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Question about old school nuclear war

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by CleverName, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. CleverName

    CleverName Southern Oregon Active Member

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    I was wondering why the US relied so heavily on bombers as part of the nuclear triad during the Cold War. I just dont see how the flights of B-52s were expected to survive over the USSR long enough to reach their targets. They're not particularly fast and they didnt fly above the range of SAMS. We relied on gravity bombs for quite a while before the development of ALCMs, in fact, the B-61 gravity bomb is still in our stockpile. So with no stand off capability, how were these slow, lumbering bombers expected to make it over the heavily fortified area? Sheer numbers?
     
  2. FarmerTed1971

    FarmerTed1971 Portland, Oregon, United States Well-Known Member

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    No such thing as ICBM's at the time perhaps?
     
  3. lonegunman

    lonegunman Eastern Washington Active Member

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    I worked on them for a decade and you could not be more incorrect. B-52's had excellant stand-off capability with SRAM and cruise missiles. They could fly under 400 feet agl at fairly high speeds and have decent terrain following ability. They had a range of about ten thousand miles and outstanding electronic warfare abilities. We could crank the entire wing up and have them all ready to launch in less than 24 hours. The alert force could launch in five minutes if need be and it was always interesting when they fired them up.

    The triade was a combination of sea and ground launched ICBMs and bombers and was part if the "Mutual Assured Destruction" or MAD concept. This idea was the come hell or high water, we were going to glass the Russians if they dared try and glass us. It worked.
     
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  4. aflineman

    aflineman Both South of Eugene and East of Portland. Active Member

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    Bombers could also be sent out and then recalled. Saber rattling a posturing for sure, but that has it's place. If needed, they were very capable of doing the job they were designed for.
     
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  5. Kevatc

    Kevatc Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Good point. However, if things had turned into a shooting war would bombers been our first strike? I would think it would've been ICBM's and sub launched missles. By the time the bombers got to targets I would think the electronics in the aircraft could've been really messed up. Perhaps lonegunman can chime in on this again.
     
  6. xm193

    xm193 seatac Active Member

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    ICBMs aside bomber were relied on both sides for a long time,submarines are where it is now!
     
  7. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    If B52's were so easy to shoot down with SAMS since North Vietnam was a SAM testing facility for the USSR for what 10 years. Yet Buff's bombed North Vietnam regularly.
     
  8. JimmyS1985

    JimmyS1985 St.Louis Active Member

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    b52's airframe is going to be more than 90 years old before the military retires it. The army has all kinds of old stuff laying around that is still relevant in today's warfare, the .50cal on top of humvees was originally designed in 1921. I think in 2003 during operation Iraqi-Freedom they had a B-52 take off from Louisiana, bomb baghdad, turn around and land back in Louisiana.
     
  9. trainsktg

    trainsktg Portland OR Well-Known Member

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    They're still using the U2. Eyes in the air are still better than satellites for many circumstances.

    Keith
     
  10. sailorman2010

    sailorman2010 Tri-Cities, WA Member

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    I just looked up the total number built, 744 units were made. So, if lets say only 10-15% made it through, that would still be 75-111 B-52's dropping their bombs on a target. Plus, we had the B-1's (1970's), B-58 Hustler (1960's) and B-36 Peacemaker (1950'S) just to name a few planes that would help out the B-52's going into Russia.
     
  11. rufus

    rufus State of Jefferson Well-Known Member

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    Ever see the movie Fail-Safe? It's a good one on the subject with a surprise at the end. A thinker's movie. Don't bother with the remake, the original from 1964 with Henry Fonda is the good one.
     
  12. KTM530XCW

    KTM530XCW Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    I still vote Dr. Strangelove as the best Old-school Nuke movie ever...

    Damn Ruskies...
     
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  13. CleverName

    CleverName Southern Oregon Active Member

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    Remember the Soviets had excellent Anti Aircraft capability. Francis Gary Powers U-2 was shot down from 70K feet in 1960!
     
  14. aflineman

    aflineman Both South of Eugene and East of Portland. Active Member

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    I used to think the "old BUFFs" were just a relic from times past. Then I received a full tour of one while on temporary duty. That tour (and subsequent Air Power Demonstration when I got home) has changed my mind immensely. With today's technology, they are VERY impressive. If you click on the video below, the written comments on the page tell quite a bit.

    [video=youtube;rJumTmmeYIY]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJumTmmeYIY[/video]
     
  15. CatCow

    CatCow Portland, OR Active Member

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    That's all 70's technology... But that stand-off option is certainly part of why they have maintained their relevance in modern combat. But in the early days of the cold war, SLBM's were short range, they and the rest of the missiles were not terribly accurate and had large(1-4MT) warheads, and the bombers were on airborne alert 24/7 - they couldn't risk losing the bombers to a nuke going off while they were still taking off or close to the base, and to reduce reaction times and be able to get to the target quick enough to do damage before the enemy could get off all their weapons and aircraft(hopefully). And at that time, a manned bomber was going to be the most accurate delivery platform available. Increasing accuracy of SL/ICBM systems, along with the crashes of nuclear bombers and the resulting loss of nuclear material, ended up killing the alert flights, and reducing the B-52's effect on the triad - but the triad is still very much in effect. We have plenty of nuclear bombs, that can be delivered from many different aircraft(the B-52 was not the only aircraft to carry nukes, far from it - they just happen to have the range to be able to strike Soviet targets from bases on US soil), and there are plenty of aircraft that I would be much more afraid of than a B-52 if I were on the other side. I don't know(and don't need to know) what our nuclear forces have deployed overseas for such use, but there is certainly a high probability that a limited nuclear strike would still involve a B-52 - ballistic missiles would cause too much trouble with other nuclear armed countries, as well as anyone with radar that could pick them up in flight. A nuclear armed cruise missile launched from a bomber, or a Navy ship in theater, is the most likely source. If we end up using nuclear gravity bombs somehow, it means things have become very nasty and we would probably be running low on missiles by then...
     
  16. PaulZ

    PaulZ Oregon City Active Member

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    It was all a matter of development. One weapon causing the other side to come up with something else. Power's U2 was
    the soviet response to overflights. They did not always have excellent anti aircraft.
    Then there was Curtis LeMay. Architect of SAC, his deal was to send in an aluminum overcast of bombers, they could not
    get them all!
    Both movies mentioned are superb documents on the cold war life style.
     
  17. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Powers' U-2 plane had been hit by the first S-75 missile fired. A total of 8 had been launched[5]; one missile hit a MiG-19 jet fighter sent to intercept the U-2, And Powers flight was just one of many many flights over the Soviet Union. Once the SR-71 Blackbird and A-12 came on line they never touched us again.
     
  18. CleverName

    CleverName Southern Oregon Active Member

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    I really like the movie The Day After. I believe it was banned from TV for a while, because it was just too upsetting during the Cold War. By Dawns Early Light was pretty good too.
     
  19. rufus

    rufus State of Jefferson Well-Known Member

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    I'm OLD and was shown this film in SCHOOL in the mid '60s:

    Duck And Cover featuring Bert the Civil Defense Turtle

    It's about as old school as you can get. Scared the bubble gum out of literally millions of kids. We had duck & cover drills all the time. My school was only a few miles from a major weapons depot, I think that had a lot to do with the frequency of the drills. :paranoid:
     
  20. CleverName

    CleverName Southern Oregon Active Member

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    What role does the B2 currently play in the triad? High value/highly defended command and control facilities?