The Broken Arrow Project: Visualizing the Dangers of Maintaining the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

April 11, 1950 -- Manzano Base, New Mexico

DOD: Aircraft departed Kirtland AFB at 9:38 p.m. and crashed into a mountain on Manzano Base approximately three minutes later killing the crew. Detonators were installed in the bomb on board the aircraft. The bomb case was demolished and some high explosive (HE) material burned in the gasoline fire. Other pieces of unburned HE were scattered throughout the wreckage. Four spare detonators in their carrying case were recovered undamaged. There were no contamination or recovery problems. The recovered components of the weapon were returned to the Atomic Energy Commission. Both the weapon and the capsule of nuclear material were on board the aircraft but the capsule was not inserted for safety reasons. A nuclear detonation was not possible.

CDI: The New York Times reported the B-29 crashed in a "remote secret area of Sandia Special Weapons Base . . . and burned, shooting up flames visible for fifteen miles." Manzano Mountain was used as a "dead storage" site where outmoded weapons were stored. The B-29 was the United States' first nuclear delivery aircraft and comprised the majority of our strategic bomber force through 1952. The Enola Gay was a B-29 which dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. By June 1948 only 32 B-29s were modified to deliver nuclear weapons. All were assigned to the 509th Bomb Group. The B-29 was operational from 1943-1954; 3970 were built.

(Look into opening of Manzano base on April 4th, 1950. Try to find more concrete sources than

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