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A History of Weapons and Delivery Systems since 1945
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781557506818
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Era: Cold War
  • Number of Pages: 240
  • Subject: History
  • Date Available: July 2009
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Full Description:

The atomic bomb ended the war against Japan in 1945 and became the centerpiece of U.S. and Soviet military strategy for the next 45 years. In the late 1940s the debate over whether the atomic bomb was the ultimate arbitrator of international differences led to the infamous carrier-versus-B-36 controversy in American defense policy; American school children in the 1950s practiced "duck and cover" as many feared an atomic attack against American cities; and billions were spent to develop and procure vast fleets of B-36, B-47, and Bâ€'52 nuclear bombers, that led to a still-alive legacy that is seen in the current B-1 and the B-2 stealth bombers.  

In this comprehensive work, two leading weapons experts present a complete and fully up-to-date history of the development of U.S. nuclear weapons and detailed descriptions of the entire American nuclear arsenal, including the variety of systems capable of delivering them. Illustrated with more than 100 b/w photographs, the authors describe all of the nuclear weapons developed by the U.S, including the Army's 280-mm atomic cannon, atomic demolitions, and the atomic ""grenade"" launcher, along with the Navy's development of a carrier-based nuclear strike capability. Details are provided of the Navy's ASTOR nuclear torpedo, the 16-inch nuclear projectiles for the Iowa-class battleships, and the Navy's drone helicopter designed to carry a nuclear depth charge. In addition, they discuss the nuclear missiles and rockets carried by the air-defense fighters within the United States and the nuclear-armed surface-to-air missiles ringing major U.S. cities and military bases. This new work is certain to be considered the definitive study of the subject.
Norman Polmar, a well-known defense analyst, has written on nuclear weapons development for the U.S. Navy, Department of Energy, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and Defense Nuclear Agency.  He is the author of more than forty books including the Naval Institute's reference books Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet and Guide to the Soviet Navy.
Robert S. Norris is senior research associate at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, DC, and the primary contributor to the council's series of Nuclear Weapon Databooks. He coauthors a column on nuclear weapons in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and is the author of the award-winning book Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, the Manhattan Project's Indispensable Man.

“This book provides a useful analysis of nuclear weapons deployed by the United States on land, sea, and in the air from the end of the Second World War until 2009. Given the current effort to restore the focus on the nuclear mission degraded since the end of the Cold War and the Obama administration’s stated commitment to disarmament, publication of The U.S. Nuclear Arsenal is timely indeed. While some readers might find parts of the book discomfiting, Norman Polmar and Robert S. Norris provide an informed perspective worth serious consideration.”

Air Force Research Institute

"This book is highly recommended as a useful guide to the development of nuclear weapons over the six decades since the end of World war II."

Air Power History Magazine, Herman S. Wolk, Senior Historian (Ret.) Office of Air Force History

“This is more than a well-written and researched reference book, but also an examination by experts of the evolution of nuclear weapons policy. When you absolutely need to know everything about how, why and where a US nuclear warhead and its delivery system was developed, this is the book you must have.”

— Naval Historical Foundation

Norman Polmar is an internationally known analyst, consultant, and award-winning author specializing in the naval, aviation, and intelligence areas. He has participated in or directed major studies in these areas for the U.S. Department of Defense and Navy, and served as a consultant to U.S. and foreign commercial firms and government agencies. He has been an advisor or consultant on naval issues to three U.S. Secretaries of the Navy and two Chiefs of Naval Operations, as well as to three U.S. Senators and a Speaker of the House of Representatives. He is the author or coauthor of more than 50 published books, including nine editions of Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet and four editions of Guide to the Soviet Navy as well as U.S. Nuclear Arsenal, Ship Killer, and Project Azorian. Mr. Polmar writes regularly for Proceedings and was a columnist for the magazine for over thirty-eight years. He also writes for Naval History magazine. Polmar is a resident of Alexandria, VA.

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Average Customer Reviews
4.00 Stars
Much More than a Reference Book
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
By: James Bryant, Captain USN (Retired)

This is more than a well written and researched reference book, but also an examination by experts of the evolution of nuclear weapons policy. When you absolutely need to know everything about how, why and where a US nuclear warhead and its delivery system was developed this is the book you must have. You are spared the technical details, like nuclear physics, but you get a basic understanding of how the warhead reached the target, avoided countermeasures, and the expected damage. Some examples of these fascinating details follow. The rapid development of nuclear weapons delivery technology is presented from its beginnings with the German World War II V-1 (Buzz Bomb) and V-2 rocket designs. The US Army produced an operational German V-1 cruise missile a month after they were used to attack England in June 1944. The design was copied and put into production, but this stockpile was not needed after Japan surrendered. This allowed these “jet bombs” to be used as test platforms for the development of nuclear and conventionally armed cruise missiles including the submarine launched Regulus, the land launched Snark and the Tomahawk. The first Intercontinental Missile was the strategic cruise missile Snark (Snark is a Lewis Carroll fictional creature from the 1876 book, that survives in modern usage as “snarky”). The 10-year troubled, test program led to so many Snark crashes near Cape Canaveral, FL that these waters became known as “Snark infested.” The only operational Snark Wing was retired in June 1961 just one year after the first missile went on alert. Sometimes these programs went to the extreme, even bizarre. In 1955 the Secretary of Defense directed that Jupiter-S liquid fueled Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles be designed for seaborne launch. The submarine version was proposed to carry three missiles in the middle section where the sail would help accommodate the 50 foot long missiles. The plan to fit these large, liquid-fueled missiles in a submarine that had to surface to launch them only seems bizarre (interesting drawing on page 184). This plan is exactly what the Soviets used in their GOLF and HOTEL class ballistic missile submarines (see Cold War Submarines by Norman Polmar and Kenneth Moore). The Pluto Supersonic Low-Altitude Missile (SLAM) does achieve the bizarre status with its nuclear ramjet engine. This “unmanned bomber” was supposed to cruise at Mach 3 speeds at tree top levels over the Soviet Union while tossing out hydrogen bombs. The program was cancelled in 1964 after spending 320 million dollars because of radiation issues involving the nuclear-powered ramjet. After commanding Guardfish (SSN 612) at the end of the Cold War.

Captain Bryant was a Deputy Commander of Submarine Squadron 11 before being assigned to the Political-Military Division of the Navy Staff.



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