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The Balance of Terror

Weapons of the Cold War

A staircase then leads you down to the basement, in the half-light of a steel and concrete crypt, where you find the imposing silhouette of a Soviet jet-fighter: the symbolic MIG-21 which ubiquitous during the Cold War.

A staircase then leads you down to the basement, in the half-light of a steel and concrete crypt, where you find the imposing silhouette of a Soviet jet-fighter, the symbolic MIG-21 which was used widely during the Cold War. In front is an American thermonuclear bomb, sitting inert on a trolley, with a megaton’s worth of power (50 times that of Hiroshima), the very one that equipped all B-52 bombers kept in the air round-the-clock. Before leaving this troubling room, spend a moment before a third weapon, French this time, fitted into its launch silo: the nuclear warhead of a SSBSS3 thermonuclear missile, from the Albion Plateau launch site in Haute-Provence.

On 17 January 1966, a B-52 bomber of the US Air Force carrying 4 H bombs collided with its supply plane over Spain. Three of the bombs fell without exploding but contaminated a vast expanse of farmland. The fourth, destroyed at sea, would only be found after an 81-day search.