How a Cold War nuke almost exploded in North Carolina (+video)
When a B-52 bomber broke apart over North Carolina in 1961, a nuclear bomb fell to earth. Only a low-voltage switch kept it from exploding, according to a published report.
Countering a long-time narrative by the US government, a massive nuclear bomb falling toward Goldsboro, North Carolina, after a B-52 bomber broke apart in 1961 bypassed several fail-safes, meaning an apocalyptic explosion was stopped only by a tiny last-ditch, low-voltage switch, new Freedom of Information Act documents explain.
The hydrogen bomb, which would have been 260 times more powerful than the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, had deployed its parachute as it fell and had begun its activation procedure, according to secret documents obtained by journalist Eric Schlosser and detailed in the Guardian newspaper.
Entitled “Goldsboro Revisited or: How I Learned to Mistrust the H-bomb,” the document, written eight years after the incident, states conclusively that “one simple, dynamo-technology, low-voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe,” writes Sandia Labs scientist Parker Jones.
“The MK 39 Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne alert role in the B-52," Mr. Jones adds.