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US planned to blow up the MOON with a nuclear bomb to win Cold War bragging rights over USSR
Daily Mail (U.K.) ^ | 25 November 2012 | Daily Mail Reporter

Posted on 11/25/2012 4:28:28 PM PST by DogByte6RER

Revealed: How the U.S. planned to blow up the MOON with a nuclear bomb to win Cold War bragging rights over Soviet Union

- Scientists were hoping for giant flash on the moon that would intimidate the Soviet Union

- Aim of mission was to launch the nuke by 1959

- Plan was later scrapped due to possible danger to people on Earth

It may sound like a plot straight out of a science fiction novel, but a U.S. mission to blow up the moon with a nuke was very real in the 1950s.

At the height of the space race, the U.S. considered detonating an atom bomb on the moon as a display of America's Cold War muscle.

The secret project, innocuously titled 'A Study of Lunar Research Flights' and nicknamed 'Project A119,' was never carried out

However, its planning included calculations by astronomer Carl Sagan, then a young graduate student, of the behavior of dust and gas generated by the blast.

Viewing the nuclear flash from Earth might have intimidated the Soviet Union and boosted U.S. confidence after the launch of Sputnik, physicist Leonard Reiffel told the AP in a 2000 interview.

Reiffel, now 85, directed the inquiry at the former Armour Research Foundation, now part of the Illinois Institute of Technology. He later served as a deputy director at NASA.

Sagan, who later became renowned for popularizing science on television, died in 1996.

The author of one of Sagan's biographies suggested that he may have committed a security breach in 1959 after revealing the classified project in an academic fellowship application. Reiffel concurred.

Under the scenario, a missile carrying a small nuclear device was to be launched from an undisclosed location and travel 238,000 miles to the moon, where it would be detonated upon impact.

(Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...


TOPICS: Astronomy; Chit/Chat; History; Military/Veterans; Miscellaneous; Science; Weird Stuff
KEYWORDS: 1950s; atomicbomb; braggingrights; coldwar; doctorstrangelove; fatman; moon; nuclearwarfare; nukes; nukethemoon; sovietunion; thebomb; ussr
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To: cripplecreek

I suppose just as long as your gyroscope is big enough to handle that much instantaneous energy release. “Where are we headed?” “How the F*** would I know?”


51 posted on 11/25/2012 5:17:11 PM PST by bigheadfred
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To: HiTech RedNeck

We wouldn’t do much more than leave a shallow scorched crater on the moon that probably wouldn’t be visible with the naked eye.


52 posted on 11/25/2012 5:19:26 PM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: DogByte6RER

what if the big day arrives and its cloudy over the soviet union and no one can see? ever think of that?


53 posted on 11/25/2012 5:19:48 PM PST by beebuster2000
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To: cripplecreek
Some of it would fall back; but the escape velocity from the Moon is so low that much or most (I certainly don't know how much) would escape the Moon, but not the Earth-Moon system.

I am guessing that thousands of tons of fine ejecta would circulate around the Earth and Moon for many years, with a small percentage getting captured by Earth and its atmosphere every year, day, week, hour, or what have you. It is not clear to me if this would be a significant loading of our exoatmosphere with radionuclides. It would lose its radioactivity at about the speed of any Earthbound nuke site.

54 posted on 11/25/2012 5:20:05 PM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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To: Revolting cat!

Heh-heh-heh, you sly dog. That was on Mars, silly!


55 posted on 11/25/2012 5:22:33 PM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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Thanks DogByte6RER. This story is bullsh!t. There was never a “plan” to do this, but some jackass or small number of jackasses in the Pentagon suggested this as a really good idea. It was roundly rejected at the time because it was both stupid and counterproductive. And in 1959, Eisenhower was still in his “everything is provocative” mode; in 1960 he kiboshed the US’ orbiting a probe, requiring that the top stage was non-functional. As if a suborbital rocket was less provocative. What a Peter Principle Success Story that guy was.

