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The Day We Lost the H-Bomb: Cold War, Hot Nukes, and the Worst Nuclear Weapons Disaster in History

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  95 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
In The Day We Lost the H-Bomb, science writer Barbara Moran marshals a wealth of new information and recently declassified material to give the definitive account of the Cold War’s biggest nuclear weapons disaster. On January 17, 1966, a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber exploded over the sleepy Spanish farming village of Palomares during a routine airborne refueling. The explosi ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published April 28th 2009 by Presidio Press (first published 2009)
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Jul 31, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In July 1961 the U.S. Strategic Air Command (SAC) began its “Airborne Alert” program under which a dozen B-52 bombers were to be kept in the air at all times, with each plane carrying several thermonuclear bombs. Already difficult to fly, these bulky planes were overloaded by their nuclear payload and required meticulous piloting and multiple mid-air refuelings—a dangerous operation even under the best conditions—while traversing the usual flight plan from the U.S., over Europe, skirting Soviet ...more
Stephen Phillips
During much of the Cold War, the United States Strategic Air Command (SAC) constantly maintained nuclear laden bombers near Soviet airspace as a form of deterrence. On January 17, 1966, one of SAC’s B-52s rendezvoused with a KC-135 tanker over Palomares, Spain to conduct a final mid-air refueling before returning home. An accident occurred during the refueling and both aircraft collided. In the debris that rained down on the Mediterranean coast were chunks of burning aircraft, chuffing jet fuel, ...more

In 1966, a U. S. Air Force B-52 bomber from North Carolina was refueling from a tanker plane above southern Spain when something went terribly wrong. Possibly the planes collided, or perhaps there was a failure in the bomber's fuselage, but either way the planes broke up in the sky. Several crew members survived from the bomber. The bomber had been carrying four hydrogen bombs as part of the Strategic Air Command's aerial alert program, designed to foil a surprise Soviet attack on American base

Apr 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I suspect a large proportion of people who know about Cold War history are at least aware of this incident, but Ms. Moran's work sheds a lot more light on the details. What's more, she does it in a way that also makes it accessible to readers who AREN'T quite as familiar with the event's historical context in such a way that doesn't bog the story-telling down. Military/Cold War history buffs won't find anything they don't know in the background history of the Strategic Air Command, for example, ...more
Dylan Beattie
Oct 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
It's got everything - a plane crash, a missing hydrogen bomb, submarines, Bayesian search theory, diplomatic PR stunts and Cold War political chicanery, and a bumper crop of tomatoes that the US Air Force swore was not radioactive. And it's all completely true, which is a little terrifying.

I liked it, though. One of those books that has enough compelling narrative to keep you engrossed, and enough historical detail that you keep jumping on to Wikipedia to look things up. The drier historical det
Jack Cheng
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific history of an incident in 1966 when a routine (!) air flight over Europe resulted in an accident, dropping four nuclear bombs near the coast of Spain (!). Sounds like military history but it reads more like a well contextualized social history of the Cold War. The conflict is not so much with the Soviets as between branches of the US military, between the military's reflexive secrecy and sensationalizing journalists, and between the people "on the ground" and the institutions that are d ...more
Jul 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In January 1966, we (the U.S. air force) lost four hydrogen bombs over the southeast coast of Spain. Three fell over land and were quickly recovered, but one fell into the ocean, and we had a lot of trouble finding it and pulling it out. This book follows the story from start to finish, with some short detours into the history of the Strategic Air Command in charge of flying these bombs around in the first place. It's a pretty interesting story about the largest, most expensive sea salvage opera ...more
Terry Quirke
I enjoyed this book and felt that it gave a good overview of what happened, was well researched and delved into some of the sidelines to help explain why some things were approached the way they were. It provided a good introduction to the SAC which helped to explain why the 24 hour bomber flights were instituted, explored the search for the bombs following the accident and then the ensuing naval recovery exercise and all the compliactions associated with that.

A good overview with references bac
Jan 31, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting window in to the cold war. The idea of keeping bombers in the air at all times as a deterrent, seems unbelievable in todays world. This book seemed to plod along at times with names and facts that seemed unimportant most of the time. It reads like a doctoral thesis instead of a play by play. I realize that the subject is cut and dry, but at least add some drama to it. I would recommend to students of the cold war.
Nov 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an incredibly thorough and exhaustively researched account of the loss of four nuclear warheads in an air accident over Spain in 1966. It was the first of two such accidents before the U.S. Strategic Air Command was ordered by the Secretary of Defense to stop carrying armed nuclear weapons.
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really good, focused, piece of research on an interesting time in America's nuclear history.
Marek Skrobacki
not really my type of book, but it was quite interesting
Interesting, some tech parts were too detailed and as a result become boring
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a fascinating read, this is it!
Jul 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very quick read that recounts when the U.S. lost a nuclear weapon in mediterranean in 1966. Great detail, engaging writing.
Jul 15, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Fair, but left many questions.
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