Military Review

Palomares. Hydrogen bombs on the beach

Plane crash over Palomares (Spain) occurred on January 17 1966, when the US strategic bomber B-52 with fusion weapons On board, I encountered a KC-135 tanker during refueling in flight. The disaster killed 7 people and lost four thermonuclear bombs.
Three of them were found immediately, the fourth - only after more than two-month searches.

Episode Palomares (Palomares) - one of those incidents as a result of which the face of our planet could change beyond recognition. And more specifically, the southeastern part of the Mediterranean coast of Spain could turn into a radioactive desert.

During the Cold War, Strategic aviation The US Air Force command conducted Operation Chrome Dome, in the framework of which there were constantly a number of strategic bombers carrying nuclear weapons and ready at any time to change course and strike at predefined targets on the territory of the USSR. Such patrolling made it possible, in the event of the outbreak of war, not to waste time preparing the aircraft for departure and significantly shorten its path to the target.

17 January 1966 bomber Strathofortress B-52G (middle number 58 ‑ 0256, 68 bomber wing, captain Charles Wendorf) flew from the Seymour Johnson (USA) air base to the next patrol. On board the aircraft were four thermonuclear bombs B28RI (1,45 MT). The plane was supposed to make two refueling in the air over the territory of Spain.

During a second refueling operation near 10: 30 local time at 9500 altitude, the bomber collided with a KC-135A “Stratotanker” tanker aircraft (serial number 61-0273, 97-e bomber wing, the ship commander, Major, XMUMUM, XNUMX-e bomber wing, the ship commander, Major, XMUMUM, XNUMX-e bomber wing, the commander of the ship, major Major XNUMX, XNUMX-e bomber wing, the commander of the ship Major E-Chn Chimer, Em. Palomares fishing village, municipality of Cuevas del Almanzora.

All four members of the tanker crew, as well as three members of the bomber crew, were killed in the crash, the other four were able to eject.

The outbreak of fire forced the crew of a strategic bomber to apply an emergency discharge of hydrogen bombs. Four of the seven members of the bomber crew managed to leave it. After that an explosion occurred. Due to the design features of the emergency dumping of bombs, they had to descend to the ground by parachute. But in this case, the parachute opened only in one bomb.

The first bomb, whose parachute did not open, fell into the Mediterranean. Looking for her then three months. Another bomb, in which the parachute opened, descended into the bed of the Almansor River, not far from the coast. But the greatest danger was represented by two bombs, which at a speed of more than 300 kilometers per hour fell to the ground. One of them is next to the house of a resident of the village Palomares.

A day later, three lost bombs were found on the coast; The initiating charge of two of them worked from hitting the ground. Fortunately, the opposite volumes of TNT exploded asynchronously, and instead of compressing the detonation radioactive mass they scattered it around. Searches for the fourth turned on the territory of 70 square. km After a month and a half of hard work, tons of debris were extracted from under the water, but there was no bomb among them.

Thanks to the fishermen who witnessed the tragedy, 15 March was established the place of the fall of the ill-fated cargo. The bomb was found at a depth of 777 m, above a steep bottom crevice.

Palomares. Hydrogen bombs on the beach

At the cost of inhuman efforts, after several slippages and cliffs of cables, 7 April was able to lift the bomb. She lay at the bottom of 79 for days 22 hours 23 minutes. After another 1 hour of 29 minutes, it was disarmed by experts. It was the most expensive rescue operation at sea in the twentieth century - the cost of it amounted to $ 84 million dollars.

Satisfied generals near the hydrogen bomb, which 3 months later got from the bottom of the sea.

This bomb, falling in Palomares, miraculously did not explode. But it could be otherwise ...

There was an explosion of TNT inside one of the bombs, which did not lead to the detonation and explosion of the plutonium filling.

The result of the explosion was the release into the atmosphere of a cloud of radioactive dust.

The first Spanish military at the site of the crash.

Place the fall of the B-52. 30 x 10 x 3 m funnel formed

After the plane crash over Palomares, the United States announced that they were stopping flights of nuclear bombers aboard Spain. A few days later, the Spanish government imposed a formal ban on such flights.

The United States cleared the contaminated area and satisfied 536 claims for compensation by paying 711 thousand dollars.

Barrels of collected soil are being prepared for shipment to the United States for processing.

Participants of radioactive cleaning from the US Army.

Map of radioactive contamination of soil in the Palomares area and the location of the recording equipment.

Another 14,5 thousand dollars was paid to a fisherman who watched a bomb fall into the sea.

In the same year, Spanish official Manuel Fraga Ilibarn (center) and American ambassador Angier Beadle Duc (left) sailed into the sea to demonstrate its safety.

To some extent, the incident in Palomares served as the idea for creating the anti-war comedy The Day of the Fish Came Out.

Decades later, the Palomares doesn’t look like anything except the 17 January 1966 street.

Place the fall of one of the bombs.
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  1. Le franais ordinair
    Le franais ordinair 5 January 2011 02: 10
    Why is there no link to the real source where this post was published for the first time by Le Franais ordinair on October 17, 2010. Regards Le Franais ordinair.