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How many nukes would it take to destroy a city?

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posted on Apr, 20 2008 @ 11:24 PM
ive always worried about a nuke near philly since i live kind of close. now i used that site carlos labs and see i might be out of the bomb radius so i might be able to evacuate before the radiation storm comes my way. thanks for the link shadwgirl.

grab the family and run leave everything and hope to beet the traffic exodus. its an insane world when one has to think of such things as a possibility.

posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 02:17 AM
There are `basically` 3 types of nuclear weapon , the Atomic bomb (or fission bomb) , the Thermo-nuclear (Hydrogen , H bomb or fusion bomb) and the enhanced radiation-bomb (or neutron bomb)

the days of larger and larger bombs is over - whilst there is a bigger `bang` the total area destroyed isnt greatly increased going from 1 > 25 MT (megaton) and in fact most MIRV`s are in the 200 >300KT range

have a read of the above - the writer is physics doctor and literally that is a step by step to the process of a nuclear detonation , with prompt and after effects.

another great site to read

but to answer your question ; as Fred said , to totally remove the physical existance of a city would take numerous warheads - the 2 used in japan in WW2 didn`t totally destroy the city ,

that building was just 150 meters from the detonation point and survived intact but in reality it you only need 1 weapon to `disable` a city , prompt high energy state radiation (gamma and high energy beta) would effect everyone locally (those not vapourised by the blast and heat effects), alpha radiation would effect those who are uncovered agaon quite rapidly - and finally fallout which is the highly readioactive dirt which is sucked into the sky would return to earth and cover everything downwind.

the main difference between WW2 bombs and today - the blast/heat effect was over a realively small area , the prompt radiation effects were over a much larger area - today the 2 `zones` are virtually the same so those people at ground zero will likely not have the radiation burns associated with hiroshima etc.

as for your figure of 60 miles - if you say thats 60 square miles then you would be correct - as that is *only* and area roughly 7 miles on each side

posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 03:25 AM
reply to post by masqua

Exactly. The last time I saw a map of suspected nuclear targets in australia, Pine gap and WA were the only two due to being important tracking and communications centres for the US on our side of the world.

I don't recall any cities being on the target list in Australia as our country is not particularly threatening in terms of military capability. Also we are not a nuclear power.

posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 03:30 AM
With all due respect. How many rocks and sticks will it take to vanquish our foes in WW4?

posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 04:12 AM
If you're going to use a nuke, it will be a neutron bomb. A neutron bomb over a populated area will kill alot of people but the overpressure (blast) will be remarkably small. You can produce a neutron bomb with a kiloton output. Not very large (comparably). There have been conventional explosions with over a kiloton of yield. And neutron radiation dissipates rather quickly leaving very little "fallout".

posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 06:30 AM
Aye. A neutron bomb would be a good choice if you want to clear out military and civilian personnel threats and still leave infrastructure intact. When such a weapon would be considered put to use I have no idea though.

This thread is filled with too many vague answers to the initial question by the way, and a good dose of complete and utter bull#. Some speak of nuclear weapons like it's some sort of constant destructive force with no variation as to size, yield, detonation point and type of fuel and nuclear reaction... Like "THE nuclear bomb is a constant". There is a huge difference between a sub-kiloton fission bomb being used in a city and a full out thermonuclear strike. Outcome also depends on where the weapon is detonated (air/ground/underground). A big part of determining the destructive force of a nuclear weapon is of course the fallout, which can be both severe and not so severe relative to the yield of the weapon.

It would be interesting if someone with the correct knowledge could pen out a scenario involving a number of specific weapons and the result of them detonating in, under or over different cities on the planet.

In the meantime this link should be interesting for a lot of you:

It's from the same website referred to earlier in the thread, all though this is a different article. It basically plays through the scenario of a full out thermonuclear exchange mainly between the US and Russia/Soviet resulting in a global nuclear war, and the effects of it all.

[edit on 21-4-2008 by me_ofef_seraph]

posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 08:54 AM
it seems there is a HUGE misinformation about Enhanced Radiation weapons (neutron or otherwise)

they are a nuclear bomb

they go bag

they blow stuff up

its still a kiloton class nuke.

