Report: Nuke That Fell on N.C. in 1961 Almost Exploded
One of two hydrogen bombs that a doomed B-52 accidentally dropped on North Carolina in 1961 came perilously close to exploding, according to a recently declassified report.
The 4-megaton Mark 39 bombs — each packing 260 times the explosive power of the weapon that decimated Hiroshima — broke loose over Goldsboro, N.C., as the bomber went into a tailspin and crashed.
The Mark 39 hydrogen bomb had an explosive yield of 4 megatons, equal to 4 million tons of TNT. Two fell accidentally on Goldsboro, N.C., in 1961, and one nearly detonated.(Photo: U.S. Air Force)
All four safety mechanisms designed to prevent accidental detonation worked properly on one bomb, which landed in a meadow, but three failed on the other, and only a low-voltage switch kept it from exploding upon impact in a field in Faro, N.C., said the 1969 report.