20. November 2007 · Comments Off on There will always be an England · Categories: General

I found this note on how the RAF used to arm their nuclear weapons to be charmingly English . . .

Newsnight reveals that RAF nuclear bombs were armed by opening a panel held by two captive screws like a battery cover on a radio using a thumbnail or a coin.

Inside are the arming switch and a series of dials which are turned with an allen key to select high yield or low yield, air burst or ground burst and other parameters.

The bomb is actually armed by inserting a cylindrical bicycle lock key into the arming switch and turning it through 90 degrees.

There is no code which needs to be entered or dual key system to prevent a rogue individual from arming the bomb, although RAF crews were supposed to always work in pairs if they were near the bomb or had the keys for the bomb.

Opening up the hatch with a coin – then using an allen wrench (for the love of mike) to adjust the darn thing – and then launching with a bicycle key – is a touch worthy of Monty Phython. Mary Poppins would appreciate the thriftiness demonstrated; Yanks would spend billions on a special key system from Boeing. The Brits just ran down to the hardware store one day and called it good.

Cross posted to Space For Commerce.

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