Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Albuquerque's National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

This is a Smithsonian museum devoted to nuclear history (both weapons and peaceful uses) and it is awesome.  I linked to the Wikipedia page because the museum's page has a certificate error.  It has a detailed history of the development of nuclear science and many of the delivery systems.

They have a B-29 and a mockup of the Trinity Site tower and plutonium bomb:
Inside they have not a mockup, but one of the other four Fat Boy bomb casings (minus the pit, of course) which shows the detonators and wiring harness.  Have 15 kg of plutonium?  I think I know where to go to complete your nuclear science project.  Your junior high school science teacher will be so surprised!

Delivery systems:

and the cases for air drop:

and the ultimate stupid idea delivery system, the nuclear shell cannon:

They also had a series of exhibits explaining the decision to drop the bomb, and a section on Cold War brinksmanship and civil defense.  They also had a section on popular culture manifestations of peaceful nuclear science, including Dr. Brown's Delorean.  Admission was $10 per person, the day we visited.


  1. Actually, the dumbest thing they ever deployed was the Crocket weapon (the weapon could be mounted on a jeep). The 280mm at least had enough range that the firing cannon was outside the blast wave zone where the Crocket require the gun crew to dive into a slit trench on firing. The historian at Aberdeen Proving ground stated the only thing that would have been dumber then Crocket would have been a nuclear hand-grenade.

  2. I'm glad you got to see that museum - it's excellent, and it looks like it has improved since I was there a few years ago.

    My father used to work down the street to the south, and what was then Sandia Base. For years, we had no idea what he did there, but I finally figured it out a decade after he had left there to become a professor, and he confirmed it. He was designing the nukes. Sandia was the main engineering operation then (50's). BTW, none of my friends knew what their dads did either - most of the industry in Albuquerque at the time was highly classified - either at Sandia Base, Kirtland AFB or Monsano Base.

    Also, just where I-40 goes east into Tijeras Canyon, on the south side, is a small mountain that used to be a nuclear arsenal. You could (and still can, I think) see the triple security fence, and some of the bunkers. These days, though, the nukes are stored underground a few miles west of that mountain. The old arsenal is quite obvious on Google Earth 39N, 106 29.5W

  3. Thanks for the vicarious visit- a friend of mine was recently visiting that museum, and he frustrated me greatly by posting a series of pictures with captions like, "I don't know what this is," and "Some kind of rocket I think."

    I told him that he could at least have taken some photos of the placards on the exhibit, or better yet actually find out what the exhibits were before photographing them all.

    He wasn't pleased to hear my critique, but I really do appreciate the way you've done it: your way tells me what I'm looking at!