B43 nuclear bomb
Overview
 
The B43 was a United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 air-dropped variable yield
Variable yield
Variable yield — or dial-a-yield — is an option available on most modern nuclear weapons. It allows the operator to specify a weapon's yield, or explosive power, allowing a single design to be used in different situations...

 nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 used by a wide variety of fighter bomber and bomber aircraft.

The B43 was developed from 1956 by Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory, managed and operated by Los Alamos National Security , located in Los Alamos, New Mexico...

, entering production in 1959. It entered service in April 1961. Total production was 2,000 weapons, ending in 1965. Some variants were parachute-retarded and featured a ribbon parachute.

The B43 was built in two variants, Mod 1 and Mod 2, each with five yield options.
Encyclopedia
The B43 was a United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 air-dropped variable yield
Variable yield
Variable yield — or dial-a-yield — is an option available on most modern nuclear weapons. It allows the operator to specify a weapon's yield, or explosive power, allowing a single design to be used in different situations...

 nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 used by a wide variety of fighter bomber and bomber aircraft.

The B43 was developed from 1956 by Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory, managed and operated by Los Alamos National Security , located in Los Alamos, New Mexico...

, entering production in 1959. It entered service in April 1961. Total production was 2,000 weapons, ending in 1965. Some variants were parachute-retarded and featured a ribbon parachute.

The B43 was built in two variants, Mod 1 and Mod 2, each with five yield options. Depending on version, the B43 was 18 inches (45 cm) in diameter, and length was between 12 ft 6 in and 13 ft 8 in (3.81 m and 4.15 m). The various versions weighed between 2,060 lb and 2,125 lb (935 kg to 960 kg). It could be delivered at altitudes as low as 300 ft (90 m), with fuzing
Fuze
Fuze Beverage, commercially referred to as just Fuze , is a manufacturer of teas and non-carbonated fruit drinks enriched with vitamins. Currently the brand consists of five vitamin-infused lines: Slenderize, Refresh, Tea, Defensify, and Vitalize...

 options for airburst, ground burst, free fall, contact, or laydown delivery
Laydown delivery
Laydown delivery is a mode of deploying a free-fall nuclear weapon in which the bomb's fall is slowed by parachute so that it actually lands on the ground before detonating. Laydown delivery requires that the weapon's case be reinforced so that it can survive the impact, and generally involves a...

. Explosive yield varied from 70 kilotons of TNT to 1 megaton
TNT equivalent
TNT equivalent is a method of quantifying the energy released in explosions. The ton of TNT is a unit of energy equal to 4.184 gigajoules, which is approximately the amount of energy released in the detonation of one ton of TNT...

 of TNT.

The B43 used the Tsetse primary
Tsetse primary
The Tsetse was the common design nuclear fission bomb core for several Cold War designs for American nuclear and thermonuclear weapons, according to researcher Chuck Hansen....

 design for its first fission stage, along with several mid and late 1950s designs.

Delivery systems

Carrier aircraft included most USAF, USN and USMC fighters, bombers and attack aircraft, including the A-3 Skywarrior
A-3 Skywarrior
The Douglas A-3 Skywarrior was originally designed as a strategic bomber for the United States Navy and was among the longest serving carrier-based jet aircraft in history. It entered service in the mid-1950s and was retired in 1991...

, A-4 Skyhawk
A-4 Skyhawk
The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a carrier-capable ground-attack aircraft designed for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The delta winged, single-engined Skyhawk was designed and produced by Douglas Aircraft Company, and later McDonnell Douglas. It was originally designated the A4D...

, A-5 Vigilante
A-5 Vigilante
The North American A-5 Vigilante was a carrier-based supersonic bomber designed for the United States Navy. Its service in the nuclear strike role to replace the A-3 Skywarrior was very short; however, as the RA-5C, it saw extensive service during the Vietnam War in the tactical strike...

, A-6 Intruder
A-6 Intruder
The Grumman A-6 Intruder was an American, twin jet-engine, mid-wing attack aircraft built by Grumman Aerospace. In service with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps between 1963 and 1997, the Intruder was designed as an all-weather medium attack aircraft to replace the piston-engined A-1 Skyraider...

, A-7 Corsair II
A-7 Corsair II
The Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II is a carrier-based subsonic light attack aircraft introduced to replace the United States Navy's Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, initially entering service during the Vietnam War...

, B-47 Stratojet
B-47 Stratojet
The Boeing Model 450 B-47 Stratojet was a long-range, six-engined, jet-powered medium bomber built to fly at high subsonic speeds and at high altitudes. It was primarily designed to drop nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union...

, B-52 Stratofortress
B-52 Stratofortress
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber operated by the United States Air Force since the 1950s. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, who have continued to provide maintainence and upgrades to the aircraft in service...

, F-100 Super Sabre
F-100 Super Sabre
The North American F-100 Super Sabre was a supersonic jet fighter aircraft that served with the United States Air Force from 1954 to 1971 and with the Air National Guard until 1979. The first of the Century Series collection of USAF jet fighters, it was the first USAF fighter capable of...