Sidebar — Von Braun’s F1 engine was developed for the DoD, as a delivery system for the Teller H-Bomb, which was a huge-assed design. The B-52 was also conceived as a delivery system for the Teller bomb. Turned out that a smaller H-bomb design was successfully tested and developed instead, but the B-52 went into production. The successfully engineered F1 was cancelled, but Von Braun managed to take it along with him as he sought support for a Moon program. He didn’t get it until JFK got tired of being shown up by the “(blankity-blank) Russians”. Not long after, Von Braun said in an article or interview that the upper stages of the Apollo would be 100% cryo, and the Soviet rocketmaster Sergei Korolev scorned the idea, claiming that the problems would be too much for Von Braun to solve.

The next time Korolev read about Von Braun’s 100% cryo engines, they were being successfully tested on the test stand. The USSR had lost the Moon race, just like that, even assuming that their approach would have worked. Korolev died in 1966; his N-1 booster with its dozens of engines never had a successful flight test, and according to one guy involved in the project, never even made it to the test stand most of the time.


56 posted on 11/25/2012 5:23:53 PM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: DogByte6RER

The public should laugh the author of the article and the tabloid right off of the Internet for their sheer mendacious stupidity and scaremongering tactics.

As the article noted, the proposal is supposedd to have been a fission atomic bomb and not a fusion hydrogen bomb, because the missiles of the time were incapable of launching the extremely heavy hydrogen bombs of the day. This means the explosion would have been a sub-megaton yield similar to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki detonations. Such explosions would have been detectable on the Earth, but only by observers ready and waiting to observe a flash nearly too small to see and lasting for little more than a second in time. Since the Moon has practically no atmosphere, the blast effects would have been far less than those which occurred on the Earth. There would have resulted a very small crater, barely detectable with telescopes from the Earth.

The headline’s scaremongering about “blowing up the Moon” is as outrageous as it is utterly ridiculous. The Moon is routinely punished with impacts releasing far more explosive energy than such a small atomic bomb, and no one ever notices those explosions. The Moon far from being blown up or destroyed would hardly notice such an insignicantly tiny event in comparison to its history of impacts.

Everyone needs to laugh the author out of the business.


57 posted on 11/25/2012 5:26:58 PM PST by WhiskeyX
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To: driftdiver
"Nuking mecca would be better."

Start with Iran.
58 posted on 11/25/2012 5:27:05 PM PST by outofsalt ("If History teaches us anything it's that history rarely teaches us anything")
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To: BenLurkin
Major Kong, Major Kong rides The Bomb in Dr. Strangelove
59 posted on 11/25/2012 5:27:25 PM PST by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: NonValueAdded
For all anyone knew in the 1950s, the moon was made of green cheese. They could have just sent a million mice up there to devour it...if that would have impressed the Russians.

Of course poets would have been upset, along with other earthlings, if the moon had disappeared from the sky.

60 posted on 11/25/2012 5:28:45 PM PST by Verginius Rufus
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Some make more than one donation
Many make none

61 posted on 11/25/2012 5:29:42 PM PST by RedMDer (Please support Toys for Tots this CHRISTmas season.)
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To: DogByte6RER

Sound like BS to me. Its like news report that say US have plans about invading Australia


62 posted on 11/25/2012 5:30:20 PM PST by 4rcane
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To: DogByte6RER

To paraphrase Bugs Bunny; “What a Maroon!”

OK, that is a nice over-the-top hysterical hyperbole even for a London tabloid. Start with simple physics, it takes a great BIG ROCKET to get anything to the Moon. The Soviets did hit the Moon with Luna 2 in 1959 and that weighed 860 lbs. but we have to remember the fact that the USSR did have better throw-weight rockets than we did. Our best rockets at that time were the Atlas and Titan series and it took until 1962 for the Ranger 4 (806 lbs.) to actually hit the Moon [Atlas-Agena Rocket]!

Anybody care to guess what the lightest A-Bomb was at that time? I don’t know but I am willing to guess it was far more than 500 lbs. and then add G-Force resistance and an instrument package capable of controlling even a ballistic radar fused bomb would put it over the top there for that time period.

So what we have is an idiot newspaper looking at an old “blue sky project” and an even greater idiot writing the headline and introduction. Really stuck on stupid!


