Washington police bomb squad discovers decommissioned Cold War-era nuclear warhead in man's garage
ยท Feb 14, 2024 ยท NottheBee.com

If you're part of a local police bomb squad you probably expect your job to be pretty run-of-the-mill, relatively speaking: Defusing suspicious packages, breaking down suspicious briefcases at airports, the occasional crisis response.

You probably do not expect nuclear warhead missiles.

But sometimes that's what you get:

Police in Bellevue, Washington, were recently called to examine a unique artifact in a resident's garage: the rusting body of a Cold War-era missile designed to carry a nuclear warhead.

They arrived on the scene after a man called an Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio, offering to donate the object, which had belonged to his late neighbor. The museum notified local authorities in Bellevue, who sent a bomb squad to investigate earlier this month.

You love to picture the squad getting that call and rolling out:

Upon arriving, the police determined that the bomb was in fact a Douglas AIR-2 Genie. The police department said in a statement that the missile was,

an unguided air-to-air rocket that is designed to carry a 1.5 kt W25 nuclear warhead.

Laconically, the police noted: "There was no warhead attached."

Here are some shots of the hilariously alarming find:

Development of the missile took place in the mid-1950s:

The final design carried a 1.5-kiloton W25 nuclear warhead and was powered by a Thiokol SR49-TC-1 solid-fuel rocket engine of 162 kN (36,000 lbf) thrust, sufficient to accelerate the rocket to Mach 3.3 during its two-second burn. Total flight time was about 12 seconds, during which time the rocket covered 10 km (6.2 mi). Targeting, arming, and firing of the weapon were coordinated by the launch aircraft's fire-control system. Detonation was by time-delay fuze, although the fuzing mechanism would not arm the warhead until engine burn-out, to give the launch aircraft sufficient time to turn and escape.

The military tested a warhead in this delivery system only once, in 1957. Here's footage of the detonation:

(You gotta love the insanity of five military officers standing directly under a detonating nuke. It was different times.)

So how on earth did the missile come to be in the suburban driveway? Its owner said it had belonged to his deceased neighbor, who 'had originally purchased the item from an estate sale.' (It's actually somewhat unsurprising โ€” silos in Washington State are home to a huge portion of the globe's nuclear warhead stock.)

Having determined that the missile was safe, police "left the item with the neighbor to be restored for display in a museum."

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