Five Men at Atomic Ground Zero

This popped up. What not to do on a sunny day in the Nevada desert.

The F-89 Fighter Fired ‘Mini’ Nuclear Bomb Rockets to Make Russia Freak,

A new design F-89J flying overhead was carrying a different and altogether deadlier payload. An approximate three-meter-long rocket with a 1.5 kiloton nuclear W25 nuclear warhead in its tip.  The rocket was designated MB-1 Genie, later renamed the AIR-2A, and popularly nicknamed the “Ding Dong.”

After a count-down, Captain Alfred Barbee triggered the rocket’s solid-fuel motor. The Genie shot forth, propelled to over three times the speed of sound during its two-second burn. Once fired Captain Alfred Barbee turned his F89 and hightailed it out of the area.

On the Ground below the detonation.

On July 19, 1957, five men stood at Ground Zero of an atomic test that was being conducted at the Nevada Test Site. This was the test of a 2KT (kiloton) MB-1 nuclear air-to-air rocket launched from an F-89 Scorpion interceptor. The nuclear missile detonated 18,000 ft above their heads.

A reel-to-reel tape recorder was present to record their experience. You can see and hear the men react to the shock wave moments after the detonation. The sound you hear on this clip is from the original reel to reel tape which is not available anywhere else.

The placard reading “Ground Zero; Population Five” was made by Colonel Arthur B. “Barney” Oldfield, the Public Information Officer for the Continental Air Defense Command in Colorado Spring who arranged for the volunteers to participate.

The five volunteers were:

Colonel Sidney Bruce

Lt. Colonel Frank P. Ball (technical advisor to the Steve Canyon tv show)

Major Norman “Bodie” Bodinger

Major John Hughes

Don Lutrel and

George Yoshitake, the cameraman (who wasn’t a volunteer)

All six present at the test were eventually diagnosed with cancer, though whether this was connected to the nuclear test is unclear.

The F-89 Fighter Fired ‘Mini’ Nuclear Bomb Rockets to Make Russia Freak (