63 posted on 11/25/2012 5:34:09 PM PST by SES1066 (Government is NOT the reason for my existence but it is the road to our ruin!)
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To: cripplecreek
The light from the blast itself would certainly be brightly visible.

The first nukes that were exploded on Earth in July and August 1945 were bright enough to cause a reflected flash on the Moon visible to Earthbound observers.

I don't know if the Moon was in the right position to catch the flash on those particular occasions, but Richard Rhodes in The Making of the Atomic Bomb wrote about it as if this had indeed happened. I have not seen it recorded that anyone was actually looking at the Moon at those instants; possibly on some of the later scheduled tests.

64 posted on 11/25/2012 5:34:59 PM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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To: DogByte6RER

FAKE!!!! Project A119 wasn’t the moon....It was Venus! Everybody knows it was Project A118 that was the moon. After John Glenn planted the bomb on the moon he returned and was fished out of the Pacific by that German aircraft carrier, (the one that had just launched the 1922 attack on Pearl Harbor). He filled FOX news in and so there ya go. THAT is how Project A118 was first known about. (Also, project A119 is still classified top secret so don’t blab it to any of those screwball FReepers, you know how they are!!).


65 posted on 11/25/2012 5:43:59 PM PST by bobby.223 (Retired up in the snowy mountains of the American Redoubt and it's a GREAT life!)
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To: DogByte6RER
This just came to me and is a superior answer to my #63 post ...

Ever hear of a "Blue Sky" Project? It starts by imagining infinite money and ability thrown at a given goal - "Can it be done?" This is what "A Study of Lunar Research Flights" was and is. Every government has these and they are great fun and serve a useful purpose of challenging assumptions and old dictums.

As for this, it enables the Daily Mail to have its own fun and games about those evil/criminal crazies over the pond! Catering to their clientele so to speak.

66 posted on 11/25/2012 5:52:48 PM PST by SES1066 (Government is NOT the reason for my existence but it is the road to our ruin!)
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To: DogByte6RER

Methinks we didn’t have the throw weight to get any of our nukes to the moon without an Apollo like effort.

This smells like bull Obama to me.


67 posted on 11/25/2012 5:53:40 PM PST by Da Coyote
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To: DogByte6RER

Blow up the moon? Nonsense. A hundred nukes would stir up the dust but have little effect otherwise.

Carl been doin’ too much pot even then.


68 posted on 11/25/2012 5:56:59 PM PST by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: Shadow44
The Orion bombs would have been very small - on the order of less than a kiloton, but none would be used to launch it. Launch would have been by conventional means.

The fission detonations would only begin once Orion was above the atmosphere.

What killed it was a failure of political will. Otherwise, we would have been to Mars by 1965 and Venus by ‘73. An interstellar version was also planned with a crew of 265 or so.

We would have had successful colonies on both the Moon and Mars by now.

Instead we settled for third or fourth best alternative and ended up with the dangerous antiques: the Apollo and Space Shuttle. Both now dead.

As for blowing up the Moon - now or in the 50s - not a chance.

The largest fusion bomb ever detonated was by the Russians yielding 90 plus megatons. Many craters on the Moon were created by detonations in the millions of megatons for comparison. And the Moon is still there ...

69 posted on 11/25/2012 6:03:16 PM PST by PIF (They came for me and mine ... now it is your turn ...)
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To: elcid1970

Illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator.


70 posted on 11/25/2012 6:06:37 PM PST by Astronaut
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To: DogByte6RER
Don't touch the moon;
I need it for loving.
Don't touch the stars;
I need them, too.
All you frantic scientists,
Find somewhere else to go.
--Cornell Blakeley
Don't Touch the Moon--Cornell Blakely, 1958
71 posted on 11/25/2012 6:11:23 PM PST by Fiji Hill (Io Triumphe!)
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To: DogByte6RER

http://www.johnspeedie.com/healy/heyho.wav


72 posted on 11/25/2012 6:16:55 PM PST by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both)
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To: SES1066

If we focus on warheads, then the lightest one in 1959 was the W-25 which weighed between 218 and 221 pounds; however, it had a yield of only 1.7 kilotons (much lower than either Fat Man or Little Boy). Lager yield warheads ranged in weight from about 900 pounds to over 6,000 pounds - the US nuclear bombs were even heavier (the Mk.24 bomb weighed over 40,000 pounds).


