Giant Submarines With Huge Guns
A century ago submarines presented as much of a challenge for naval war planners as drones do today. Like airborne and surface stealth decades later, underwater stealth was a game-changer — but how to use it? Until the missile age, a wide variety of naval missions and vessels tried... Read more
The Death Star That Might Have Been
A long time ago in an era much like ours, the United States poured billions into its “Star Wars” missile defense program. What those billions actually bought is still highly classified, so much so that we know very little about the various exotic space weapons conceived during the late Cold War. One... Read more
The Plot to Nuke Japan’s Fleet
Less than a year after the formal end of World War II the United States tested its new superweapons in peacetime. Operation Crossroads in 1946 at Bikini Atoll tested the effects of nuclear weapons on naval fleets and harbors. While burrowing through the vast Manhattan Project archives historian Alex Wellerstein turned... Read more
His Majesty’s Scary Steam Subs
Like the airplane, the submarine evolved in the early 20th century into a real weapon. But for the British Royal Navy, this posed a dilemma. The Admiralty’s battle plan for its revolutionary new dreadnoughts foresaw high-speed clashes between rival fleets armed with very-long-range guns. The new dreadnoughts and battlecruisers launching from... Read more
America Had a Problem With Its Nuclear Warheads Freezing
The U.S. Air Force is once again pushing for a nuclear-armed cruise missile to “fill the gap” between heavy bombers and ballistic missiles. The W-80 warhead will be the missile’s business end. The flying branch’s push comes during the largest planned overhaul of America’s nuclear arsenal in decades. Aside from the... Read more
Hellburners Were the Renaissance’s Tactical Nukes
Some of the largest non-nuclear explosions on record — in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1917, Port Chicago, California in 1944 and Texas City, Texas in 1947 — involved huge accidental blasts at harbors and aboard ships. But what if a similar explosion occurred by intent rather than accident? A really... Read more
This U.S. Navy Warship Shot Down MiGs and Pranked the Soviets
Originally published on April 13, 2015. During the Cold War, many lesser-known confrontations occurred at sea — away from the headlines and major crises. This was certainly true for the crew of the U.S. Navy’s Belknap-class guided-missile cruiser USS Biddle. The warship sailed into the thick of the Vietnam... Read more
Remember When Australia Pretend-Nuked a Rainforest?
During the Cold War, nuclear states tested atomic weapons in almost every conceivable environment — deserts, oceans, space, islands. Scientists already knew nukes’ effects on cities. But how would they affect jungles? The Australian government wanted to know. So in July 1963 Australia conducted a simulated nuclear test in... Read more
These Weird Warplanes Didn’t Need Runways
Originally published on July 29, 2013. Warplanes’ biggest vulnerability is their runways. Modern airfields are no match for modern weapons; bunker-busting munitions can crater the thickest concrete. There was a brief period after World War II when the U.S. military thought it had a solution: simply design planes that... Read more
How America’s Airline Went to War
Originally published on Jan. 4, 2015. Now only a distant memory, Pan American Airways once flew so high that even the moon seemed within its grasp. Its advanced technology, skilled workforce and global reach were the envy of its competitors. It had such a wide reach around the world,... Read more
  • 100% ad free experience
  • Get our best stories sent to your inbox every day
  • Membership to private Facebook group
Show your support for continued hard hitting content.
Priced at $19.99 per year, the first 200 people to sign up will receive a free War is Boring T-Shirt.
Become a War is Boring subscriber