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originally posted by: Arnie123
Can you imagine? Small nuclear "football" shaped munitions?
How big is the actual core of a nuke? Isn't is the size of a softball?
The pit, named after the hard core found in fruits such as peaches and apricots, is the core of an implosion nuclear weapon – the fissile material and any neutron reflector or tamper bonded to it. Some weapons tested during the 1950s used pits made with U-235 alone, or in composite with plutonium, but all-plutonium pits are the smallest in diameter and have been the standard since the early 1960s.
More modern plutonium pits are hollow. An often-cited specification applicable to some modern pits describes a hollow sphere of a suitable structural metal, of the approximate size and weight of a bowling ball, with a channel for injection of tritium (in the case of boosted fission weapons), with the internal surface lined with plutonium. The size, usually between a bowling ball and a tennis ball, accuracy of sphericity, and weight and isotopic composition of the fissile material, the principal factors influencing the weapon properties, are often classified. The hollow pits can be made of half shells with three joint welds around the equator, and a tube brazed (to beryllium or aluminium shell) or electron beam or TIG-welded (to stainless steel shell) for injection of the boost gas. Beryllium-clad pits are more vulnerable to fracture, more sensitive to temperature fluctuations, more likely to require cleaning, susceptible to corrosion with chlorides and moisture, and can expose workers to toxic beryllium.