The Swords of Armageddon : U.S. Nuclear Weapons Development since 1945 is the first and only comprehensive illustrated history of the post-World War II design, development, and testing of U.S. nuclear weaponry available to the public.

This unique 2,500 page CD-ROM and microfiche document will be updated periodically with new information.
Contents include:
A complete technical glossary
Description of weapons physics
Postwar technological innovations in fission weapon design
A history of American thermonuclear weaponry between 1942 and 1957
Individual nuclear warhead histories, including gravity bombs, artillery shells, missile and rocket warheads, anti-submarine weapons, and atomic demolition munitions
A history and description of warhead arming and fuzing techniques and equipment, including radar and barometric fuses, manual and automatic inflight insertion equipment, and Permissive Action Links
Three detailed appendices summarizing the objectives and results of U.S. nuclear tests between 1945 and 1962; warhead specifications; and typical nuclear weapons accidents between 1950 and 1981


Since 1945, the U.S. nuclear weapons program has included 60,000 warheads of 71 different types for 116 separate weapons systems. Another 29 designs were canceled before they reached production. By the end of 1992, the U.S. had detonated more than 1,000 nuclear explosions on the surface of the earth, underground, underwater, in the atmosphere, and in space over and under the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and in several states in the continental U.S.

The cost of this program has been staggering: over $89 billion in development costs and $700 billion for delivery systems. These nuclear warheads were fabricated by a vast administrative and materials production complex that spans the west coast from Washington to California and which ranges east across the country to the District of Columbia and south to Florida. Many thousands of persons have been and are employed by this network.

In spite of the massive size and scope of this weapons development effort, its products and activities have remained largely out of the public consciousness. This has been even more true since the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 which sent U.S. nuclear testing and, until just recently, most protest underground.


The information in the Swords of Armageddon is currently divided into seven volumes. Significant advances in postwar U.S. nuclear weapons described in these volumes are listed below.

Improvements in Fission Weapons

Boosting Linear Implosion
Composition Non-lensed HE ignition systems
Levitation External initiators
Penetrating weapons Sealed-pit weapons
Hollow implosion Tailored effect weapons
Improved high explosives (HE) Lightweight primaries
Interchangeability U-235 implosion
Improved reflectors & tampers Application of U-233

Improvements in Fusion Weapons

Clean weapons Lightweight high-yield weapons
Dirty weapons Radiation implosion
Enhanced radiation weapons Solid-fueled weapons
Improved secondary designs Three-stage weapons

Unattainable ideas

Classical Super Small clean tactical weapons
Pure-fusion devices Uranium hydride implosion

Volume I includes the front matter and a description of fission and fusion weapon physics, fuels, and weapon design and detonation principles. It now also includes what was in Volume II in Swords of Armageddon version one : the technology of postwar U.S. fission weapons development, comprising the application of specific materials and design techniques. These include improvements in high explosives; levitation and composition; the use of uranium hydride and uranium-233; hollow cores; interchangeability; linear implosion; tamper and reflector improvements; the development of internal and external neutron sources (initiators); and the development of boosted pits and primaries.

Volumes II, III, and IV, and  describe the development and testing of thermonuclear weapons between 1942 and the fall of 1957. These sections are written chronologically, and discuss several topics in parallel, including design advances in "clean" and dirty weapons; weapons testing; the debate over sharing of information with U.S. allies; and interface problems between weapons and their delivery vehicles.

The first two parts (Vols. II & III) of this U.S. hydrogen bomb history, covering the period between 1942 and mid-1954, describe the search for feasibility, and the development and tests of the first U.S. liquid-fueled and solid-fueled devices. Some of the highlights of these sections include:

The development of fission and fusion weapons by the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory

The development of deuterium, lithium, and tritium production facilities

The genesis of "dirty" and high-yield thermonuclear weapons

The origins and early program of the Livermore laboratory, including the controversy surrounding its establishment, and later efforts by LASL to gain control of the new lab

Early Department of Defense war plans for combat uses of thermonuclear weapons

The on-again, off-again plans for sharing of weapons information between the U.S. and Great Britain

Soviet reconnaissance of early U.S. Pacific tests, and efforts made by U.S. forces to thwart them

The effects of overclassification on the thermonuclear weapons program

Objectives, conduct, and results of early U.S. Nevada and Pacific nuclear tests, including RANGER, TUMBLER-SNAPPER, GREENHOUSE, IVY, UPSHOT-KNOTHOLE, DOMINO, and CASTLE, including details of the selection of test devices for GREENHOUSE and CASTLE

The repeated frustration of Atomic Energy Commission efforts to conceal results of the Pacific tests from the American public and the Soviets

Major decisions in the H-bomb program, including the October 1949 General Advisory Committee meeting and Truman's January 1950 directive

How steadily-increasing tritium requirements finally doomed the "classical Super"

The symbiosis of the Teller-Ulam H-bomb design concepts

The effects of the Korean War on Operations GREENHOUSE and IVY

The Department of Defense's "emergency capability" thermonuclear weapons deployment

Problems surrounding the mating of as-yet-undesigned weapons to delivery systems

Attacks by the Luce publishing empire on LASL and J. R. Oppenheimer

What the AEC was telling Congress, the public, and the President about the weapons development and weapons testing programs

Volume IV, the history of U.S. thermonuclear weapons between 1954 and late 1957, includes detailed descriptions of the objectives, conduct, and results of Operations REDWING and PLUMBBOB, including a lengthy exposition on the development of so-called "clean" weapons.

Volumes V and VI comprise individual warhead histories, including aircraft-delivered gravity bombs; nuclear artillery shells; missile and rocket warheads; anti-submarine weapons; and atomic demolition munitions.

Volume VII describes nuclear warhead and arming techniques and equipment, including radar and barometric fuses, manual and automatic inflight insertion equipment, and Permissive Action Links.
Also included in the latter volume are three detailed appendices which summarize the objectives and results of U.S. nuclear tests between 1945 and 1962; list warhead specifications; and describe typical nuclear weapons accidents between 1950 and 1981.