This intense burst of high-energy neutrons is intended as the principal mechanism of killing, although a large amount of heat and blast is also produced. A common idea is that a neutron bomb "leaves the infrastructure intact"; however, current designs have yields in the kiloton range, the detonation of which could cause heavy destruction through blast and heat effects. A yield of one kiloton is not much for a nuclear weapon but it is nearly two orders of magnitude (100x) bigger than the most powerful conventional bombs. The blast from a neutron bomb may be enough to level almost any civilian structures inside the lethal radiation range

its like the other misconception - nuclear bunker busters are safe - no there not its still a nuke.

neutron bombs are no longer in service (W66, W70mod3 and W70mod0) as , quite frankly they are not as effective as sci-fi wants you to believe, and would have been used , in the main , against soviet tank formations in the fulda gap where the burst of neutrons would have killed the crews more effectively than no ER weapons (W70 is from a lance , W79 is an arti shell)

also the main `ingredient` is tritium - which unlike other weapons has a shelf life of 12 years - then its capabilities are seriously reduced and it has to be replaced.

btw there are other ER weapons - the warhead of the `Spartan` missile the W71 , was enhanced with Gold to improve the output of X-Ray`s to disable inbound soviet missiles.

and if you want a nasty bomb - you want a Salted warhead - a thermonuclear warhead with an outer casing of cobalt.

posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 03:29 PM
That is easy to answer. Even for a very large spread out city like Los Angeles, it would take only one medium sized air blast to wipe out the city. The EMP would wipe out the electrical grid and the surrounding infastructure. There would be so much confusion and no authority or control. Every building still standing would be torn apart from the inside out. You would be on your own with no help for many days of even weeks. The city would be considered a complete loss. Anachary would reign and only a massive military intervention would clear out the riff-raff and gangs.

posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 03:37 PM
Well, according to Wikipedia this is the damage "little boy" did:

It created a blast equivalent to about 13 kilotons of TNT. (The U-235 weapon was considered very inefficient, with only 1.38% of its material fissioning.)[16] The radius of total destruction was about 1.6 km (1 mile), with resulting fires across 11.4 km² (4.4 square miles).[17] Infrastructure damage was estimated at 90 percent of Hiroshima's buildings being either damaged or completely destroyed.


That one was only 13 kilotons, todays bomb will at least be capable of 100 MEGAtons:
"A kiloton is one-thousandth of a megaton."
So just imagine the damage...

More about the 50 megaton bomb:

The fireball touched the ground, reached nearly as high as the altitude of the release plane, and was seen and felt 1,000 km away. The heat from the explosion could have caused third degree burns 100 km away from ground zero. The subsequent mushroom cloud was about 60 km high (nearly seven times higher than Mount Everest) and 30–40 km wide. The explosion could be seen and felt in Finland, even breaking windows there. [5] Atmospheric focusing caused blast damage up to 1,000 km away. The seismic shock created by the detonation was measurable even on its third passage around the Earth.[6] Its Richter magnitude was about 5 to 5.25.

The Tsar Bomba was a three-stage hydrogen bomb with a yield of about 50 megatons.[2] This is equivalent to ten times the amount of all the explosives used in World War II combined.

[edit on 2008/4/21 by TrappedSoul]

posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 05:05 PM

Originally posted by jpm1602
With all due respect. How many rocks and sticks will it take to vanquish our foes in WW4?

It's not that complex a procedure ( if somewhat time consuming if you want very precise batch performance) to reload shells for handguns and rifles and there is no known way how a nuclear war is going to destroy the global community in the type of way that will leave us with stick and stones alone.

The nuclear winter stuff is entirely fanciful and meant to both discourage the use of nuclear weapons in self defense and to create the idea that nuclear war is not survivable a population or humanity in general. In fact all it takes is simple fall out structures and good preparation for food storage and your odds of survival will be VERY good unless you happen to have your shelter close to a ground bursting nuke or right under a very large ( probably 500 KT plus of which few are in use) air burst.


posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 05:49 PM
reply to post by TrappedSoul

Find me a single 100 megaton device.(The qualifications are it must be operational or must have been built/or tested.)

Since they seem to be plentiful, it should be easy.

Shattered OUT...

posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 05:50 PM
Modern thinking uses several smaller nukes in a spread pattern and basically exploding at the same time.

Think of a hit in the geographic middle of the area and then more nukes at 12 - 3 - 6 - 9 o'clock pattern several miles away. With another concentric ring around that. The over pressures destroy everything at basically 1 time.

The days of the big bombs went away with bombers flying in over Canada to reek havoc on the USA and the same said for B-52's over Russia. Modern and very accurate missiles carry small warheads, relative speaking. These are launched so that they impact the area about the same time.

Los Angles has an area of around 450 sq. miles. A dozen properly placed relative small nukes would flatten most of this area. Radiation would be a problem downwind, but that is for a different thread.

A guy by the name of Desmond Ball wrote a very interesting book on strategic nuclear weapon targeting, several years ago. If you serious about this subject, check the book out of the library.

