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From: (Henry Spencer)
Newsgroups: alt.war.nuclear,,sci.physics
Subject: Re: Anti Matter Triggered Fusion?
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 03:51:04 GMT

In article <7l0uia$dr5$>,
Jim Hawthorne <> wrote:
>...Uncle Sam did try one such aircraft, looking into the idea of a
>nuclear powered B-force in the Fifties, but the same physical limitations
>came into play...  Also the time spent reaching such
>velocity would have been so slow, that a number of airfields may have been
>target Ground Zeros, by the time the nuclear powered aircraft may have
>cleared airfield controlled airspace!

With nuclear-powered bombers, the answer to that would have been easy:
airborne alert.  An aircraft that doesn't run out of fuel doesn't *have*
to sit on the ground until Red Alert sounds.

What ultimately killed the nuclear-aircraft program was not so much the
practical problems -- especially for a military aircraft, with a small
crew in a small cabin, they could probably have been handled if people had
wanted to badly enough -- but the vast improvements in jet engines.  The
whole point of nuclear propulsion was longer range.  But while people were
trying to figure out how to build nuclear aircraft, others were hard at
work improving jets... and the jet people made much faster progress.

The outlook for long-range jet aircraft in 1945 looked limited; there was
wide consensus that anything long-range (then defined as more than, say,
1,000 miles) would have to have propellers.  A 5,000-mile range for a
bomber looked like a big challenge even so.  Then came high-pressure
turbojets.  Then turbofans.  Then high-bypass turbofans.  Standard
production jetliners, loaded up with passengers and freight, now have
ranges of 8,000+ miles. The final B-52 version had a 12,000-mile range,
plus it was fitted for flight refueling.  (And if you re-engined those
tired old aircraft with modern high-bypass engines, the range without
refueling would be 18,000 miles or more.)
The good old days                   |  Henry Spencer
weren't.                            |      (aka

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