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Ranchoth
10-25-2011, 09:22 PM
Call me inspired by the upcoming Punkin' Chunkin' competition, and the engineering efforts of the Libyan rebels...

To be specific, are there any existing siege engine designs—like a catapult, trebuchet, etc—that could deliver a small nuclear weapon to a target without killing the launch crew or the siege engine?

For "small," I'm specifically listing the W-54 "Davy Crokett" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davy_Crockett_%28nuclear_device%29), which weighed 51 lbs, and had a yield of about 20 tons [sic] of TNT. According to at least one site I've seen (http://www.guntruck.com/DavyCrockett.html), a 20-ton nuclear explosion would produce lethal radiation out to about between...400, 500 meters. One can calculate the other effects for 0.02 kilotons here. (http://www.alternatewars.com/BBOW/ABC_Weapons/Nuke_Effects_Calculator.htm)

And yes, I realize that this is a *slightly* impractical weapons system concept. But when has that ever stopped us? :D

dolphinboy
10-25-2011, 09:26 PM
What is the weight of the pumpkins used in the pumpkin chucking competitions? They don't look like they are 50 lbs...

Chronos
10-25-2011, 09:28 PM
Designs? Sure. It's trivially easy to scale up any trebuchet design to accommodate any given payload mass, and there are real-world trebs that get well over that range.

Whether any has actually been built, I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised.

billfish678
10-25-2011, 09:35 PM
On TV I've seen "trebs" that chunk small cars a decent distance. Take "decent distance" and multiply by weight of small car divided by 50 lbs and there is your ballpark answer right there.

dracoi
10-25-2011, 09:44 PM
If you put your trebuchet behind an earthen berm, you can block the majority of that radiation and go back to worrying about the actual blast. Given the up-and-over firing style, this wouldn't be a problem offensively, though you'd spend a lot of effort moving that much dirt around. You could also try some sort of mobile lead shielding. It sounds like this would mean a range of just 150-200 meters should be sufficient, and that's child's play even for ancient trebuchets.

TriPolar
10-25-2011, 09:51 PM
Wikipedia Trebuchet article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trebuchet#Counterweight_trebuchet)


Average weight of the projectiles was probably around 50–100 kg, with a range of ca. 300 meters.


That was 800 years ago. Doesn't sound to difficult to send half that weight another 100 - 200 meters. You might want to get further away than that, which you could do with a long rope attached to the release lever. That's assuming they can't work up other triggering mechanisms using modern technology.

But they have to stay close enough to the machine to protect it from manned assault. And they have to stay far enough away from the nearest artllery or RPG. RPGs make the minimum distance at least 1000 meters, probably more. But if a trebuchet made out of wood and rope can get half way there, one made of steel can't be too hard to build if the materials are available. Getting that nuclear weapon might be the tough part of the job.

Chronos
10-25-2011, 09:53 PM
You could also enhance your survivability just by launching over the top of an already-existing hill.

billfish678
10-25-2011, 09:57 PM
Hills smills and berms smerms... dig a small hole for each guy with a small berm and use some ropes to pull the trigger. Radiation problem greatly reduced.

TriPolar
10-25-2011, 09:59 PM
Yeah but radiation isn't the only danger. When they see you setting up the giant war machine, they might start shooting. You have to be out of range of their weapons.

A better approach might be to build a large wooden rabbit.

mac_bolan00
10-25-2011, 09:59 PM
the davy crockett system (m-28 and m-29) were nominated as being the dumbest weapons ever designed. this is because the missile, m-388, had a yield between 10 and 20 tonnes, can be heaved to a maximum range of only 2.5 miles (1.2 miles for the m-28) whereas the blast will yield a fatal dose to humans within 0.25 miles. a 1.0-mile clearance looks rather iffy especially under (nuclear) battlefield conditions. they say the only dumber weapon would be a nuclear hand grenade.

but the davy crockett had clear tactical value to NATO forces at the time. smarter and more modern delivery systems eliminated its need.

your launch system will be useful as such: to launch a heavy weapon. much of a rocket's force is expended during launch and initial acceleration. some assistance during launch will extend the range considerably.

Nametag
10-26-2011, 01:00 AM
Yeah but radiation isn't the only danger. When they see you setting up the giant war machine, they might start shooting. You have to be out of range of their weapons.

A better approach might be to build a large wooden rabbit.
Or a large wooden badger...

Alka Seltzer
10-26-2011, 03:44 AM
I'd employ a kamikaze camel (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1705341.stm).

Leo Bloom
10-26-2011, 06:02 AM
....

