Arranged similarly to several of our ‘space’ titles, with an introductory section explaining the principles behind nuclear physics and how the work of physicists from the beginning of the 20th century underpinned the science used in the late 1930s to design the atomic bomb. Following sections carry the reader through the design and evolution of nuclear weapons, including the introduction of the “hydrogen” bomb, greater in destructive potential compared to the atom bomb as the atom bomb was compared to conventional high explosives. The final sections cover the development of launch platforms from land, sea and air-based systems.
Chapter 1: The new physics (1907–1942)
How the principles behind atomic weapons were unravelled in several places during the early decades of the 20th century, opening the way to expectations of nuclear energy for electrical power and for weapons. The driving forces behind the decision to build a bomb.
Chapter 2: Development and test of the first atom bombs (1942–1945)
How work at Los Alamos focused on producing an atomic bomb using the separate ”gun” and “implosion” methods, the test in July 1945 in New Mexico, and the selection of each type for the separate targets of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Explains their respective designs, with cutaway drawings and images, and takes the reader through the sequence of events, by milliseconds, which take place at detonation.
Chapter 3: The “Super” (1951–present)
Explains how in the early 1950s the thermonuclear hydrogen bomb (the so-called super-bomb) emerged from the atomic bomb, and then how simultaneously miniaturisation resulted in a complete repackaging which enabled a very much wider diversity of nuclear munitions for application to artillery, tanks, anti-aircraft missiles, naval mines and torpedoes, as well as allowing new generations of tactical nuclear weapons to emerge. Details the new generation, and identifies and describes each one, adding to the description of the detonation sequence of events in milliseconds described for the atom bomb in chapter 2.
Chapter 4: The Big Stick (1948–present)
A parody on the quote from President Theodore Roosevelt (“Walk softly but carry a big stick!”) this chapter introduces the strategic delivery systems for nuclear weapons which began (1948) with manned bombers in the air, and eventually (from 1959) included intercontinental missiles on land and at sea. The nuclear triad, as it became known, was a hedge against any one delivery system suffering from a universal technical fault disabling any one leg. Includes the specific nuclear weapons developed for these systems.
Chapter 5: Nuclear Weapons Effects (1945–present)
Analyses, describes and illustrates the three primary effects of an explosive nuclear detonation: blast; heat; radiation. The effects of the electromagnetic pulse are also described and illustrated with the consequences that nuclear testing resulted in loss of electrical power, “frying” of satellites in space and loss of radio communication. Also illustrates various methods of protection using diagrams, charts and tables.
Chapter 6: Nuclear Deterrence (1948–present)
Examines with diagrams, charts and tables (for clarity) how the changing shape of nuclear deterrence has shifted from massive bombs threatening civilian populations (1950s), to miniaturised bombs for targeting military facilities (1960s), to a balance of forces using a mix of large, medium and small nuclear munitions for a wide range of operational scenarios. Explains the failed options of rail-mobile systems, the “pea-under-the-shell” plan – placing missiles in only 10% of silos (thus massively magnifying the number of potential targets for the enemy to address), to arsenals shaped by arms-control agreements.
Chapter 7: Design Diversity (1960–present)
Dr. David Baker, an Englishman, worked with NASA on the Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle programmes between 1965 and 1990 and has written more than 80 books on spaceflight technology. His previous titles for Haynes include NASA Mars Rovers Manual, International Space Station Manual, and NASA Space Shuttle Manual. He lives in East Sussex.