of the week
09:08:12 - 09:29:12
09:08:12 -- PICTURES OF THE WEEK: Top picture, from 1952, a United States Army Redstone missile being erected. The Redstone ballistic missile was a high-accuracy, liquid-propelled, surface-to-surface missile developed by the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, Redstone Arsenal, in Huntsville, Alabama, under the direction of Dr. Wernher von Braun. Though its origins lay in a post-war ballistic missile arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Redstone would also evolve into the first U.S. entry into the space race. The Redstone was modified into versions labeled Jupiter, used as sounding rockets for scientific research into the upper atmosphere, as well as the Juno-1 series, which launched America's first orbital satellite, Explorer 1 (second picture, from 1957, showing a test mating of the satellite payload to the Redstone). In 1961 (bottom three pictures) the Mercury-Redstone version launched Alan Sheppard as the first American in space, the beginning of a career in space which started with his 1961 suborbital flight and which culminated in Sheppard's becoming the fifth man to walk on the moon. The Redstone itself would become the basis for the first-stage of the Saturn 1 rocket -- using eight Redstone-Jupiter engines strapped together -- the United States' first heavy-lift dedicated space launcher.
09:15:12 -- PICTURES OF THE WEEK: From 1952, Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine cover art depicting human space travel, Mars colonies and asteroid mining -- five years before the launch of Sputnik, Earth's first satellite. Top picture, the September 1952 cover art for the article "Space Travel By 1960?" by science writer Willy Ley. Born in Berlin in 1906, Ley had chronicled rocketry from its earliest beginnings, and was known as one of the fathers of the dream of space flight. Middle picture, the November 1952 cover art for the Isaac Asimov story "The Martian Way", which told of water wars between Mars colonists and their suppliers from Earth, with the colonists the eventual winners and progenitors of further human settlement throughout space. Bottom picture, the May 1952 cover art for "Garden in the Void" by Poul Anderson, the story of men and women asteroid miners who make an unexpected discovery of extraterrestrial life.
09:22:12 -- PICTURES OF THE WEEK: An Avro Vulcan nuclear bomber prototype as it soars above a vintage biplane (top picture) and on the ground as a propeller-driven aircraft takes flight(bottom picture) during the Farnborough air show, circa 1952. Second picture: Two Avro Vulcan nuclear bomber prototypes flying in formation with four Avro Type 707 experimental aircraft. The Avro Type 707 -- a one-third size "proof of concept" experimental model to test delta wing flight dynamics -- was the predecessor aircraft to the Avro Vulcan nuclear bomber. The first prototype Type 707 first flew in September 1949 and was destroyed in a crash just a month after. The second prototype, significantly redesigned and with a top speed of 467 miles per hour (third picture), first flew in September 1950. The genesis of the Avro Vulcan lay in Britain's atomic bomb development program, and was built to meet the specification of "a medium range bomber landplane capable of carrying one 10,000 lb bomb to a target 1,500 nautical miles from a base which may be anywhere in the world". The VX770 -- the first Vulcan nuclear bomber prototype (fourth picture), flew for the first time on August 30, 1952 and made an appearance a month later at Farnborough, wowing spectators with its demonstration of an "almost vertical bank". Production models entered the Royal Air Force as the Vulcan B1 and Vulcan B2 bombers (pictures five through seven). As part of Britain's independent nuclear deterrent, the Vulcan initially carried Britain's first airborne nuclear weapon, -- the Blue Danube gravity bomb -- flying in excess of 600 miles per hour at a maximum altitude of 55,000 feet.
09:29:12 -- PICTURES OF THE WEEK: From 1952, civil defense in the United States.
The genesis of the civil defense effort stretched directly back to the first successful Soviet atomic bomb test in late August, 1949. Though the United States had had a nationwide civil defense program during World War II, it had been all but abandoned following the end of the war. But with President Truman's September, 1949 announcement that the Soviets had acquired "the bomb" large swaths of the American public became agitated and alarmed at America's new and terrible vulnerability to nuclear devastation. Almost immediately Truman set in motion planning for a new civil defense effort and in December, 1950 the Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) came into being.
Initially uncertain how to deal with a nuclear attack, the FCDA settled on a dual approach in case of war: shelters for civilians in vulnerable areas and evacuation for industry out of harm's way. In its first annual report, covering the year 1951, the FCDA noted...>
Civil defense is our answer to the threat of attack on our home front. Military and civilian authorities agree that the intercontinental bomber and the terror weapons of atomic, biological, and chemical attack have added a new dimension to warfare. It's a dimension that adds reach to the attack; that enables it to by-pass and overshoot our traditional defenses and strike at the very root of our strength. The new dimension wipes out the distinction between combatant and non-combatant. It makes civilians on the home front as vulnerable to death and injury as soldiers on the firing line. It makes our backyards of today the potential front lines of tomorrow.
And though noting that progress had been "too slow" that same report found reasons for optimism in that "every American State and Territory, every critical target area and practically every community has at least the nucleus of a civil defense organization." Still, though there were already 1.8 million civil defense volunteers, it was projected that more than 17 million volunteers would eventually be needed.
In 1952 FCDA ratcheted up its effort, starting with Truman's State of the Union message in which he warned the nation that lack of a comprehensive civil defense system "is an open invitation to a surprise attack". By the end of 1952 the FCDA was able to report "nearly 2,000 civil defense exercise were conducted by cities and entire States in 1952. These involved 2,000,000 civil defense workers and 42,000,000 citizens". Estimates were made that air raid sirens could reach "more than 40 percent of the critical target area population in a matter of minutes from the USAF air defense control centers". That year also saw an increase in civil defense workers to four million. By the end of 1952 the FCDA had overseen training of "some 200,000 specialists and instructors", as well as laid the groundwork for the national Public Emergency Broadcast system, which went live the next year.
But two of the FCDA's efforts in 1952 were the most visible to the general public... first, the "Alert America Convoy" of 1952, when over a period of nine months three caravans of 10 trucks each crisscrossed the country with civil defense exhibits, visited by "more than 1,100,000 people in 82 cities". And second -- and perhaps most remembered of all civil defense activities -- the release of "Duck and Cover", a cartoon starring "Bert the Turtle" telling children how to protect themselves during a nuclear attack.
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