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A gorgeous noir-like cutaway of an atomic pile by Alexander Leydenfrost.  But why does the drawing look so vague and devoid of details?

Partially, that was the Leydenfrost style.  His Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel cutaway drawing shows that he emphasized moody shadows and light over the cool and the technical.

But mainly, at the time of this illustration, atomic production was still a closely guarded secret.  So Leydenfront had to imagine what a pile must look like based on scant information from The Smyth Report.

Published in July 1945, the Smyth Report, officially known as The Official Report on the Development of the Atomic Bomb Under the Auspices of the United States Government, provided a technical, though generalized, overview of the production of nuclear weapons.

Click to Enlarge to 1609 x 766 px:

Atomic Pile Cutaway 1950

Atomic Pile Cutaway 1950

Source:  LIFE February 27, 1950

Artist unknown, as this was a tossed-off illustration in the middle of a Popular Science, but what interested me:

  1. This is one helluva massive radio station.
  2. It’s still around.

It’s called the Jim Creek Naval Radio Station, and the Center for Land Use Interpretation tells us:

One of the world’s most powerful transmitters, this million watt Navy radio facility communicates with submarines at sea using very low frequency radio waves. Built in 1953 in the foothills of the northern Cascades, ten massive antenna cables, all more than a mile long, span the Jim Creek valley, suspended by twenty 200 foot tall towers.

Click to Enlarge to 927 x 757 px:

Jim Creek Naval Transmitting Station 1950

Jim Creek Naval Transmitting Station 1950

Its proper name was the Mark VII Attack Teacher and it was housed in a 3 story building in New London, CT.

In an age before computers could process graphics, vehicle and nautical simulations had to be done with models.

Trainees sat in a submarine mockup on the second floor, with a periscope jutting up into the third floor.  On that third floor was a terrazzo tile floor–each square representing 1,000 yards–with remote control wired cars made up to look like little submarines.

Operators in the control room would plot enemy courses with the aid of mainframe computers.

The model was so accurate that it even duplicated the curvature of the Earth.

Click to Enlarge to 895 x 607 px:

Dry Land Submarine Trainer 1950

Dry Land Submarine Trainer 1950

Represented below is a closeup of the terrazzo floor, showing that one ship (#5) is within 2,000 yards of the periscope.  Note wires extending from ships.

 

Submarine Trainer Simulation Floor 1950

Submarine Trainer Simulation Floor 1950

Source:  Popular Science January 1950

This Quonset hut-style hospital was kept inflated by compressed air from a utility unit.  Standing 20 x 52 feet, this portable hospital’s utility unit provided the positive air flow, power, heat, hot and cold water, and most welcome in the Southeast Asia jungles–air conditioning.

Note:  poor alignment of pages cuts off part of structure.

Click to Enlarge to 1269 x 460 px:

Inflatable Vietnam War-Era Quonset Hut Cutaway, 1967

Inflatable Vietnam War-Era Quonset Hut Cutaway, 1967

Source:  Popular Science July 1967

Titan Missile Underground Launch Complex

The Titan II Missile Underground Launch Complex (Large Image) is classic Cold War-era cutaway stuff.  At the Titan Missile Museum in Arizona, you can tour the entire facility.  As their brochure states:

The Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) was the first liquid propellant missile that could be launched from underground. Equipped with a nine-megaton thermonuclear warhead, the Titan II was capable of reaching its target—more than half a world away—in less than thirty minutes. The preserved Titan II missile site, officially known as complex 571-7, was completed and turned over to the U.S. Air Force in 1963. Until 1987, when the last Titan II was deactivated, 54 Titan II
missile complexes across the United States stood “on alert” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A cutaway from Fortune Magazine (1960) is a bit more artful and fanciful, and looks more like the cover of a sci-fi paperback than a true cutaway:

Titan Missile