A better approach might be to build a large wooden rabbit.
Do mean the Rabbit of Caerbannog (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit_of_Caerbannog) or of Carter?

Der Trihs
10-26-2011, 07:34 AM
the davy crockett system (m-28 and m-29) were nominated as being the dumbest weapons ever designed. this is because the missile, m-388, had a yield between 10 and 20 tonnes, can be heaved to a maximum range of only 2.5 miles (1.2 miles for the m-28) whereas the blast will yield a fatal dose to humans within 0.25 miles. a 1.0-mile clearance looks rather iffy especially under (nuclear) battlefield conditions. they say the only dumber weapon would be a nuclear hand grenade.IIRC, the Navy also developed an equally dumb weapons; a nuclear-tipped torpedo whose fatal-to-subs blast radius was larger than its range.

Alka Seltzer
10-26-2011, 11:29 AM
IIRC, the Navy also developed an equally dumb weapons; a nuclear-tipped torpedo whose fatal-to-subs blast radius was larger than its range.

Well, dumb from the point of view of the safety of the operator, but they could have been used as a weapon of last resort against a ballistic missle submarine. Similarly, the US air force had nuclear tipped air-to-air missiles for shooting down Russian bombers. Prior to the widespread introduction of ICBMs these weapons might have been useful in the event of a nuclear exchange.

While we're on the subject of silly nuclear weapons, the British considered deploying a nuclear mine with a chicken (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Peacock) inside it.

wevets
10-26-2011, 12:29 PM
IIRC, the Navy also developed an equally dumb weapons; a nuclear-tipped torpedo whose fatal-to-subs blast radius was larger than its range.


When I first read this, I thought perhaps it was an air-dropped or rocket-launched torpedo, but a quick glance at wikipedia notes that the Mk 45 nuclear-armed torpedo was intended to be submarine-launched:


When fitted with the W34 warhead, ASTOR was considered to have a kill probability of 2 (or "Him and Me"), because the underwater blast radius was greater than the standard range of the torpedo.[3]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_45_torpedo

What were they thinking?



In a related issue, the Nike-Hercules (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIM-14_Nike-Hercules) antiaircraft missile system envisioned destroying incoming Soviet bombers with nuclear warheads. While a 2 kT blast 70 miles from a city is definitely preferable to a 30 kT blast in the city, it's probably not optimal either - but then what aspect of global thermonuclear war really is? Let's just play a nice game of chess.

dracoi
10-26-2011, 12:34 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_45_torpedo
What were they thinking?

I think Alka Seltzer nailed it already on this question. If the choice is "We lose one submarine" vs "We lose the eastern seaboard" then it's a pretty useful weapon.

Gray Ghost
10-26-2011, 01:57 PM
I doubt the claims of the wiki for the Mk-45 nuclear torpedo that detonation would automatically kill the launching submarine, particularly if the Mk-45 indeed had a range of 5-8 miles (9000 to 14,000 yards). A similar warhead for the ASROC system was tested in May 1962 (http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/n87/usw/issue_24/frigate_bird2.htm). The Swordfish test utilized a "fully-manned" observer submarine, 4000 yds from the intended ground zero. The ASROC's W-44 warhead had a nominal yield of 10kT; the W-34 used in the Mk-45 had a yield of 11 kt. The spray dome for Swordfish was 3000 feet across, so being closer than that to the explosion would be a bad idea. The Wahoo test in Operation Hardtack utilized a 9 kt device, detonated at 2000 feet below the surface. It formed a base surge 2.5 miles in diameter. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underwater_explosion)

So I would definitely be uncomfortable being closer than, say, a mile and half from detonation, but I think it is inaccurate to say that launching the Mk-45 automatically meant the death of the launching submarine. I believe, though I can't prove, the Mk-45 was merely a stopgap until the considerable technical difficulties in SUBROC' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UUM-44_SUBROC)s development were solved.

Gray Ghost
10-26-2011, 02:10 PM
In a related issue, the Nike-Hercules (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIM-14_Nike-Hercules) antiaircraft missile system envisioned destroying incoming Soviet bombers with nuclear warheads. While a 2 kT blast 70 miles from a city is definitely preferable to a 30 kT blast in the city, it's probably not optimal either - but then what aspect of global thermonuclear war really is? Let's just play a nice game of chess.

