mainly from the overpressure, but why go that way if you can kill them with aerial launched torpedoes or normal depth bombs? Targets ashore are only a slippery slope from tactically (armies) to theater usage (rail heads, bridges, HQs) to strategic targets (the enemies nukes, cities, production facilities, etc).

You think it was hard to crunch the numbers on what might be winnable. Imagine the guys who had to stare at SIOP and then stare at the Kola, Kamchecktua, and Sevastopol peninsulas and go, "You want me to fly through that to delivery what?" I was a kid around a few of them (friends of my father), they were professionals too. Most of them understood the mission but accepted that the world would be in the hurt locker real bad if those special weapons came up with the weapons techs working on the planes and Marines were around the jets. I only got a chance to see once what one of the B/N’s looked like dressed up in the full Nuclear Delivery Garb and he looked very much like a TIE fighter pilot or Storm Trooper from Star Wars. On top of that the A-6’s had special fiberglass shields that were fitted over the canopies designed to reflect the flash. So it was completely heads down trusting your instruments to deliver those weapons to targets ashore. If you want something to shake you up, check out those Traditions Military Video folks online, they have an actual Department of the Navy film from the late 50’s early 60’s talking about how carrier air power would do in a general war scenario. The setup is Norwegian Sea patrol of a carrier and report of nuclear weapons being used. It then shows F-8’s and F3H’s taking off fitted with nuclear tipped aerial rockets engaging TU-16’s and Mya-4’s, then peeling off as the escorts are firing off nuclear tipped Terrier and Tartar Surface to Air Missiles to get the leakers. Finally shots of A-1’s, A-4’s and A-3’s taking off to deliver nuclear weapons to naval bases in the region. While all of that is going on the film also talks of a CVS with its A-4’s taking on a small surface group and then its S-2’s and H-34’s dropping nuclear depth bombs on various hostile subs and wolf packs. Everyone comes back home and the admiral gives a hearty job well done to all hands. I can not fathom that anyone honestly thought that way, but they did.

Well those are my simple thoughts on the subject.






  1. Shadow

    Terrier and Tartar? Where’s the love for Talos?

  2. anonymous

    “Once you irradiate a patch of water what then? A ship can still steam through the hot zone and can do so faster then an army can march through a hot zone ashore some place”

    Back when I was a third and second class, I was not liked by my LPO (And he was quite astute). So I was given the honor of being a member of the Nuke load team in an HS squadron. A real hassle for someone as inherently lazy as myself, but I learned attention to detail. And a love for the tedious.

    According to the instruction at the Load school, the radiation in an underwater burst was fully absorbed by the water in a short time after the blast. I am not an expert in this subject, but thought I would mention this in response to comment above.

    There is still a use for special weapons, especially with an underwater threat. Just the sound/noise saturation of the water
    will remove any advantage that a submerged system may enjoy when using sonically guided weapons. Makes ’em poke their noses up to see.

    Note acknowledged; continue.

  3. Steeljawscribe

    Talos? Still wicked good for VANDAL-ex’s 😉 – SJS

  4. Byron

    Pirate, you ever run that Kola scenario Bruce and I wrote? That admiral was smoking the primos stuff.

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