August 25, 2013

Just in Case You Were Wondering

...what happens when you drop a nuke near a blimp.


Because...WE JUST HAD TO KNOW!

Actually, the test was to see if blimps, the USN's best anti submarine platforms, could actually employ the Navy's 'Lulu' nuclear depth charges they were fitted with. The conclusion was that they could...but only once.  This was one of the Plumbob tests from 1957.

This test actually seems to me to be a tad inconclusive given that it involves an above ground test (with its associates flash and much greater shockwave)  and a very old blimp (built in WW2).

Compare this pic and video of an actual nuclear depth charge, in this case the ASROC tests some years later. Lulu depth charges had about the same yield (11 vs 10 kt)  Why the blimps weren't used in one of the maritime tests of 1957 is unclear to me.





Additionally, if you get to the point where you're actually popping off nukes, then things have pretty much gone pear shaped already. The blimps were spectacularly effective ASW platforms even with conventional weapons, but McNamerra used the 1957 test with a blimp anchored next to an atom bomb to justify scrapping all the navy's airships in the early 1960's.

Thanks to Wonderduck for sending the atomic blimp video which I've been looking for for years.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 10:02 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 I know McNamara is credited with several valuable military procurement reforms, but there's so many others that seem either capricious or just plain old mistakes that I wonder if he didn't just flip a coin for everything that crossed his desk...

Posted by: Siergen at Mon Aug 26 16:41:35 2013 (Ao4Kw)

2 Crunching the numbers, (based on what's available through Wikipedia, so take it with a certain grain of salt), there's no good reason to prefer ASROC mounted on DD / DE hulls, instead of on the pylons of a squadron of USN blimps.  Even an obsolete, WW2-built K-ship should've been outside the range of an ASROC warhead going off (especially when you factor in the added protection from it going off underwater).  And the speed advantage of an airship over a sea-ship is certainly significant, especially when you add in the low-fuel-burn, long-loiter / outright-hover capability of an airship (vs a DD-carried helicopter).  Even with a smaller per-hull capacity, the ability of airships to have one or two warheads in the right place in half the time (approximately, compared to the sea-ships) should've been an effective counter to the "sub flood" strategies we expected the Soviets to use in the event of a European-centered conflict. Throw in how much cheaper you'd expect a blimp to be compared to a DE (let alone a full DD), and I'm very surprised that notorious budget-hawk McNamara didn't jump at the notion.

Posted by: Rick at Wed Aug 28 23:53:26 2013 (G1HTO)

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