73 posted on 11/25/2012 6:20:13 PM PST by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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To: elcid1970
“GET ME OUTTA HERE!!!!”

Ah man, those WERE the days...sigh....

74 posted on 11/25/2012 6:42:35 PM PST by Las Vegas Ron (Medicine is the keystone in the arch of socialism)
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To: DogByte6RER

75 posted on 11/25/2012 6:42:43 PM PST by crusadersoldier
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To: DogByte6RER

The American Werewolf Society stopped it.


76 posted on 11/25/2012 6:57:51 PM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: DogByte6RER

No one was going to blow up the moon. It may be smaller than Earth, but it’s still pretty darn big. As someone else said, we could put a decent crater in it. Even the biggest nukes ever produced (by the Soviets, who else) barely scratch the Earth’s surface. Of course they destroy the heck out of stuff within 10 miles and will leave a big crater with a huge scar....but it’s still no more than a scratch in our planet’s crust.


77 posted on 11/25/2012 6:58:20 PM PST by BobL (You can live each day only once. You can waste a few, but don't waste too many.)
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To: BobL

Not even Tzar Bomba (designed for 100 megaton yield but tested at 50) would have done much more than made a light show and kicked up the dust.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsar_Bomba


78 posted on 11/25/2012 7:18:43 PM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: Jonty30
Those moon craters were created by meteorites that hit it with more force than anything we can create at the time of this report and the moon is still their.

Our largest thermonuclear weapons were developed and tested prior to 1959.

With the increasing accuracy of our delivery systems we were able to reduce the yields of the weapons and thus the requirements for the huge quantities of fissile materials needed to build them. The people who were responsible for the development and employment of nuclear weapons did not want massive weapons, only ones big enough to perform required tasks needed to fight a war and thus deter our enemies from starting one.

79 posted on 11/25/2012 7:22:00 PM PST by OldMissileer
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To: DogByte6RER

Then, we would have had to rename Moon Pies. And I ain’t taking a bite out of anything called a Uranus Pie.


80 posted on 11/25/2012 7:22:15 PM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: Beowulf9

Thank you - I was hoping that pic was here. :o)


81 posted on 11/25/2012 7:26:22 PM PST by mykroar (BAD-ANON: One Game At A Time)
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To: mykroar

Seemed perfect. Funny thing is, last night I was thinking of this picture.

Ever see the movie? I watched it for the first time today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JDaOOw0MEE


82 posted on 11/25/2012 7:41:01 PM PST by Beowulf9
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To: Sherman Logan

Please...

The entire nuclear arsenal of the planet at the heighth of the cold war (~50,000 Mt) fabricated into one bomb would hardly make a noteworthy new crater on the moon aside from the fact that the surface in the blast area would be vitrified and reflect some more light.

Major extinction events here have been in association with energy releases on the line of 200,000,000 Mt, and while it screwed the earth up, it came no where near destoying it, or all life on it for that matter (which would actually probably take reliquifying the lithospere to a depth greater than 1 mile).


83 posted on 11/25/2012 7:43:03 PM PST by Axenolith (Government blows, and that which governs least, blows least...)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

I believe that’s closer to 16 or 17%, I think you lost a decimal place there. If it was 1.2%, tides would be a few inches...


84 posted on 11/25/2012 7:49:11 PM PST by Axenolith (Government blows, and that which governs least, blows least...)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

Damn, you appear to have been right, 1/6th volume and yet that much less mass... It must have a creamy filling!!!


85 posted on 11/25/2012 7:53:51 PM PST by Axenolith (Government blows, and that which governs least, blows least...)
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To: DogByte6RER
This was not much of a secret, as I recall hearing about it in the open media at the time. Of course, "blowing up the moon" is tabloid crap. A nuclear burst on the moon visible from earth would have been something different and impressive to say the least, but it was never much more than idle brainstorming. The concern about "danger to people on earth" is patent nonsense, since at the time we were testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere right here at home.
86 posted on 11/25/2012 8:01:59 PM PST by hinckley buzzard
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To: Axenolith

They say 1/4 the diameter, so if the densities were similar that is a ratio of 4 cubed, or 64. A bit under 2% by volume, and then the creamy filling factor (actually the moon does not boast a dense iron core as best we know).


