Title: Flying on Nuclear - The Superpowers Quest for a Nuclear Powered Bomber
Authors: Raul Colon
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Another key development was the introduction of nuclear propulsion into the Soviet Union’s submarine force. This, coupled with the introduction of the Sea Launch Ballistic Missile, gave the Soviet another potent brute force type of platform from which to deter the U.S. The Soviets decided to invest vast amounts of resources in the development of a nuclear submarine force. A feat they were able to achieve with impressive results. When the Cold War ended, the Soviet Union possessed the largest nuclear missile carrying force in the world. Those factors combined to make the nuclear powered bomber program obsolete accordingly to the new Soviet doctrine that relays on the ability of the missile to get thru a dense air defense network.

In both cases, politics, not technology, was the primary factor in abandoning their respective nuclear powered aircraft program. One can only imagine what would have happen if these atomic planes were built to an operational status. Although today there is still interest in the concept, major advances in unmanned air platforms had render the concept almost obsolete. But almost did not mean, completely. One example of almost but not completely is the long forgotten Custer’s Channel Wing Concept of the early 1950s. As of today, the concept is being revised for possible application to today’s airframes. Can this sort of renew interest happen with the atomic air platform?


  • 1 Concept Aircraft: Prototypes, X-Planes, and Experimental Aircraft; Edit Jim Winchester, Thunder Bay Press – 2005
  • 2 Peacetime Use of Atomic Energy; Martin Mann, The Viking Press – 1961
  • 3 The X Plane; Jay Miller, Aerofax – 1988
  • 4 Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Program; Metal Progress – 1959
  • 5 The World Encyclopedia of Bombers; Francis Crosby, Anness Publishing - 2004

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