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National Atomic Museum
New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada are where much of the design and testing of nuclear weapons took place, and continues to take place today. Sandia labs are nearby. Devices were designed, constructed, and tested in New Mexico, using materials produced in Washington State, and Arkansas. Much of the basic research had been done in Chicago, where the world's first atomic pile had been induced into the first sustained nuclear chain reaction. Since the 9/11 attacks, and with the increased tension in the world, it is now rather difficult to visit Sandia, so it is just as well that the museum was relocated. It's new home is in what I call Museum Square. Just down the block from here, is the New Mexico Museum of Natural Science, while across the street is the art museum. Old Town, and the Old Town Plaza are nearby, while Route 66, and downtown are just a short drive away. This is a fascinating, and somewhat awe inspiring thing to see. What is most surprising is how small, and normal so many of the nuclear devices appear. It is hard to relate these seemingly innocuous bits of human fabrication, with the terror, and power they wield.

The National Atomic Museum. This had formerly been located near the Sandia labs; but was moved here to make it more convenient to visitors.

 Entrance to the museum.

A collection of navigation, and detonation modules taken from various missiles and warheads.

The main hall of the museum. The missile suspended from the ceiling appears to be a scale model of a Titan with boosters; but I could be mistaken.

The casing to a Fat Man type nuclear bomb, like the one dropped on Nagasaki Power was in the range of 20kt. This is a plutonium bomb, using explosive lenses, and is the route taken for most of today's nuclear weaponry.
The Little Boy Bomb casing. This is a uranium bomb, and is a gun type of weapon. Though uranium weapons are sort of the back water of nuclear weaponry, a resurgence may be coming. Though uranium based weapons are heavier, for their yields, they require less maintenance, and can be stored much longer without degradation. This  13kt bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

A fellow visitor gives some indication of the size of these early bombs. If you want the numbers, they are:

Little Boy
Width 28 in.
Length 120 in.
Weight 8,900 lb.
13 kt

Fat Man
Width 60.25 in.
Length 128 in.
Weight 10,300 lb
20 kt

Operation Castle was a groundbreaking series of nuclear tests, resulting in the introduction of an entirely new generation of thermonuclear weapons. The tests proved far more successful than than planned, with tests doubling, and even tripling expected output. this caused some participants to be exposed to excessive levels of radiation, and the evacuation of several islands. Participants received this acknowledgment certificate. More details can be found by clicking here.

In 1966, a B-52 carrying four B28RI nuclear bombs, exploded. Two of the bombs also exploded; but because they had not been armed, this was only a conventional explosion, with no nuclear reactions taking place. Still, the explosion did scatter nuclear materials from their cores, around the countryside. The material was scooped up, and disposed of; but the area is still considered too radioactive for housing or agriculture.

The other two nuclear bombs, landed unexploded. One in the Mediterranean, and one on land. Both were recovered. These are the casings of those bombs.

The orbital stage of an ICBM, showing the multiple warheads. The conical MIRVs each contain a warhead, or a series of decoys.

This is the Arming, fusing, and firing system of a modern nuclear warhead.

This is the casing for the currently deployed B-83 strategic nuclear bomb. It has a yield of 1.2 megatons, and is the largest bomb that the U.S, has currently deployed, though larger weapons are stockpiled..

A pair of modern warheads, generally deployed on cruise missiles, or as multiple warheads on ICBMs.

length 31.4"
width  11.8"
weight   290 pounds
150 kt

length  41
width  18
weight  270
100 kt

A look inside of a nuclear warhead. This is a schematic of one of today's cutting edge weapons. Putting this diagram on the web, a decade or so ago, would have gotten me thrown into federal prison. Today, thanks to bill clinton, this has all been declassified, and given to our rivals and enemies. It is the result of fifty years of research, and had formerly given us something like a twenty year technology lead on any other nuclear power. One traitor in public office can do irreparable damage to national security.

This is me, in October of 2006, standing next to the casings of the W70, and W80 nuclear warheads, to give an indication of their size. These little warheads are 15 - 20 times as powerful as the comparatively gigantic Fat Man type of warhead shown above. Before the clinton betrayal, no other nation could make such powerful warheads so small. Now the techniques are public knowledge.

The children's' area, and classroom, at the museum.

A number of displays, demonstrating the tools and people who developed these bombs, and the advances which permitted them to grow smaller, even as their power was greatly increased.

This is the mk-7 tactical nuclear bomb, also know as the Thor. The yield on this 1700 pound bomb was 60 kt. It measured 30" x 183" . 1800 were produced, making it one of the major nuclear weapons of the early Cold War. These weapons served from 1952, to 1967. This was considered to be a lightweight bomb, at it's introduction. When compared to the Mk-5 bomb, shown below, which was developed at the same time, it seems quite modern. When compare to the 10,000 pound, 20 kt Fat MAn, of just six years previous, it seems a magnitude of order removed.

This is a MK23 Katie nuclear projectile, for use in the the 16" guns of the Iowa class battle ships. Fifty of these were produced, and each battle ship was equipped to deploy ten. The projectile weighed 1900 pounds and had a probable range of about 25 miles. This was the W19, 11" artillery shell, adapted to fire from a 16" naval gun. Yield was around 20 kt. The original W19 weighed only 600 pounds. So it seems that the MK23 was made by stuffing a W19 into a 16" shell casing. Its a shame that  no one thought to use a sabot. Naval tests using 11" saboted shells gave a range of 115 miles.

A pair of MK-5 capsules for the Minuteman Missile. These were the 1 mt versions. The warheads that they held used uranium fission triggers, to set off a fusion secondary. The burned up sample on the left, was sent into space, and brought back down to test for reentry.

The Mk-5 capsules, along with a Mk- 5 fission bomb. The smaller capsules held warheads with about ten times the power of the larger bomb.

The MK-5 was the first real improvement on the old Fat Man design. Yield was up to about 120kt, and weight was down to 3100 pounds. This is more than a  thirty fold increase in power to weight. These bombs were produced in 1952.

The Davy Crockett weighed 76 pounds, measured 11 x 30, had a range of about two and a half miles, and a yield of something like 20 tons of TNT ( .02 kt). This may be small by nuclear standards; but think about twenty tons of TNT going off. Radiation, from this midget nuke, would kill any one, within a radius of a quarter mile.