In 1958, in the early morning hours of February 5th, a Boeing B-47E Stratojet bomber was flying off Tybee Island, Georgia, on the Atlantic coast, near Savannah. It was one of two aircraft coming home from a successful training mission which simulated dropping a nuclear bomb on Moscow, and I don’t mean Idaho. They didn’t know they had become the “target” of a new training mission, launched from Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina, to simulate intercepting bombers attacking the United States. It collided with an F-86H fighter jet because the pilot of the jet, although he saw the first B-47 on his radar screen, he did not see the B-47 above him. The pilot was able to eject from the damaged fighter plane before it crashed. The crew of the bomber, still aloft, but barely, asked for permission to jettison their cargo in preparation for a crash landing. Their payload was a 7,600 pound, 12-foot long, Mark 15 hydrogen bomb! WTF
At 7,200 feet, running 200 mph, they jettisoned the bomb. The Mark 15 landed in the water and didn’t, thank God, detonate. The aircraft safely landed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah. They searched for the bomb for 10 days without any luck and it has never been found. The water around the drop site is relatively shallow and it is believed that the bomb is buried in 5 to 15 feet of mud and silt.
A Mark 15 is 100 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. The nuclear capsule that detonates it was removed from the device before the training mission. Wait a minute. If the nuclear capsule was removed and the bomb couldn’t be detonated, why did they have to drop the bomb in the waters off of Tybee Island? The Air Force claimed they were worried about the bomb exploding in a crash landing, but it also added a lot of weight to the damaged aircraft. The pilot later said “if we crashed, it would come forward through the crew area like a bullet through a gun barrel.”
The military has a code for a mishap involving a nuclear device. They call them “Broken Arrows.” I could have come up with a better name. Something like “Oh My FG”