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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mark I

Bikini Atoll
South Pacific
07:23 hours

The fireball rose in the classic manner we all have come to fear and admire. The stem of the mushroom and blast of light and heat, followed by visible rings of concussion are a sight to behold on a movie screen. You do not want to experience them in person. A handful of army personnel did just that. The cap of the mushroom was reaching for the sky, pulsing with light and energy, visible energy reaching out to destroy all in its path. The trouble with this atomic explosion was that it was totally unexpected. It shocked the thousands of spectators and scientists floating at a safe distance out in the Pacific Ocean far from prying eyes but not far enough that the pens of hundreds of reporters could be stopped.

Months before the world’s supply of polonium 210 ended up in the lungs and organs of tens of thousands of American nuclear scientists, their friends, families and other innocent victims. Much of the polonium was buried six foot under along with the bodies of its victims in caskets lined with lead and covered in dirt, flowers and tears. The American nuclear scientific community was devastated and barely existed. New students were being taught by more experienced students but the professors, were for the most part dead. They had died an excruciatingly painful death that they had designed for others.  Much like the ones their work had visited on the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Their students had cobbled together enough material for 6 more atomic bombs. There were enough parts left in the assembly rooms and nuclear storage areas to fashion even more atomic bombs.  From these bits and pieces they had fashioned one Mark I atomic bomb which was on its way to be dropped on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. In the target area were dozens of surplus ships. The test had been originally scheduled for July, 1946. Then the war broke out. The plan was code named Operation Crossroads.

The original operation was to prove or disprove theories about the survivability of naval vessels during an atomic attack. The ships were to be anchored and filled with live animals and supplies etc. that would be studied after the explosions to determine if naval personnel and their ships could function after being subjected to the power of atomic fission. Some saw it as a test for the very survival of the US Navy and it’s relevance in a world filled with atomic destruction.

The atoll’s inhabitants, some 167 Bikini islanders, were convinced using prophecies of the bible, to leave their island paradise and were moved out of harm’s way. The purpose of the tests had been altered and many of the ships and the preparations that would have occurred were hastily forgotten. Now the test was to be of the Mark I atomic bomb.  The design was inherently dangerous and that is why the Mark III had been designed using polonium 210 as a major part of the weapon. The Mark III Tall Boy was considered much safer the Mark I.

Many things could go wrong with the Mark I and many things could make it prematurely explode either conventionally or in an atomic explosion. The Mark I was the bomb that everyone knew would work because of its simplicity. The Mark III was somewhat of a question mark until Nagasaki. Because of its significant improvement in safety the Mark III using polonium 210 was the bomb destined to fill America’s nuclear arsenal and not the much more dangerous Mark I. That was until George Koval used the world’s supply of polonium to sabotage the US atomic weapons program.

So the students of the original designers and engineers who brought the world the Mark III atomic bomb had to improvise and the Mark I was their answer… or so they thought. The reason the Mark I is so dangerous is because any number of things can go catastrophically wrong. A simple electrical short, getting hit by lightning, getting wet or a fire could set it off. No one knows what happened aboard the bomber. The former student of Robert Oppenheim during one of his rare semesters teaching at Caltech, had designed the trigger mechanism. He had never assembled it before in earnest. This would be his first attempt under simulated combat conditions and he apparently failed his test.

30 miles out from the target the B29 Silverplate exploded in a nuclear fireball over the Pacific Ocean. If the Bikini test had not been scheduled no one would have seen what happened. But they were 289 reporters from the NATO countries that did see it happen. Although far enough away to not suffer any immediate harm some were not yet prepared and did not have their special glasses on and did suffer temporary effects to their eyes. Luckily, and by design, no one or nothing was in the ingress path of the B29 Silverplate bomber named Bockscar. No one but the crew and the assembly person were immediately harmed. The nuclear program of the United States of America would not survive, however.

The lethal list of US nuclear accidents become public knowledge and included…

2 September 1944
Peter Bragg and Douglas Paul Meigs, two Manhattan Project chemists, were killed when their attempt to unclog a tube in a uranium enrichment device led to an explosion of radioactive uranium hexafluoride gas exploded at the Naval Research Laboratory in Philadelphia, PA. The explosion ruptured nearby steam pipes, leading to a gas and steam combination that bathed the men in a scalding, radioactive, acidic cloud of gas which killed them a short while later.

21 August 1945
Harry K. Daghlian Jr. was killed during the final stages of the Manhattan Project (undertaken at Los Alamos, New Mexico to develop the first atomic bomb) from a radiation burst released when a critical assembly of fissile material was accidentally brought together by hand. The accident occurred during a procedure known as "tickling the dragon's tail").

21 May 1946 A critical  nuclear accident occurred at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico. Eight people were exposed to radiation, and one, Louis Slotin, died nine days later of acute radiation sickness.

13 July 1946
The Soviet spy know as Delmar (George Koval)  releases polonium 210 by timed explosions during two separate gatherings of nuclear scientists and engineers in Dayton, OH and Oak Ridge, TN. The world’s only supply of polonium kills hundreds of America’s top scientists as well as killing and sickening tens of thousands of others who come in contact with the scientists.

Add to this our latest nuclear fiasco and combine that with the images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the American public has had enough and more importantly Harry Truman has had enough. All nuclear weapons production ceases.

On a side note there will be 5 additional nuclear explosions before the nuclear gene is put back into its bottle. As I write this I suspect that the world will be a quite different place without the nuclear bomb. Quite different indeed than it would have been if this height of insanity and evil had run it’s course and been allowed to proliferate throughout the world. Only time will tell if I am right or wrong. It would be interesting, to say the least, if we had a parallel universe in which to compare the two paths. One now decided upon in our universe and one filled with the unimaginable horror of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. Perhaps enough to even destroy the world itself.  


  1. I remember this joke from AH and armchair generals. This is a fucking joke of a story, but I'm impressed you've done this much. Poorly researched and involving a lot of scifi handwavium, but impressive in size if nothing else.