Cold War Neutron Bomb Slide Rule

The Tactical Nuclear Slide Rule shown above was developed during the Cold War [in about 1978]  by Clair Stuart Kelley at the US Army Electronics R & D Command’s Harry Diamond Laboratories. It is a sophisticated slide rule which could be used to calculate the damage resulting from detonating a nuclear weapon. The slide rule case gives two examples of possible calculations.

What is minimum distance from a 1.3 kT weapon at which a M577 armoured personnel carrier will not overturn?

What is the smallest weapon yield that will cause a AN/GRC-160 radio to fail because of neutron induced effects at a distance of 0.8 km?

Neutron Bomb Calculator

There are a number of cold war calculators which deal with the thermal, blast and fallout effects of nuclear weapons. The  Tactical Nuclear Slide Rule may have been created to calculate the consequences of  either attacking with, or being attacked with,  neutron warheads.

Enhanced radiation weapons (ERW)  had been first deployed in 1975. “The W66 warhead, for the anti-ICBM Sprint missile system, was deployed in 1975 and retired the next year, along with the missile system. The W70 Mod 3 warhead was developed for the short-range, tactical Lance missile, and the W79 Mod 0 was developed for artillery shells.”

The low weapon yield [1.3 kT ] in the first example above suggests the use of a ERW. The three ERW warheads mentioned earlier all had low explosive yields because they produced their effects by an intense pulse of ionising radiation, not from heat and blast. “Compared to a fission bomb with the identical explosive yield, a neutron bomb would emit about ten times the amount of neutron radiation. In a fission bomb, radiation pulse energy is approximately 5% of entire energy released; in the neutron bomb it would be closer to 50%.  Neutron bombs release a much higher amount of neutrons than a fission bomb of the same explosive yield.”

The second example is specifically concerned with the effects of neutron induced radiation on communications.

The rule was probably intended for use by senior military commanders or in war gaming.

The slide rule appears to be vary rare.

For more posts about Cold War calculators click on the Cold War Calculators category on the right.

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