The Nike-Hercules system was tested, in the last fully open-air U.S. nuclear detonation, in the Tightrope test during Operation Dominic (or Fishbowl, which I gather refers to the high-altitude tests during Dominic) (http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Tests/Dominic.html). While the exact yield isn't publicly known for certain, the wiki for Tightrope (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Fishbowl#Tightrope) cites a .pdf stating the yield was 10kT. The warhead was detonated at roughly 70,000 feet over the island, 3 km SSW of Johnson Island. (http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/nikcules.htm) (you might have to scroll down to get to Tightrope on that link) The effects were witnessed to be: On Johnston Island an intense white flash, to bright to view even through high density goggles, was accompanied by a strong heat pulse. A yellow-orange disc formed, slowly changing to a purple toroid which faded from view after several minutes.

Which is probably better than letting the bomber drop its load. OTOH, the collateral damage from a Spartan (1.2 MT) ABM would probably be severe.

Alka Seltzer
10-26-2011, 02:15 PM
Also bear in mind the submarine would have been able to turn away and open the range by a useful amount (although this may have been limited by the wire guidance system).

code_grey
10-26-2011, 02:55 PM
When I first read this, I thought perhaps it was an air-dropped or rocket-launched torpedo, but a quick glance at wikipedia notes that the Mk 45 nuclear-armed torpedo was intended to be submarine-launched:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_45_torpedo

What were they thinking?

perhaps they counted on finding a way to scale down blast radius later on by using a better miniaturized bomb?

JustinC
10-26-2011, 03:05 PM
On TV I've seen "trebs" that chunk small cars a decent distance. Take "decent distance" and multiply by weight of small car divided by 50 lbs and there is your ballpark answer right there.

If you go to about 3:00 minutes on this clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwIbpVkxLKc) you'll see a very unusual Top Gear review.

billfish678
10-28-2011, 08:41 AM
While we're on the subject of silly nuclear weapons, the British considered deploying a nuclear mine with a chicken (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Peacock) inside it.

Damn thats funny.

It may replace the bat bomb for my favorite crazy idea that would probably work. Here's a bat bomb link (safe for work)

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

Otara
10-28-2011, 02:46 PM
When I first read this, I thought perhaps it was an air-dropped or rocket-launched torpedo, but a quick glance at wikipedia notes that the Mk 45 nuclear-armed torpedo was intended to be submarine-launched:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_45_torpedo

What were they thinking?


From the link:

"There was absolutely no danger that the small nuclear warhead would damage the launching sub, even at less than half the normal range."

Maybe it was updated, but it doesnt seem to support the claim made.

Otara

wevets
10-28-2011, 06:27 PM
From the link:

"There was absolutely no danger that the small nuclear warhead would damage the launching sub, even at less than half the normal range."

Maybe it was updated, but it doesnt seem to support the claim made.

Otara


Yup - checking the edit history (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mark_45_torpedo&action=historysubmit&diff=457608186&oldid=457607298), the phrase you quote was added on the evening of October 26th, several hours after I posted.

Unfortunately, it's not sourced. I went ahead and added "citation needed" tags.

wevets
10-28-2011, 06:31 PM
And looking at the citation history, the "kill probability of 2 (Him and Me)" is sourced to Preston, Anthony Submarine Warfare: An Illustrated History, page 86.

I'm not going to look up the Submarine Warfare book, but it's possible that the uncited reference to it being a joke might be wrong.

wevets
11-18-2011, 07:21 PM
Hoping to finally get an answer on the nuclear torpedo issue, I posted on Wikipedia asking for clarification on the assertion that it would damage the launching submarine.

According to this source (http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WTUS_PostWWII.htm), the Mark 45 nuclear torpedo had a range of about 15,000 yards and carried a warhead of 20 kilotons.

From the Baker tests (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Crossroads) of atomic bombs at Bikini, a 21 or 23 kiloton bomb was detonated underwater, depending on which source to believe. Submarines within about 1,000 yards of the detonation sank, but those outside the 1,000 yard circle seem to have escaped major damage, and fared better than surface ships outside the 1,000 yard circle, of which some sank, and the others were deluged with radioactive water and debris, making decontamination impossible for many. Cite (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Crossroads#Baker_target_array)

So it seems the "kill probability of 2" thing is indeed only a joke and not a real consequence of the Mark 45 torpedo.

Boyo Jim
11-18-2011, 08:41 PM
I have a plan that seems (on the surface) to be less than optimal, which is why you probably shouldn't think about it too much.

You can get away with a smaller trebuchet for you nuke if you have some other trebuchets for... your crew. You have your crew trebuchets facing the opposite direction as the weapon one. You fire the weapon, and then you fire the crew away to... uh... safety!

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