NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL AND
December 16, 2008: The B-52 is
upgrading its nuclear window shades. The original ones, which depended on ropes
and pulleys to put sunshades over the inside of cockpit windows after a nuclear
weapon was dropped (to prevent too much heat and light from the detonation from
getting in), never worked well, and have long since fallen into disuse.
Instead, crews bought the same kind of thermal shades used automobile
windshields, and used those just to keep the aircraft cool while parked in
But now the U.S. Air Force is getting
serious about B-52 use in nuclear warfare, and part of that preparation includes
new "thermal curtains" for the half century old bomber. The new, seven shade
set, costs $2,500, and is normally kept in a storage bag. Twice a year, there
will be a drill, in which the "thermal curtains" will be taken out and
deployed. The rest of the time, the crew will use new, cheaper, sun shades
(costing about $300 a set) for just keeping the interior cooler when the sun
(another nuclear explosion, actually) is bright, hot and shining through the 13
windows on the aircraft.
The new shades and "thermal curtains"
will be issued to aircraft next year.