30 seconds over Goldsboro (whoopsy-daisy!)

Goldsboro_Mk_39_Bomb

NPR reported today on a newly declassified document regarding a 1961 incident in which a B-52 broke up over Goldsboro, NC. Two infernal machines dropped, with one arming itself. NPR incorrectly stated that it was the failure of the final safety switch that prevented catastrophe, but it actually functioned — although if it had shorted out, sayonara Goldsboro. Part of the unarmed one is STILL IN THE GROUND, 180 feet down!

From Wiki:

Parts of the bomb were recovered, including its tritium bottle and the plutonium. However, excavation was abandoned as a result of uncontrollable ground-water flooding. Most of the thermonuclear stage, containing uranium, was left in situ. The Army Corps of Engineers purchased a 400 feet (120 m) circular easement over the buried component.

Also from Wiki, the commander of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team has said,

“How close was it to exploding? My opinion is damn close. You might now have a very large Bay of North Carolina if that thing had gone off”. He also said the size of each bomb was 3.8 megatons, more than 250 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb, and large enough to have a 100% kill zone of seventeen miles. Each bomb would exceed the yield of all munitions (outside of testing) ever detonated in the history of the world by TNT, gunpowder, conventional bombs, and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts combined.

WaPo article here, comprehensive and up-to-date Wiki article here.

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