There are certain indelible images that are forever etched into the minds of most Americans. For younger generations, perhaps it is the site of the Twin Towers on fire after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. For older generations, it might be the site of the bomb being dropped on Hiroshima.
The image of that mushroom cloud flattening an entire city is unforgettable. It signaled the end of World War II as the Japanese discovered they were no match for such firepower. It also ushered in a scary period in the world’s history. Super powers, like Russia and the United States, developed these weapons, leaving many to wonder when World War III might commence.
Once the bomb started its descent, three of the safety mechanisms lost their ability. One could not be done while in drop sequence. Two others were rendered useless, due to the plane breaking up. That left one switch, within the bomb, which stood between the East Coast and certain disaster. Luckily, the switch did not activate, leaving the bomb’s payload unexploded.
It was the ultimate lucky break that the country did not see its own nuclear crisis. The incident also spelled out just how tenuous working with weapons of this nature can be. Four safety mechanisms on the bomb and only one worked. That is a scary fact to consider. One lingering question that remains is how did no one ever know this took place?
The answer is that the U.S. government hush-hushed the occurrence, sealing it into records deemed sensitive and classified. It only came to light as a result of recently declassified documents being exposed, which are part of a book written by Eric Schlosser.
Read more at Why the US experienced a near nuclear disaster in 1961