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UK and USA tried to develop nuclear land mines

exclamation-flag-UKFlag-USAThe Ultimate Weapon of War: Nuclear Land Mines?  National Interest, Matthew Gault, 20 Sept 15  Land mines and nukes are two of the most terrifying weapons of war — for two very different reasons. Nuclear weapons can wipe out entire cities, and land mines wait buried in the earth, ready to harm anyone who wanders too close.

In the 1950s, Britain tried to combine the two into a nuclear mine … with chickens as a heating source. Yes, this was actually proposed. But we’ll get to the chickens in a moment. The Blue Peacock would have been one of the worst kinds of Cold War weapons — a nuke the enemy doesn’t know you have. The United Kingdom sought to develop and deploy 10 nuclear mines. Once completed, it would ship the nightmare weapons to the British Army of the Rhine — the U.K.’s occupation force in Germany.

The BAOR would then plant the landmines along the East German border in the north and detonate them should the Soviets ever try to cross the Iron Curtain. The project’s primary goal wasn’t to kill Soviet soldiers — though the blasts certainly could — but to irradiate and contaminate the North German Plain so Moscow’s troops couldn’t occupy it.

“A skillfully sited atomic mine would not only destroy facilities and installations over a large area, but would deny occupation of the area to an enemy for an appreciable time due to contamination,” explained a Cold War era policy paper unearthed by Discovery.

Scientists based the Blue Peacock’s design on Britain’s first atomic weapon — the Blue Danube. The Danubes were 10 to 12 kiloton bombs designed to free fall from planes. They looked cartoonish, like a bomb Wile E. Coyote might drop on the roadrunner.

The Blue Danubes packed less of a punch than Fat Man and Little Boy, so in 1954, the British Army decided to adapt that tiny nuclear punch into a land mine.

The War Office ordered development and the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment set to work converting the Danube into the Peacock. In a few years, the researchers had a prototype. The nuclear land mine used a plutonium core surrounded by conventional explosives with twin firing pins. Steel encased the entire contraption.

The project had several problems.

First, compared to a conventional land mine, the Blue Peacock was massive………

The U.S. Army developed and deployed nuclear bazookas — the Davy Crockett — in the ‘60s, but the tiny nuke was still a nuke. It takes miles for the fallout from even a small nuclear blast to dissipate. The Pentagon thought better and shelved the project.

Britain had a similar problem with its Blue Peacock. How could it detonate a nuclear land mine without being anywhere near the device? It came up with two solutions, one ingenious and the other bizarre……….

The British Army shelved the project. One of the prototype Blue Peacocks is currently on display at the Atomic Weapons Establishment Historical Collection in England.

Britain’s attempts to develop a nuclear land mine were crazy, but it wasn’t the only time a nuclear power attempted to develop mines and smaller, more tactical nuclear munitions. It was just one reflection of the mad logic that was 1950s atomic war planning.

This piece first appeared in WarIsBoring here.  http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-ultimate-weapon-war-nuclear-land-mines-13890

 

September 21, 2015 - Posted by | history, UK, USA, weapons and war

6 Comments »

  1. […] The mines were designed to produce a yield of 10 kilotons. They would either be detonated via an eight-day timer or by wire manually. According to a policy paper, the thinking was that “a skillfully sited atomic mine would not only destroy facilities and installations over a large area but would deny occupation of the area to an enemy for an appreciable time due to contamination.”[8] […]

    Pingback by Top 10 Disturbingly Practical Nuclear Weapons • FREAKOUT! Daily | September 12, 2020 | Reply

  2. […] The mines were designed to produce a yield of 10 kilotons. They would either be detonated via an eight-day timer or by wire manually. According to a policy paper, the thinking was that “a skillfully sited atomic mine would not only destroy facilities and installations over a large area but would deny occupation of the area to an enemy for an appreciable time due to contamination.”[8] […]

    Pingback by Top 10 Disturbingly Practical Nuclear Weapons - top 10 | September 12, 2020 | Reply

  3. […] The mines were designed to produce a yield of 10 kilotons. They would either be detonated via an eight-day timer or by wire manually. According to a policy paper, the thinking was that “a skillfully sited atomic mine would not only destroy facilities and installations over a large area but would deny occupation of the area to an enemy for an appreciable time due to contamination.”[8] […]

    Pingback by Top 10 Disturbingly Practical Nuclear Weapons - Listverse | September 12, 2020 | Reply

  4. […] The mines were designed to produce a yield of 10 kilotons. They would either be detonated via an eight-day timer or by wire manually. According to a policy paper, the thinking was that “a skillfully sited atomic mine would not only destroy facilities and installations over a large area but would deny occupation of the area to an enemy for an appreciable time due to contamination.”[8] […]

    Pingback by Top 10 Disturbingly Practical Nuclear Weapons – Dailynews Journal | September 12, 2020 | Reply

  5. […] The mines were designed to produce a yield of 10 kilotons. They would either be detonated via an eight-day timer or by wire manually. According to a policy paper, the thinking was that “a skillfully sited atomic mine would not only destroy facilities and installations over a large area but would deny occupation of the area to an enemy for an appreciable time due to contamination.”[8] […]

    Pingback by Top 10 Disturbingly Practical Nuclear Weapons - article | September 13, 2020 | Reply

  6. […] The mines were designed to produce a yield of 10 kilotons. They would either be detonated via an eight-day timer or by wire manually. According to a policy paper, the thinking was that “a skillfully sited atomic mine would not only destroy facilities and installations over a large area but would deny occupation of the area to an enemy for an appreciable time due to contamination.”[8] […]

    Pingback by Top 10 Disturbingly Practical Nuclear Weapons – Mundo Misterioso | September 16, 2020 | Reply


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