Mark 17 Thermonuclear Bomb

Mark 17 Thermonuclear Bomb

The MK-17 was the first operational USAF thermonuclear "H-Bomb" (The "H" refers to the hydrogen which was fused under intense heat conditions to produce unprecedented energy yields).

The MK-17 was carried by B-36s and was in service from 1954 until 1957. By today's standards, it was extremely large and heavy. It had a casing 3 1/2 inches thick, a length of 24 feet 10 inches, diameter of 5 feet 2 inches and a loaded weight of 41,400 pounds. When the bomb was test-dropped, pilots said the bomber might soar upward several hundred feet, having been lightened of such a load.

The MK-17 had an explosive force (yield) in the megaton (one million tons of TNT) range. A 64-foot ribbon chute stabilized the MK-17 bomb when dropped and slowed its descent, giving the bomber greater time to escape the area of detonation. (Note: a plastic cover has been added to protect the parachute while on display.)