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Book Reveals More Nuclear Weapons Accidents

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We have finally published our second book on nuclear weapons accidents (Broken Arrows). The second volume also contains nuclear weapons incidents (Bent Spears), in addition to declassified material on Soviet accidents and UK incidents. The title is "Broken Arrow, Volume II- A Disclosure of Significant U.S., Soviet, and British Nuclear Weapons Incidents and Accidents, 1945-2008" by Michael H. Maggelet and James C. Oskins. ISBN 9780557655939, 338 pages, black and white photos (many never before published), see your favorite bookseller for more info-




In our three year quest using the Freedom of Information Act, we've received several thousand pages of declassified material. So, what did our research reveal?


1. Loss of a Navy nuclear weapon off the city of Jacksonville, Florida in June 1957 (no, not the Tybee Island, Georgia bomb, but close).


2. U.S. Navy warship hit by communist bloc artillery, severely damaging several nuclear anti-submarine rockets (ASROC).


3. Rocket motor fire which damaged a U.S. Army T-4 gun type atomic demolition munition.


4. Accidental salvoes of weapons from bomber aircraft onto the ramp at Loring AFB, Maine in 1956, and Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota in 1958. Parts of the weapons nuclear physics package were damaged.


5. Lightning strikes on several missile systems in Europe during the Cold War leading to severe damage and activation of the tritium reservoirs.


6. Declassified information on the loss of the USS Scorpion which sheds more light on the tragedy, and some interesting clues regarding the sinking of the boat.


7. Background on known Soviet nuclear weapons accidents and incidents, and information on the 1974 CIA retrieval of Soviet nuclear weapons from a sunken submarine.


8. A few dozen Bent Spear incidents dating from the 1950's, up to and including the Minot-Barksdale incident (too many to list, but your favorite Air Force, Navy, or Army nuclear weapon system is likely presented).


9. Dozen's of exclusive photographs including declassified weapon pictures, accident investigation photo's, and a photo record of the Titan II disaster at Damascus, Arkansas.


10. Transcribed records of official Broken Arrow and Bent Spear reports from the Atomic Energy Commission and Explosive Ordnance Disposal. We also include several personal stories from individuals who were present during several accidents and incidents.


All told, we believe the US Broken Arrow list is well above 60 accidents, not the 32 presented in the DOD "Narrative Summaries of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Accidents".




Michael H. Maggelet

(Retired USAF 46370)

Edited by Fubar512
fixed link

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Amazon link's broken/abbreviated.



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Here's a Table of Contents from our book, pretty much self explanatory for anyone who may be interested in nuclear weapons and Cold War history-


"Broken Arrow, Volume II- A Disclosure of Significant U.S., Soviet, and British Nuclear Weapon Incidents and Accidents, 1945-2008" by Michael H. Maggelet and James C. Oskins.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1- Nuclear Safety Aspects and Materials


Chapter 2- Additional U.S. Broken Arrows, 1945 to 1989

[Mike's note- research into our FOIA material on two dozen additional nuclear weapons accidents- the key word was "extensive damage"]


Chapter 3- Updated Information on DOD Broken Arrows

[with newly declassified documents on previously known accidents]


Chapter 4- Palomares, Spain Updated Information


Chapter 5- Thule, Greenland Updated Information


Chapter 6- USS Scorpion Updated Information


Chapter 7- Damascus, Arkansas Updated Information


Chapter 8- Bent Spear Incidents of Interest

[Nuclear weapon incidents- serious damage to a weapon or system due to human error, mechanical failure, lightning strikes, etc)


Chapter 9- USSR Nuclear Weapons Accidents


Chapter 10- USSR Nuclear Weapons Incidents

[some very interesting material into newly discovered incidents]


Chapter 11- United Kingdom Nuclear Weapons Incidents


Chapter 12- Espionage, Sabotage, and Security


Chapter 13- Unrecovered Classified Components, Training, and OST Weapons


Chapter 14- AFSWP Guidelines on Jettisoning Weapons


Chapter 15- Statistical Summary of Accidents/Incidents by Functional Activity


Chapter 16- Photo Record and Narrative of USS Ozbourn


Chapter 17- Photo Record of USS Scorpion


Chapter 18- Photo Record of Damascus, Arkansas Titan II Silo


Chapter 19- Photo Record of F.E. Warren Minuteman III Bent Spear





Excerpt from "Broken Arrow, Volume II-"


Accident 8

Date Unknown/Possibly Loring AFB, Maine/Mk 17/B-36

DASA TL 20-3 Appendix 1 Summary

A live Mk 17 Weapon was loaded aboard an aircraft by an MA-1 Lift. The aircraft taxied to take-off position where normal operating and preflight checks were made. The manual U-2 Locking Pin was removed by the co-observer. Approximately four minutes later, the weapon released through the closed bomb bay doors and came to rest under the aircraft. The investigation revealed faulty insulation in the wiring at station eight and a faulty pneumatic safety switch. The weapon was damaged internally and retired from the OST program. [Category 6]


Authors Comments and Additional Information

Date, location, and type of aircraft involved in this accident were not published in TL 20-3. Research by the authors indicates this accident likely occurred in March 1956 at Loring Air Force Base, Maine and involved a B-36 aircraft. The Sandia Corporation Summary additionally states “six detonators were smashed” with a hand written notation in a column appearing to be “Loring”.

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Further to your post concerning NWA here is two other books which may be of interest to anyone following the subject


GUIDE TO NUCLEAR WEAPONS - PAUL ROGERS ISBN 0-85496-1850-X printed 1988 gives a good idea of why so many NWA have happened when you see how many NUC devices there were


THE HIDDEN COST OF DETERRENCE, NUCLEAR WEAPONS ACCIDENTS - SHAUN GREGORY ISBN 0-08-037335-6 printed 1990 some intersting details on each known accident within this book


Both books are not new but give a good insight into the numbers of weapons and the type of accidents there has been


Hope this helps anyone interested in the subject

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