BTW: forget the nuclear winter theory. It was a theory that has fairly well been put to rest within the scientific community. If one cares about it:

posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 05:53 PM
It only took one small one to put Hiroshima out of commission for quite some time, and only one for Nagasaki. One nuke is plenty to cause mass chaos over an entire region even if you are miles from ground zero.

posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 06:15 PM

Originally posted by smokingmonkey
It only took one small one to put Hiroshima out of commission for quite some time, and only one for Nagasaki. One nuke is plenty to cause mass chaos over an entire region even if you are miles from ground zero.

Sure but consider the construction materials used in most Japanese cities as well as the fact that it was never designed with such blasts in mind it's no surprised that the infrastructure were largely laid waste. Civilian infrastructure is always going to suffer but with proper preparation there is no reason why industrial capacity can not hardened to withstand anything but direct hits thus requiring dozens of warheads where one would normally have been sufficient. As for the large civilian casualties suffered in those cities that's easily explained by the fact that so few people were in air shelters at the time because it happened to be doctrine that air raid sirens were not sound for single bombers ( presumed to be scouts or stragglers).

Some shelter designs have been proved capable
of withstanding overpressures of more than 300
psi. (An overpressure of 200 psi would be sustained
at a distance of about 0.5 miles from
ground zero of a 1 -megaton airburst . I 3 ) In Operation
Plumbbob (carried out in Nevada in 1957),
cylindrical structures of 10-gauge corrugated steel
and of concrete sewer pipe were buried at depths
of 1.5 to 3.0 m (5 to 10 ft). Pressures as high as
149 psi and radiation in excess of 100,000 rad were
experienced above ground (as would occur at
about 1 km or 0.6 mile from ground zero of a
1 -megaton airb~rst’~), but there was negligible
deformation of all of the shelters and negligible
radiation levels were recorded inside .45(p84)
Many varieties of expedient shelters were tested


people were not aware of the awesome destructive
potential of a single bomb, and the air raid
alarms were not maintained upon the approach
of the airplane that was carrying it. In Nagasaki,
investigations showed that scarcely any of the
approximately 400 persons who were in tunnel
shelters at the time of the attack received burns
or serious injuries. This fact gives credibility to
the estimate that 30% of the deaths and injuries
could have been averted had the tunnel shelters
been filled to their rated ~apacity.~~(p~) Carefully
built shelters, though unoccupied, stood up well
in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 28(P237)
At Hiroshima, persons who were in buildings of
better construction had a fair chance of survival.
Between 0.5 and 1.25 km from ground zero,
where casualties in the open ranged from 90% to
loo%, the casualties in buildings varied with the
degree of structural damage (among other factors).
In buildings sustaining light damage, 51 % of the
occupants escaped injury. 13(p547)

Myth: In the worst-hit parts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where all buildings were demolished, everyone was killed by blast, radiation, or fire.

° Facts: In Nagasaki, some people survived uninjured who were far inside tunnel shelters built for conventional air raids and located as close as one-third mile from ground zero (the point directly below the explosion). This was true even though these long, large shelters lacked blast doors and were deep inside the zone within which all buildings were destroyed. (People far inside long, large, open shelters are better protected than are those inside small, open shelters.)

Many earth-covered family shelters were essentially undamaged in areas where blast and fire destroyed all buildings. Figure 1.5 shows a typical earth covered, backyard family shelter with a crude wooden frame. This shelter was essentially undamaged, although less than 100 yards from ground zero at Nagasaki.4 The calculated maximum overpressure (pressure above the normal air pressure) was about 65 pounds per square inch (65 psi). Persons inside so small a shelter without a blast doorwould have been killed by blast pressure at this distance from the explosion. However, in a recent blast test,5 an earth-covered, expedient Small-Pole Shelter equipped with blast doors was undamaged at 53 psi. The pressure rise inside was slight not even enough to have damaged occupants' eardrums. If poles are available, field tests have indicated that many families can build such shelters in a few days.

The great life-saving potential of blast-protective shelters has been proven in war and confirmed by blast tests and calculations. For example, the area in which the air bursting of a 1-megaton weapon would wreck a 50-psi shelter with blast doors in about 2.7 square miles. Within this roughly circular area, practically all them occupants of wrecked shelters would be killed by blast, carbon monoxide from fires, or radiation. The same blast effects would kill most people who were using basements affording 5 psi protection, over an area of about 58 square miles.6

With national effort consuming just a fraction of the defense spending the US has done over the last fifty years there is no reason why a 95% or more of the US population could not only have survived a nuclear exchange but emerged from their shelters with food and resources enough to repair the damage and continue the war to it's eventual end. Nuclear wars will essentially turn out to be like other wars in that whichever side is best prepared at the outset, and willing to sustain casualties in the long run , will force the other side to a negotiated settlement.


