- File Size: 1680 KB
- Print Length: 76 pages
- Publication Date: May 14, 2014
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B006RUP71Y
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,780,710 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Carrying a Nuke to Sevastopol: One Pilot, One Engine, and One Plutonium Bomb Kindle Edition
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“Carrying a Nuke to Sevastopol" is Ford’s study of what the U.S. military called “LABS” or “Low Altitude Bombing System.” He tells how it was done in 1957 by the pilots who flew the venerable, single-engine, propeller-driven Douglas AD-6 Skyraider, also known as the AD or Able Dog. The AD would later earn its reputation in Vietnam as “the finest close support aircraft ever built.” There it was called the “Spad” after a World War I wood-and-fabric biplane. And that tells you something.
Using a WWII era airplane for a nuclear mission seems crazy now, but that was the nature of the Cold War and the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), the sure annihilation of both sides if nuclear weapons were put to use. Had World War III started suddenly, the AD was ready, sitting on a carrier deck in the Mediterranean. It would take off – not catapult - and fly the many miles to the Soviet Union – at 140 knots and fifty feet above the water. A few miles from its target, the AD would perform the LABS maneuver or “idiot loop” to fling the bomb toward its still distant target and allow the AD to get out of the way before the bomb exploded. If the AD and its pilot survived the blast, there was really no place to go. Their carrier was probably already sunk. And the “bright suns…rising all over Russia” that morning would also be rising over America as the Russians struck back. “We really didn’t worry too much about the mission,” one AD pilot told Ford. “Sort of figured it would be the end of the world anyway.”
The book includes email Ford received from pilots who flew the Skyraider as a nuclear bomber. The messages give insight into the real life things the pilots had to deal with as they trained for their nuclear mission - and accepted the reality of their role. This is a book for airplane buffs, many of whom probably haven’t come across the AD’s nuclear mission before – it was kept secret for a long time. But this is also a book for anyone with interest in the Cold War and what mankind faced in the most dangerous time for the survival of what we call civilization. But maybe the MAD doctrine was not so crazy. We are all still here.
Top international reviews
The piston engined Skyraider is certainly an unlikely platform for the nuclear delivery role and the survival rate of the aircraft in such missions would surely have been close to nil. Yet in the context of the Cold War turning into an all out nuclear holocaust, one can definitely understand the thinking behind using all options available.
The book is divided into two parts - the first one covering what a specific nuclear mission bombing the Sevastopol airport would look like, and the second one, which is a collection of e-mail exchanges the author had with the pilots actually having trained in the nuclear delivery role on the Skyraider.
This means a concise and structured first part, with descriptions of what the mission would look like, how the training for the low level lobbing delivery took place and on what the difficulties prior to delivering the payload and subsequent to the delivery would have been. This is then followed by a fairly unstructured but also unfiltered second part, with the individual responses of the former aviators tasked with preparing for those missions.
Arming highly vulnerable (in the context of an all out war) Skyraiders with nukes was certainly one of the more outrageous ideas of the Cold War, so getting some collected information on this is certainly highly interesting. The first (short) part of the book is also highly readable and well structured. The second one probably of higher value to former USMC / USN aviators, who flew the plane and would like to reminisce over times past. Overall an interesting piece on an unlikely Cold War aviation topic.
10 hour solo missions at 140 knots ....200 feet above the sea.