Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014

"Hot Flight"

Someone called AVHistoryBuff posted a very interesting video on YouTube recently: Hot Flight: The Quest for Nuclear-Powered Flight.   I highly recommend it; it's an old Air Force propaganda film from the '50s discussing the Convair NB-36H flights.   For those not familiar with this, they installed a 1 MWth research reactor in the bomb bay of a B-36 and flew it around - it didn't propel the airplane, it was only used to gather data on radiation shielding.

Incidentally, there's no mention in the film of the cargo plane full of paratroopers that supposedly trailed the NB-36H in case it crashed.   I've been wondering for a while now if that may be just an urban legend.

(Hat tip sferrin of the Secret Projects forum.)

Friday, February 14, 2014


In 1962, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway began planning a new railway between Needles and Barstow through the Bristol mountains in California. The straighter, more level route would be 15 miles shorter than the old line, shaving 50 minutes off the trip. But getting through the mountains would require either drilling a tunnel or excavating a new pass; the railway judged the cost of doing either with conventional means to be prohibitive.   So, in December of 1962, the Santa Fe Railway contacted the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), to ask if the job could instead be done with hydrogen bombs.

That inquiry was just what the AEC had been waiting for.[Ki]

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Atomic Machines

I have a guest post today at the excellent blog Alternate History Update.   Atomic Machines: an Atompunk Sampler briefly discusses some of my favorite products of Atomic Age imaginations.