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Declassified Video Shows How B-52 Crews Would Conduct Nuclear Strikes During Cold War

The Aviationist March 26, 2023 STEFANO D’URSO

A 1960 Strategic Air Command training video familiarized B-52 crews with the devastating effects of nuclear weapons and how to navigate through a nuclear battlefield.

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recently declassified some very interesting training films and film reports that the Strategic Air Command prepared in the 1960s to prepare bomber pilots and crews for a potential nuclear war. Among these there is the United States Air Force Training Film 5363, “Nuclear Effects During SAC Delivery Missions,” made in 1960 and which kept its secret classification until now.

The purpose of Training Film 5363 was to familiarize SAC pilots and crew members with the devastating effects of nuclear weapons detonations and the detailed plans that were developed so the crews could evade the dangers of a nuclear battlefield and return home after completing their mission. These plans were among the contents of the “Combat Mission Folders,” which included guidance needed to reach targets and return to base safely and were assigned to each nuclear-armed bomber on alert duty.

…………………… The film begins with a B-52 flying a sortie of the Emergency War Order, launched under Positive Control and on its way to the “go/no-go” position, but without the crew knowing if this is a real mission or an exercise until they get there. Before eventually going in, however, the narrator explains that, while they know that the mission can be successfully accomplished as it was carefully planned and reviewed by highly qualified combat planners and they flew countless profile missions, they need to know the nuclear effects of a detonation.

The narrator then takes the viewers trough the basics of a nuclear detonation’s thermal, blast and radiation effects and the efforts that the U.S. Air Force had taken to prepare the crews for situations where they might experience them. In fact, the central part of the film covers the effects of nuclear explosions of both aircraft and crew and the measures taken to minimize crew exposure, like carefully planned routes that created a safe distance between the bomber and the detonation of their weapon and the detonations caused by other SAC bombers operating in the same area.

The film then returns to the B-52 approaching the turnaround point, when then a radio message from SAC comes in: “Sky King. Sky King. This is Migrate. This is Migrate. Do not answer. Break. Break. Alpha Sierra Foxtrot Juliet Oscar Papa Mike Tango. Break. Go-Code.” The crew scrambles to verify the code and discover that this is the go code for a real mission: “Pilot to crew. We checked the go code and verified it. This is it. We’re going in”.

After a very brief moment of disbelief, the crew members get down to business and prepare the aircraft for the nuclear strike mission as they are about to cross the H-Hour Control Line on the way to their assigned target in the Soviet Union. As they navigate towards the target, the crew experience the shockwave from another nuclear bomb dropped in the vicinity of their route, before a low-altitude flight over lakes, mountains, forests and fields to avoid Soviet air defense missiles…………………………………………………. more

March 26, 2023 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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