This Day in History (11-Mar-1953) – American B-47 accidentally drops a nuclear bomb on South Carolina, the bomb doesn’t go off due to 6 safety catches

As reported by American Heritage, an American B-47E bomber was flying over Mars Bluff, South Carolina. The captain of the bomber, Bruce Kulka, decided to go into the aircraft’s bomb bay to look at the nuclear weapon after difficulties during the flight with its locking pin. But the unfortunate captain had no idea where to find the locking pin in the bomb release mechanism. He searched for the pin for 12 minutes before rightly realising it was high up in the bomb bay. He jumped up to see where he thought the locking pin was but unfortunately chose the emergency bomb-release mechanism for his handhold. The three-ton bomb broke the doors of the plane open and feel towards the earth. The captain somehow managed to grab onto something and haul himself to safety. But shortly afterwards, the plane felt the shock of the nuclear bomb hitting the ground. Luckily, the nuclear core of the bomb had been stored elsewhere on the plane.

The blast completely destroyed vegetable garden and the playhouse of Walter Gregg’s two daughters and created a massive crater measuring 70-foot-wide and 35-foot-deep. all that remained of the playhouse were a few twisted shards of the corrugated metal roof. A minutes before girls along with their cousin had moved away from playhouse to the side yard 200 yards away. Six members of the Gregg’s family including the girls were injured but thanks to remarkable good fortune no one was killed in the incident.

In a similar incidence on 24th Jan, 1961 at Goldsboro, North Carolina; a B-52G bomber broke up when the crew onboard noticed a leak during mid-air refueling. The wreckage of the aircraft fell over the town of Faro and five of the eight-strong crew managed to survive. The aircraft was carrying two Mark 39 thermonuclear weapons. One of them gently parachuted to the earth. But the other flew into a farmers field at 700 miles per hour. The force of the impact led to it losing its uranium. Government admitted that when the bomb was found its arming mechanism had gone through every step but one of the seven stages of detonation. More worrying, it later emerged that the bomb had broken into several pieces, including one which was never found. This missing piece contained uranium and its believed to have sank deep into the earth.



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