Nuclear Weapons Display
At the height of the cold war a key part of Britain’s nuclear preparedness and capability was the WE 177 free fall nuclear weapon and Submarine launched Polaris Missile system. If there had been a nuclear attack on the UK, incoming missile maps would come alive, and time to impact displays would flash the deadly countdown to our nuclear Armageddon. Attack-warning sirens would sound throughout the UK. This would be followed by a fail-safe command system, which would ultimately end in the executive coded order being given by the Prime Minister to launch a retaliatory attack. Incidentally you can see the equipment used by the Prime Minister to transmit the launch orders at the bunker at Hack Green. Our Polaris submarines would fire their missiles.
The V-Force strike bombers would fly at supersonic speed to deliver the deadly WE 177 nuclear weapons to our enemies. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the cold war ended. 1999 saw the WE 177-weapon system de-commissioned, with the Polaris system now up-dated to the new Trident multiple warhead system, in order to maintain our readiness for an attack. The WE 177 weapons and the first generation of multiple warhead missiles “Project Chevaline”, that had served so well at the forefront of the defence of Britain had gone forever. Gone but not forgotten! Determined to save this vital link with Britains nuclear past Rodney Siebert the curator at Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker in Nantwich Cheshire began a project that led to these vital pieces of recent history being saved for the nation. The true story of Britain’s readiness for nuclear war could at last be told. The WE 177 nuclear weapons were dismantled, and in the darkness of the missile bunkers lay a cold war time warp.
The nations nuclear defence frozen in time, when the nuclear clock stopped ticking and our nuclear weapons starting to gather dust.
Almost all of the deadly WE 177 nuclear weapons had been dismantled. They were still hidden deep underground and behind high security fences, guarded by armed guards and guard dogs. Rodney approached the government and the ministry of defence for help and the wheels of government started to turn at the highest levels. The Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston found the last two remaining WE 177 400-kiloton nuclear weapons. A weapon that has many times the power of the nuclear weapons used at Nagasaki and Hiroshima during world war two. A Polaris warhead was also found and a joint project with the Defence Procurement Agency at Bristol was begun to save the multiple warhead system “Chevaline”.
During 1999 in much secrecy, remembering that AWE Aldermaston is still amongst the UK’s most secret sites, technicians carefully dismantled the last remaining operational WE 177 nuclear weapons. In March 1999 an unmarked RAF transport moved the WE 177 and Polaris nuclear weapons quietly to the bunker whilst it was closed to the public. These weapons were joined by a project Chevaline weapon, the first generation of the current Trident nuclear system.
Now from April 2004 the public can for the first time see the ultra-secret weapons that only a few of the UK’s military commanders and defence staff have been privileged to see. You will see and be close to a real thermonuclear weapon, which if detonated over a Russian city could have killed millions in a blinding flash. But don’t worry it has been made quite safe now. If anyone doubts that the Soviet threat was real and that the government had the weapons to defend it’s people, visit Hack Green Bunker to see for yourself. When I spoke to Rodney about the bunker’s success and it’s new acquisitions. He said:
“I’m thrilled that so many have enjoyed what I set out to do. It is of national importance that Britain’s cold war heritage is preserved for future generations, so that they can see how close we came to oblivion. The cold war is over, and the nuclear holocaust we all feared never happened yet. We have real weapons of mass destruction here at the bunker and not many people have ever been close to a real nuclear bomb. Although they are quite busy at present I have been in discussions with the Pentagon in the USA to try and acquire a real nuclear cruise missile to augment what I am told is the largest collection of nuclear weapons outside of the government’s own private collection. Who knows what you will see next when you visit?”