Chinese thermonuclear bomb accident

Discussion in 'Military History' started by SinoSoldier, Mar 14, 2016.

  1. SinoSoldier
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    SinoSoldier Major

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    A very interesting read concerning a near-accident involving a Q-5 attack aircraft and a hydrogen bomb.

    http://www.airspacemag.com/as-interview/a-amp-s-interview-yang-guoxiang-10170841/?all&no-ist

    Video of the test:


    Photographs of the involved aircraft:
    Q5_04large.jpg
    IMG_4052.jpg

    Photograph of the KB-1 thermonuclear weapon, which was deployed by the Q-5 jet:
    174505f41blww3z1ubzp1w.jpg

    Photograph of the successful 1972 test:
    china_test.jpg
     
    #1 SinoSoldier, Mar 14, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
  2. siegecrossbow
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    siegecrossbow Brigadier
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    Where can I find the longer version of the video with cavalry charging in the backdrop?
     
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  3. SinoSoldier
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    SinoSoldier Major

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    You are referring to the video of China's first atomic bomb:

     
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  4. Inst
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    Inst Senior Member

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    Somewhat disappointing. The guy put thousands of lives at risk to save his own. He should have reported the incident, then crashed himself onto the target site.
     
  5. Bltizo
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    Bltizo Lieutenant General

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    I think saving the H bomb was more of a concern at the time.
     
  6. taxiya
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    taxiya Major
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    Quite the contrary. His request to return with the bomb was approved by the program commander.

    Everyone in that program believed and most people today still see that returning with the malfunctioned bomb is a heroic self-sacrifice act rather than saving his own life, because everyone in the program was committed to make a working bomb IN TIME with any cost including their own lives. The pilot just did what everyone in his position would do. A pilot without that commitment would not be assigned to that job.

    Remember what Field Marshal Chen Yi, the then Foreign Minister, said? "must make the bomb even it means to sale our pants".

    Things have improved in China that such sacrificed is not necessary anymore, but back then is different. We should thank our forefathers for their acts, than judging them based on 21st century's norms.

    Here is a 1981 movie about it
     
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  7. taxiya
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    taxiya Major
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    add to #6
    From a later interview, it was said that all people at the base were evacuated when the aircraft was ordered to return. Only the base commander and air controller were present in the control tower. The casualty of any events would be 3 if anything had happened.
     
  8. Inst
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    Inst Senior Member

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    He made the decision to return, and it was not rejected by the air control tower. That it was approved was in part because you don't want to argue with a dead man, and that he was allowed to fly again was because the bomb didn't blow.

    I think he took the wrong risk. A partially-successful detonation could have been played as a propaganda victory, and the explosion would still have confirmed that the bomb worked.

    ===

    Think about it this way, choosing to blow himself up makes the explosion his own problem and the failed detonation the problem of his superiors, who can try to learn, and try again. Choosing to return to base, on the other hand, endangers the rest of the base, and could have resulted in the deaths of many involved in the Chinese nuclear program. I can't imagine this decision going well with his peers.
     
  9. Bltizo
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    Bltizo Lieutenant General

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    ... would it even have been possible to just detonate the bomb without separating it from the aircraft to begin with? I don't think it would've been possible.

    So the alternative would be to either crash land the plane somewhere, or eject from the plane, and both of these options likely would've caused significant risk for the bomb's payload as well, either causing it to accidentally detonate (would that even be possible?), or causing significant damage to the bomb itself -- both options which would be adverse to the purposes of the test which is to test the bomb, and they would have to restart the first H bomb by producing a whole new one. In the likely case that the bomb didn't detonate after ditching or crash landing, well great, now you're left with an airplane in the middle of nowhere with an H bomb that may or may not be damaged and which will have to be recovered to not only figure out what went wrong with the plane and/or the bomb, but also to keep it from accidentally detonating after damage.

    .... Or, he could try landing back at the airbase with faith that the safeties on the bomb would be secure and allow them to figure out what went wrong with the proper equipment and without the bomb being damaged.


    Out of the choices he had, I think his one was correct. The risk of just crash landing or ditching the plane and complicating matters even further, along with the way that would setback the H bomb programme, I think was not worth it.
     
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  10. Inst
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    Inst Senior Member

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    "
    ... would it even have been possible to just detonate the bomb without separating it from the aircraft to begin with? I don't think it would've been possible."

    That is the question, at that time, did he know whether or not the bomb had actually armed and that an attempt to return home would be quite the blast? But from rereading the article, it looks like there was a 60-second timer associated with a G-event from deployment. He had a low risk of triggering the bomb, so it appears.
     
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