posted on Apr, 21 2008 @ 10:43 PM
From my military days, I remember that there were three types of burst. 1.Air (above ground) 2. surface(detonates on the surface) 3. sub surface (exploded under ground). We were taught the three's of danger from atomic weapons: 1. Heat comes first and incinerates everything in a radius depending on the kilo or mega ton of the device. 2. Blast- the initial blast sends out almost a hurricane type wind with contamination. as the mushroom cloud starts to form, it sucks everything into the cloud back from the initial blast into the cloud. 3. Fallout- radiation settles back to earth and spreads through wind and debris and atmospheric conditions. Mountains are a natural deterent to atomic blast as proven by nagasaki Japan which was deadly but not as bad as Hiroshima. We were always told to hit a ditch,culvert, or anything lower than ground level to survive the initial blast and heat. Radiation seemed to be an after-thought to the military way of thinking.

posted on Apr, 22 2008 @ 07:19 AM
There seems to be a lot of confusion about nuclear weapons effects in this (and other) threads, so I might as well add to it.

One thing that needs to be established 'off the bat' is a definition of "destroyed". I know that sounds silly, but it really isn't. Do you consider a city 'destroyed' if its social and / or political structure is disrupted? In that case, a single nuclear device of just about any size will do the trick in the short to medium time frame.

If you consider a city 'destroyed' when there's nothing left standing, you're going to need a blast effects calculator.

Ask, and ye shall receive:
FAS Nuclear Effects Calculator (Java Applet)

Now, just drop in the size of your nuclear device. Remember that most of the nuclear weapons currently in use are in the 'under 1 MT' yield range. The W87 (current Minuteman warhead) is 300Kt, and that "Air Burst" is the most effective employment for 'city busting'.

You may need to make adjustments for terrain features as well, but those are a bit beyond the scope of an online calculator. If you can find a copy of the book "The Curve of Binding Energy", it had prints of declassified DoD maps showing probable targeting patterns for U.S. cities, based on 1MT warheads....the numbers needed were somewhat surprising. If memory serves, St. Louis Missouri needed five to totally flatten the entire urban area, and Los Angeles (thanks to its sprawling layout) needed over a dozen.

posted on Apr, 22 2008 @ 07:55 AM
reply to post by Brother Stormhammer

I was just going to post that FAS site

It's not just the cities that are targeted, for example in St Louis MO the Boeing factories are targeted, Lambert Airport is targeted, the Harpoon missile factory just North of St Louis is targeted, Scott Air Force base just South East of St Louis is targeted also every single lock and dam along the Mississippi are also targeted.

Here is another Nuclear Weapon Effects Calculator and here is a state by state list of some targets Civil Defense Now - Potential US Targets! Good site and new was just posted today.

In a all out nuclear assault this is what would happen to Missouri:

Anywhere East of KC would be a Bad place to be, there would be a massive radiation cloud heading east.

[edit on 22-4-2008 by LDragonFire]

posted on Apr, 22 2008 @ 10:09 AM
nice map - for those who want to know - that big patch of impact sites next to kansas city is the Whiteman AFB - which used to house the 351st missile wing - with 150 Minuteman II missiles , and each silo is targetted for a `direct` (within CEP) hit.

These have now been de-activated in accordance withe the STARTII treaty and is now home to the B2.

posted on Apr, 22 2008 @ 08:49 PM

Originally posted by masqua
reply to post by Breifne

Russia, I don't believe, can compare to China's ability to survive an exchange. If it was an exchange between Russia and America, there is no doubt the Chinese would rule the world for centuries afterwards simply because they have the sufficient numbers in population.

Based upon what the U.S. has stated No one is more prepared than Russia, please show me your sources and I'll show you mine.

posted on Apr, 22 2008 @ 09:01 PM
Personally, i'm willing to wager that on average it would take between 3 to 5 nukes to fully eradicate a city (this includes waterworks, various sewer systems, and possible secret underground bunkers kept in the city because of the civilian population providing a deterrent against hostile activity).

Naturally, if you're above ground, you can probably expect to be dead by the time the second nuke hits - the rest of it is just scorched earth protocol.

One rather suspect source details the official data that we have on the U.S Nuclear stockpile (obviously this data will be slightly difficult to verify) with the most powerful being the Minuteman III - an entry states that "The 500 Minuteman IIIs are based at Malmstrom, Minot, and F E Warren Air Force Bases -- those currently at Grand Forks AFB will be transferred out by April 1998" (obviously the source is a little dated).

The source informs the reader that the Minuteman III's maximum yield is over 300 kilotons, depending on whether or not it has a "W87 upgrade".

Rather interesting to note that some of the greatest weapons ever created are just sitting there, gathering dust.

p.s; For a large city, or a city-state, i'd estimate it would take a dozen or so nuclear weapons in order to annihilate everything.

[edit on 22-4-2008 by Anti-Tyrant]

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