87 posted on 11/25/2012 8:03:39 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: hinckley buzzard

The danger would have come if the rocket somehow did not make it to the moon, especially if it failed in low trajectory. Presumably the bomb would be set not to go boom in such an event, but it would be a source of radioactive dirt.


88 posted on 11/25/2012 8:05:25 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: pepsionice

That wouldn’t be the first catastrophe to result from it. Without the Moon we’d have no tides on Earth, the oceans would stagnate, and Earth would slowly die.


89 posted on 11/25/2012 8:19:11 PM PST by Tucker39
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To: Axenolith

I suspect if we put a crash program on it we could develop a bomb that would do more than that. I’m not saying we’ve got one ready in the garage.


90 posted on 11/25/2012 8:24:37 PM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: Las Vegas Ron

“Where’s the kaboom? There was supposed to be a Moon-shattering kaboom!”


91 posted on 11/25/2012 8:29:29 PM PST by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com)
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To: DogByte6RER

And we just voted these nitwits in charge of our health care.


92 posted on 11/25/2012 8:38:34 PM PST by Plumres
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To: SES1066
Anybody care to guess what the lightest A-Bomb was at that time? I don’t know but I am willing to guess it was far more than 500 lbs. and then add G-Force resistance and an instrument package capable of controlling even a ballistic radar fused bomb would put it over the top there for that time period.

Actually The smallest US warhead was the W54

Physics package just 51 lbs. Complete warhead c100 (and the Soviet 8" mortar round was slighly lighter)

These were subkilton, but in the Nagasaki range was the W44/Tsetse at 175lb. The Brits considered using an anglised version of Tsetse (Tony) as a primary for their 60s bombs, but eventually decided on UK designed Katie, which was even lighter

These all date from the early 60s

93 posted on 11/25/2012 8:40:42 PM PST by Oztrich Boy (To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth" - Voltaire)
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To: cripplecreek

All that radioactive dust would have floated around and eventually got back into the Earth’s atmosphere...maybe years later.

Most of the dust it kicked up would have fallen back to the moon. Besides tons of naturally occurring radioactive space dust falls to the earth every year.

Yup, we think we would do “so much damage” to the moon by putting a nuke on the moon....

Hubris, thy name is humanity!


94 posted on 11/25/2012 8:44:53 PM PST by GraceG
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To: ruesrose

Maybe the concept was that the Soviets would see us attacking the moon for no discernable reason, and conclude that we were so deranged, that they should just stay very far away from us.


95 posted on 11/25/2012 9:02:39 PM PST by DesertRhino (I was standing with a rifle, waiting for soviet paratroopers, but communists just ran for office.)
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To: NonValueAdded
It was lunacy, though, no question about that.

Haha, nice.
96 posted on 11/25/2012 9:07:38 PM PST by andyk (I have sworn...eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.)
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To: Revolting cat!

The B-52s did.

There’s a moon in the sky
It’s called the moon
And everybody is there, including,
Saturn, Mercury
Saturn, Venus
Saturn, Mars

OK, you’re right, it doesn’t rhyme.


97 posted on 11/25/2012 9:13:57 PM PST by Lx (Do you like it, do you like it. Scott? I call it Mr. and Mrs. Tennerman chili.)
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To: Army Air Corps
Lager yield warheads ranged in weight from about 900 pounds to over 6,000 pounds

That's a LOT of beer!

98 posted on 11/26/2012 4:19:20 AM PST by hattend (Firearms and ammunition...the only growing industries under the Obama regime.)
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To: DogByte6RER
Is this what they were trying for?
99 posted on 11/26/2012 4:40:03 AM PST by jmcenanly ("The more corrupt the state, the more laws." Tacitus, Publius Cornelius)
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To: hattend

Not many are aware of the Lager Bombs. The trick was to shake them violently before lobbing them at the target.


100 posted on 11/26/2012 6:19:19 AM PST by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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