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"A Smoking Radiating Ruin at the End Of Two Hours": Documents on American Plans for Nuclear War with the Soviet Union, 1954-1955
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"A Smoking Radiating Ruin at the End Of Two Hours":
Documents on American Plans for Nuclear War with the Soviet Union, 1954-1955
Document One
W. B. Moore, Capt


The two documents presented here are quoted in their entirety, with minor editorial changes made for the sake of consistency. Sequential number of paragraphs in Document Two has been deleted.

1. Captain William B. Moore USN, Executive Assistant to the Director of Op-36, the Atomic Energy Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

2. Rear Admiral George C. Wright USN, Director of Op-36.

3. Captain Courtney Shands USN, Deputy Director of Op-36.

4. The official Navy acronym for Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

5. A naval officer in Op-30, the Strategic Plans Division, commented on this figure with three exclamation points (!!!) in pencil on the original document.

6. John T. Bohn, Command Historian of SAC, noted that this data is not borne out by figures in SAC files in letters to David A. Rosenberg, April 2, and June 25, 1981. According to Development of Strategic Air Command, 1946-1976, pp. 38, 43, SAC contained the following aircraft in December 1953: 1,830 total, including 762 bombers (185 B-36s, 329 B-47s, 138 B-50s, 110 B-29s); 282 reconnaissance aircraft (137 RB-36s, 38 RB-50s, 8 RB-29s, 88 YRB-47s, 11 RB-47s); 502 tankers (359 KC-97s, 143 KB-29s); 285 F-84 fighters, and 124 C-124 transport aircraft. They were allocated to: 6 heavy bomb wings with 30 B-36s each; 4 heavy strategic recon wings with 30 RB-36s each; 22 medium bomb wings, 7 equipped with and 6 in the process of equipping with 45 B-47s each, 3 with 45 B-50s each, 1 with 45 B-29s, and 5 with 30 B-29s allotted, including 2 wings on temporary duty with the Far East Air Force; 5 medium strategic recon wings, 1 with RB-50s, 2 partially equipped with YRB-47s, 1 partially equipped with RB-47s, and 1 partially equipped with RB-29s, plus a recon squadron with 10 RB-29s on temporary duty with the Far East Air Force; 6 strategic fighter wings, 5 with F-84s and 1 with no aircraft; 28 medium air refueling squadrons, 20 equipped or equipping with KC-97s and 8 equipped with KB-29s; and 4 strategic support squadrons with C-124s. The medium bomber and tanker discrepancies may be explained in part by the fact that by December 1954, SAC had 19 medium bomb wings completely equipped with B or YRB-47s, 3 others in the process of equipping with B-47s, and 2 with B/RB-50s; plus 592 KC-97s in 28 air refueling squadrons and 91 KB-29s in 4 squadrons. Hence the March 1954 briefing may have reflected second quarter or mid-year 1954 capabilities.

7. The Mark 6 was the standard American implosion type, fission bomb of the 1950s, successor to the Mark 3 "Fat Man" dropped on Nagasaki and the Mark 4 bomb introduced into the U.S. stockpile in 1948-1949. The first atomic weapon to be mass produced, the Mark 6 entered the stockpile in April 1951 and was retired ten years later; it weighed 8,500 pounds, was 128 inches long and 61 inches in diameter, and was described as having a "kiloton yield." Table, JCS 1823/35, November 30, 1950, CCS 471.6 (8-15-45), Sec. 20, JCS Papers, and Table appended to letter of Robert Duff, Director, Division of Classification, U.S. Department of Energy, to David A. Rosenberg, December 4, 1980.

8. This prediction was off by a few months. The first B-52 joined an operational squadron in June 1955 and the 93rd Bomb Wing was fully equipped with the new plane by March 1956. Development of Strategic Air Command, pp. 49, 53.

9. According to ibid., p. 38, there were 29 active continental U.S. bases and 10 active overseas bases (in North Africa, Puerto Rico, and England) available to SAC in December 1953.

10. The first KC-135 jet...