©2013 - Patrick L. Groleau

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Displayed at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, this is a rather shoddily maintained example of the versatile B28RE* thermonuclear bomb. The many variants allowed the W28 to be used as a missile warhead, externally carried in tactical support role (such as displayed here), or internally stored in aircraft such as the B-52 or F-105. While I never worked on this particular configuration, I did maintain both the B28FI ("Fuzed Internal") and W28 ("AGM28 Hound Dog" missile warhead). The W28 had various yields, as low as "Where'd those tanks go?" to ... well, I suppose the term "city buster" would be a most appropriate description of its highest yield. Believe it or not, when transporting or loading this weapon there was a particular paranoia concerning "knocking off the blue balls!"

*"Retarded External," meaning, of course, that it could be carried under the wing of a fighter

aircraft and has a huge parachute to slow it down so the aircraft would have time to escape!

b28 “building block” bomb

While the USAF has a long and colorful history of accidentally dropping nuclear weapons all over the landscape, the B28 holds the distinction of being the last of such unplanned releases.  In fact, it was the “Broken Arrow” events at Polomares, Spain, in 1966, and Thule, Greenland, in 1968, that finally prompted the United States to abandon “Chrome Dome,” the Cold War nuclear retaliatory policy which allowed for keeping Strategic Air Command bombers in the air armed around-the-clock.   I worked extensively with the W28 warhead and B28FI bombs such as those shown in the photograph, and after over thirty years I guess it’s now safe to ‘fess up to having scraped off a bit of aluminum paint and put tiny dings in one or two lower fins, but I never saw anything like this kind of damage!  Most amazing, one of these weapons (the one on the right, I believe), was still functional after being submerged over 2,000 feet in the Mediterranean Sea for almost five months