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

January 31, 1958 - Overseas Base

DOD: A B-47 with one weapon in strike configuration was making a simulated takeoff during an exercise alert. When the aircraft reached approximately 30 knots on the runway, the left rear wheel casting failed. The tail struck the runway and a fuel tank ruptured. The aircraft caught fire and burned for seven hours. Firemen fought the fire for the allotted ten minutes fire fighting time for high explosive contents of that weapon, then evacuated the area. The high explosive did not detonate, but there was some contamination in the immediate area of the crash. After the wreckage and the asphalt beneath it were removed and the runway washed down, no contamination was detected. One fire truck and one fireman's clothing showed slight alpha contamination until washed. Following the accident, exercise alerts were temporarily suspended and B-47 wheels were checked for defects.

CDI: The crash might have taken place at a U.S. air base in Sidi Slimane, French Morocco. An earlier Air Force document reported, "Contamination of the wreckage was high, but that of the surrounding area was low."The New York Times of June 8, 1960 mentions a nuclear weapons accident having occurred "at a United States field near Tripoli, Libya," but gives no date.

NSA documents one and two, insert more thoroughly later.


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