B57 nuclear bomb
The B57 nuclear bomb was a tactical nuclear weapon
Tactical nuclear weapon
A tactical nuclear weapon refers to a nuclear weapon which is designed to be used on a battlefield in military situations. This is as opposed to strategic nuclear weapons which are designed to menace large populations, to damage the enemy's ability to wage war, or for general deterrence...

 developed by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...


Entering production in 1963 as the Mk 57, the bomb was designed to be dropped from high-speed tactical aircraft. It had a streamlined casing to withstand supersonic
Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

 flight. It was 3 m (9 ft 10 in) long, with a diameter of about 37.5 cm (14.75 in). Basic weight was approximately 227 kilograms (500 lbs).

Some versions of the B57 were equipped with a parachute retarder (a 3.8 m/12.5 ft diameter nylon
Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers known generically as polyamides, first produced on February 28, 1935, by Wallace Carothers at DuPont's research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station...

Kevlar is the registered trademark for a para-aramid synthetic fiber, related to other aramids such as Nomex and Technora. Developed at DuPont in 1965, this high strength material was first commercially used in the early 1970s as a replacement for steel in racing tires...

 ribbon parachute) to slow the weapon's descent, allowing the aircraft to escape the blast (or to allow the weapon to survive impact with the ground in laydown mode) at altitudes as low as 15 m (50 ft). Various fuzing
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...

 modes were available, including a hydrostatic fuze for use as a depth charge
Depth charge
A depth charge is an anti-submarine warfare weapon intended to destroy or cripple a target submarine by the shock of exploding near it. Most use explosives and a fuze set to go off at a preselected depth in the ocean. Depth charges can be dropped by either surface ships, patrol aircraft, or from...

 for anti-submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...


The B57 was produced in six versions (mods) with explosive yields ranging from 5 to 20 kilotons. Mod 0 was 5 kT, Mod 1 and Mod 2 were 10 kT, Mod 3 and Mod 4 were 15 KT, and Mod 5 was 20 kT. The depth bomb version of the B57, for the U.S. Navy, replaced the Mk 101 Lulu and had selectable yield up to 10 kT.

The B57 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 core design, shared with several other mid- and late-1950s designs.

The B57 was produced from 1963 to 1967. After 1968, the weapon became known as the B57 rather than the Mk 57. 3,100 weapons were built, the last of which was retired in June 1993.

The B57 could be deployed by most U.S. fighter
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

, bomber
A bomber is a military aircraft designed to attack ground and sea targets, by dropping bombs on them, or – in recent years – by launching cruise missiles at them.-Classifications of bombers:...

 and Navy antisubmarine warfare and patrol aircraft (S-3 Viking
S-3 Viking
The Lockheed S-3 Viking is a four-seat twin-engine jet aircraft that was used by the U.S. Navy to identify, track, and destroy enemy submarines. In the late 1990s, the S-3B's mission focus shifted to surface warfare and aerial refueling. The Viking also provided electronic warfare and surface...

 and P-3 Orion
P-3 Orion
The Lockheed P-3 Orion is a four-engine turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft developed for the United States Navy and introduced in the 1960s. Lockheed based it on the L-188 Electra commercial airliner. The aircraft is easily recognizable by its distinctive tail stinger or...

), and by some U.S. Navy helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

s including the SH-3 Sea King. The B57 was also deployed with Canada's CF-104s
Canadair CF-104
The Canadair CF-104 Starfighter was a modified version of the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter supersonic fighter aircraft built in Canada by Canadair under licence...

 in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, and the 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...

's Nimrod from St Mawgan in the UK and Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

in the Mediterranean.

External links

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