This year passed a quite milestone, for it always seems that 51 is never quite the event that 50 makes. A single year can make quite a difference in the ways of the world though. Our very own engineerd™ gave us this retrospective last year on the statement that the simple technology of concrete could give to the world in a look at 50 years since the first Berlin Wall. Just recently I came across this newsreel from the one year anniversary of that wall, and since it is the 50th anniversary of that particular milestone, it seems appropriate to get a feel for how the Western World viewed it one year in.
Continue reading The Difference of a Year
At a place called Atomic Toasters, we can’t help but be intrigued by the various propaganda films from the atomic age of the Cold War, both for and against this source of power and weaponry. This film, produced by the National Committee on Atomic Information in 1946 attempts to portray both the horrors of atomic war, and the multi-cultural nature of the discovery of the particles and principles that make up atomic theory. According to the Internet Archive, this film, “made only one year after the end of the Second World War, it is thought to be the first “atomic scare movie”, a genre which would flourish in the U.S. throughout the next decade.”
Continue reading One World or None
In order to expand the radar early warning picket line out into the Atlantic, the US Air Force undertook a project to mount shore based radar systems on offshore platforms. Because of their similarity to the oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, they were known as the Texas Towers. A week-ish (or so) ago we took a look at the development and systems of these towers in Part 1. By summer of 1955 the first platform, TT-2, was ready for installation, and was towed out to be placed on temporary legs. Once it was jacked up into place, the permanent caisson legs could be installed.
The caissons were at least 160 feet long, with approx 48 feet embedded into the shoal, leaving 55 feet in the water, and the other 60 feet or so lifting the platform high out of the water. In addition to supporting the tower, each leg contained a 140 foot internal fluid storage tube, one filled with sea water to supply the drinking water distillation equipment. The Air Force assumed occupancy of the tower in early December of 1955, and began operation if the radars. They were able to detect targets similar to a B-47 at 50,000 feet, up to 200 nauntical miles away.¹
Continue reading Expand Your Radar Horizons (Part Deux)
Leduc 0.10 in flight
Atomic Toasters’ editorial staff are big fans of early American and British Jet-Age aircraft; and rightly so, given the extraordinary machines they produced. However, we tend to overlook another innovative power of that era: France. Continue reading Leduc 0.10
It is Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! here at the house of Speed, and like most mornings I am starting the day with my delicious friend coffee. Did somebody say coffee? How about a 60′s history of coffee!
Continue reading Coffee Talk
Upon the conclusion of WWII, the US, and her allies that became NATO, quickly found themselves in an accelerating arms race with the evil superpower nemesis that was the USSR. In the beginning of what became the Cold War, much of the tactics and strategy revolved around expanding the lessons and technology that won the war for the forces of truth, justice, and the American way1. Ballistic missile technology was much in its infancy, as was the atomic bomb. In the interim as these new ideas were being developed, the long-range strategic bomber was the national defense asset of choice.
Building on the lessons learned conducting long range, high altitude campaigns against Japan and Germany, both the US and the Russians began investing heavily in bomber fleets that could reach the other superpower from bases at home. The problem then became knowing that the other guy was coming, so that opposing fleets could be quickly rallied and sent out in response, and so that defense fighters could be scrambled to try and stop the threat. Given the geography of the problem, and the nature of our spherical world, the likely shortest distance attacks would come from the north, and so much effort was made to create and early warning radar picket line, and then quickly expand that line farther and farther as the technologies became available. One such development the increase the capability of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line was the Texas Towers–large search and height finding radars mounted on oil drilling platforms out along the northeastern Atlantic seaboard.
Continue reading Expand Your Radar Horizons (Part 1)
One early spring morning back in 1958, a B-47 from Hunter Air Force Base, located outside of Savannah, Georgia took to the skies, bound for bonny England. The mission was part of Operation Snow Flurry, a “Unit Simulated Combat Mission and Special Weapons Exercise.” Making up the flight crew were Capt. Earl Koehler, pilot; Capt. Charles Woodruff, co-pilot; Capt. Bruce Kulka, navigator/bombardier; and crew chief Sgt. Robert Screptock. The ‘special’ weapon, as you might guess, was a nuclear bomb, the Mark 6. The aircraft, along with 3 others from the 375th Bombardment Squadron, was going to carry the weapon with them on the trip to Bruntingthorpe Air Base, England, and conduct a practice bomb run over England before landing to end an 18 hour day. However, the mission did not exactly work out as planned, and the bomb never made it out of the United States. In fact, you might say it became a pemanent fixture in the landscape.
Continue reading You Dropped a Bomb on Me!
How would you like to design your own planes, without all that pesky mess about an engineering degree and being certified and blah, blah, blah? Well the Pyro Company has just the thing for you! In this ad from a 1960 Boys’ Life magazine, see just what you can do with this set. Using the “Design-A-Matic” computer and the interchangeable kit components, design and build over 4000 different jet fighter aircraft. Even validated by the ultimate authority, the Remington Rand Univac Division of the Sperry Rand Corporation!
Continue reading Boys’ Life: Pyro-Techniques
In a slight departure from the book-like focus that the brief run of Toasters Reads has had, today’s entry is more of a longish short story, a novella if you will. The story is KILLDOZER!, a definite classic from the pen of Theodore Sturgeon. Written in 1944 (revised in 1959) and originally published in the November issue of Astounding magazine, this tale is an excellent science fiction yarn.
The plot is not hard to discern, given the imagery of the one word title. In a world that existed before our world, in a time long before our time, beings of energy that could control mechanical machines evolved. Somehow one of these beings has survived, and…well, while you can quietly guess where this is going, the story is well written and will pull you in. I am certainly no expert on early science fiction, but KILLDOZER!, is one of the oldest ‘Ghost in the Machine’ sci fi tales that I have read. Many later works, both within and outside of the sci fi realm seem to owe inspiration at the least to this story.
Continue reading Toasters Reads: KILLDOZER!