, F-105 Thunderchief
F-105 Thunderchief
The Republic F-105 Thunderchief, was a supersonic fighter-bomber used by the United States Air Force. The Mach 2 capable F-105 conducted the majority of strike bombing missions during the early years of the Vietnam War; it has the dubious distinction of being the only US aircraft to have been...

, F-4 Phantom II
F-4 Phantom II
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor fighter/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable,...

, F-111 Aardvark and its FB-111A strategic bomber variant, F-15E Strike Eagle
F-15E Strike Eagle
The McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle is an all-weather multirole fighter, derived from the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. The F-15E was designed in the 1980s for long-range, high speed interdiction without relying on escort or electronic warfare aircraft. United States Air Force F-15E Strike...

, F-16 Fighting Falcon
F-16 Fighting Falcon
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force . Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,400 aircraft have been built since...

, and the F/A-18 Hornet
F/A-18 Hornet
The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is a supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole fighter jet, designed to dogfight and attack ground targets . Designed by McDonnell Douglas and Northrop, the F/A-18 was derived from the latter's YF-17 in the 1970s for use by the United States Navy and...

. The B-1B Lancer
B-1 Lancer
The Rockwell B-1 LancerThe name "Lancer" is only applied to the B-1B version, after the program was revived. is a four-engine variable-sweep wing strategic bomber used by the United States Air Force...

 was also intended to carry the B43, though it remains unclear whether this particular aircraft was ever type-approved to carry the B43 prior to the B-1's reassignment to conventional strike roles. The B43 was also supplied for delivery by Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 Canberra
English Electric Canberra
The English Electric Canberra is a first-generation jet-powered light bomber manufactured in large numbers through the 1950s. The Canberra could fly at a higher altitude than any other bomber through the 1950s and set a world altitude record of 70,310 ft in 1957...

 and Valiant
Vickers Valiant
The Vickers-Armstrongs Valiant was a British four-jet bomber, once part of the Royal Air Force's V bomber nuclear force in the 1950s and 1960s...

 aircraft assigned to NATO under the command of SACEUR.

Broken Arrow

The B43 was never used in anger, but it was involved in a nuclear accident when an A-4E Skyhawk
A-4 Skyhawk
The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a carrier-capable ground-attack aircraft designed for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The delta winged, single-engined Skyhawk was designed and produced by Douglas Aircraft Company, and later McDonnell Douglas. It was originally designated the A4D...

, BuNo 151022, of the USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) (from Attack Squadron VA-56), was lost off the coast of Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 on 5 December 1965 when it rolled off an elevator , in 16,000 feet of water in the Pacific Ocean, 80 miles from one of the Ryukyu Islands
Ryukyu Islands
The , also known as the , is a chain of islands in the western Pacific, on the eastern limit of the East China Sea and to the southwest of the island of Kyushu in Japan. From about 1829 until the mid 20th century, they were alternately called Luchu, Loochoo, or Lewchew, akin to the Mandarin...

, Okinawa. name="Gibson">Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States – An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, page 130. name="Winchester">Winchester, Jim, Douglas A-4 Skyhawk: Heineman's Hot Rod. Barnsley, Yorkshire, United Kingdom: Pen & Sword Books, 2005, ISBN 1-84415-085-2, page 199. The Skyhawk was being rolled from the number 2 hangar bay to the number 2 elevator when it was lost. Airframe, pilot, LTjg D. M. Webster, and the bomb were never found. No public mention was made of the incident at the time and it would not come to light until a 1981 Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

 report revealed that a one-megaton bomb had been lost. Japan then asked for details of the incident.

Withdrawn

The B43 was phased out in the 1980s, and the last B43 weapons were retired in 1991 in favor of the newer B61
B61 nuclear bomb
The B61 nuclear bomb is the primary thermonuclear weapon in the U.S. Enduring Stockpile following the end of the Cold War. It is an intermediate yield strategic and tactical nuclear weapon featuring a two-stage radiation implosion design....

 and B83
B83 nuclear bomb
The B83 nuclear weapon is a variable yield gravity bomb developed by the United States in the late 1970s, entering service in 1983. With a maximum yield of 1.2 megatons, it is currently the most powerful atomic weapon in the US arsenal...

 weapons.

See also

  • B83 nuclear bomb
    B83 nuclear bomb
    The B83 nuclear weapon is a variable yield gravity bomb developed by the United States in the late 1970s, entering service in 1983. With a maximum yield of 1.2 megatons, it is currently the most powerful atomic weapon in the US arsenal...

  • B61 nuclear bomb
    B61 nuclear bomb
    The B61 nuclear bomb is the primary thermonuclear weapon in the U.S. Enduring Stockpile following the end of the Cold War. It is an intermediate yield strategic and tactical nuclear weapon featuring a two-stage radiation implosion design....

  • List of nuclear weapons
  • Tsetse primary
    Tsetse primary
    The Tsetse was the common design nuclear fission bomb core for several Cold War designs for American nuclear and thermonuclear weapons, according to researcher Chuck Hansen....


External links

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