1960's ... West German fallout shelter

... plenty of room for long walks.

... backyard suburbia

... as dramatically iconic as the single family fall-out shelter was,  relatively few were actually built.

Looks like these folks had some extra concrete left over so they paved the backyard!

1958 ... 'Steve Canyon' tv show

'Steve Canyon' began as a long running newspaper adventure comic strip. The strip was created by Milton Caniff in 1947, the same year as the Air Force became a separate service.
In 1958, Dean Fredericks played Col. Canyon in 34 episodes of the television version on NBC.

Fun for Cold War weirdos and plane enthusiasts, boring for normal folk.
Episodes display very accurate details and are focused on hardware and training. Dean Fredericks went on to star in 'The Phantom Planet' in 1961


... gotta love a site that's named 'Rip Haywire' !

1956 ... 'Operation Alert'

... 'Operation Alert:1956' was a nationwide Civil Defense drill. During the exercise President Eisenhower and other members of the government were evacuated from Washington DC to a remote tent city. Evacuation was a viable Civil Defense option during a 'crisis' situation when Nuclear War might seem imminent. In 1956, before ICBM missiles, Russian bombers would take more than eight hours to reach American cities.


1952 ... paper airplane defense!

As I have said before, in the propaganda war we had an edge over the Soviets- we had advertising on our side!

1950 ... sneak attack!

I've got to wonder how many billions of dollars in defense contracts these wonderful and scary Frank Tinsley illustrations were worth?

from Mechanix Illustrated

1957 ... doomed blimp!

... 'target' blimp- apparently this fell under the auspices of the Atomic Energy Commision's WECWBU (What Else Can We Blow-Up) division.

Here is a photo of the dead blimp after the shot-

1961 ... How And Why book of Rockets

... back then, if somebody could make a drawing of it, it was a possible super-weapon.

1947... Oppie visits Einie

... Robert Oppenheimer, the nuclear physicist who directed the 'Manhatten Project', visits Albert Einstein at Princeton. They aren't talking about bombs- Albert is writing down his favorite Goulash recipe.

( photo- Alfred Eisenstaedt )

... bad day at Kremlin!

... looks like the CCCP is under attack from atomic powered paper airplanes!

1963 ... Fortune Magazine

... article from 'Fortune' magazine about the initial deployment of America's 'Minuteman' missile system. The minuteman used a solid rocket propellant and was much more reliable and ready for immediate launch- as opposed to the previous temperamental liquid fueled ICBMs. Also first to use all integrated-circuits- no vacuum tubes!

The Minuteman III remains the USA's main deterrent missile force with 450 currently deployed.


...much is made of the fact that missile commanders wear side-arms; supposedly to protect against one of them going berserk and trying to launch a missile. A single officer initiating a launch is just not possible.
Since the mid- 50's most Strategic Air Command personnel, including aircraft mechanics, wore firearms while on duty. SAC also had a 'two-man' rule- minus the cloak and dagger. In any operations involving nuclear weapons, from gassing-up bombers to standing watch in an underground command capsule like the one shown above, nobody was ever to be alone or out of sight.

... here's the AV Kid with the super-cool opening to the 1983 movie "War Games'. It is a fairly accurate portrayal of a watch change at missile command bunker. The missiles shown in the movie are Titans not Minutemen.Part of the launch sequence is the simultaneous turning of two keys only once. This starts an automatic countdown.

1962 ... another silly concept!

... as I recall the Defense Department, when confronted with rocky uneven terrain in Afghanistan, utilized a similar secret weapon- the Mule!

... here's a video of DARPAs recent efforts-... so the enemy will die laughing when this comes up over the hill?

... well, they've got the sturdy corner of the basement part; but it looks like it's going to be a little too cozy in there. Especially for two weeks! Oh well, Dad likes to do things on a tight budget.

... Civil Defense pamphlet (portion)

... notice the 'L shaped' entrance on the shelter. Radiation travels in straight lines and cannot make a right angle turn.

1961... combo cook-out fallout shelter!

... ever industrious and cost conscious, Americans want to get the most for their buck. So for an extra couple loads of cement and a few hundred hours more you can put a patio with built in barbecue on top of your fallout shelter!

I'd rather spend the extra time and money on a perimeter defense system against the inevitable Atomic Zombies!

1962 ... illustration for 'FAILSAFE'

... Robert McCall illustration for a Post magazine version of the book "Failsafe'. The amazing and infinitely somber movie of the same name has haunted me ever since I first saw it on TV.
... here is the entire movie on Youtube- even better get if from Netflix.

... the song of the end of the world.

" ... yes of course the wailing sirens, the man-machine of Gabrielle’s last long trumpet solo.

Throw open the Cathedral doors and the front door and the screen porch door, any second the pure and horrible white light growing beyond seeing , beyond blindness, beyond purple and far spectrum violet.

In those few seconds that the Universe has left, the final time the sky will ever be blue and the grass still alive and green, in that last aching sentence of all of our lives; we listen to it, perfect and crisp across the last morning of the last day of the last Spring...

the Song of the End of the World!


... pre-fab fallout shelter!

1986 ... multiple warhead strike!

... time exposure showing re-entry paths of 8 MIRV missile warheads from a single 'Peacekeeper' missile. MIRV stands for( Multiple Independent targetable Re-entry Vehicle).
I don't know where they lost the 'T' in the acronym.
Each of these warheads could have the explosive force of up to 300 Kilotons- or 14 times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Fortunately for the test they were dummies.

... holy crap is right. The effects of eight detonations are much higher than one big bomb of the equal megatonage.
Having multiple warheads gives defensive systems more threats to track and neutralize. Since each re-entry vehicle can follow a pre-programmed independent ballistic path- one missile can take out different targets. The current Minuteman III force has only 3 MIRVs per missile. Before taking their seperate firey re-entry paths they ride on a last rocket stage called the 'bus'. The Peacekeeper, which was never actually deployed, could have carried up to ten. There were rumors that the USSR had designs for a missle that could have carried 30 MIRVs!

This was all part of the chess game of targeting the other sides missile and silos. In theory a 'first strike' could wipe out the opponents missile force. Obviously both sides adopted a 'launch on warning' protocol. As soon as the early warning system of satellites and radar spotted the incoming missile barrage a massive retaliation would be launched. It was also known as the 'use them or lose them' strategy.

Both sides had (have) a 'Nuclear Triad' of silo based missiles, bombers and ballistic missile submarines. This ensures that enough of a superpower's nuclear forces will always survive to launch a devastating counterattack. This maintained the wobbly balance of Assured Mutual Destruction'. Each piece of technology being advanced and then counter-advanced across the chess board that was known as The Cold War.

Flight time to target for an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile is between 15 and 20 minutes. Missiles launched from enemy submarines lurking off the coast have flight times of only 5 minutes to some of their primary targets. It is a very good thing that the 'high readiness' of the Cold War has been greatly lowered.



... oh boy, here's the AV Kid with an official Air Force film on the Peacekeeper missile. It was tested but never deployed.

1962 ... Space Race


Much of the Space Race of the early 1960's was about which side had the bigger rockets. Putting men in space was a noble cause but they were riding into orbit aboard modified Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). So a three ton Vostok manned capsule represented a considerable ability to throw H-bombs at the other side of the planet.

ABM site- Grand Forks- 1975


Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) systems have always been controversial. Expensive, prone to technical glitches. They seemed to motivate the opposing cold-war side to just build more missiles. Early systems relied on atomic warheads to zap the incoming missiles and only had to get close for a kill. Later and present day technology pushes for a 'hit and kill' non-nuclear defense. The defensive missile must hit or get very close to the incoming warhead.