Can a railgun be modified to shoot a small nuclear bomb?

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Offline ...lets split up...

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Hi, i was busy making pizza when i suddenly had a completely unrelated thought to my task in hand.

I'm not too clued up on nuclear weapons, but i was wondering, would it be possible to shoot a tiny "live" uranium pellet through a railgun and have it detonate on impact?

Would the impact activate it or would it explode before leaving the barrel, if at all?

I think it would make an awesome weopon. Like sharks with lasers attached to their heads.
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Offline LeeE

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Can a railgun be modified to shoot a small nuclear bomb?
« Reply #1 on: 23/02/2010 17:01:19 »
Do you mean would the force of impact compress the U enough that the lump became super-critical?

I don't think so.  The depleted Uranium used by the A-10's cannon acts as a penetrator i.e. it passes through armour rather than being compressed by the impact, so I would expect fissionable U to do the same.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline lightarrow

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Can a railgun be modified to shoot a small nuclear bomb?
« Reply #2 on: 23/02/2010 19:00:51 »
Do you mean would the force of impact compress the U enough that the lump became super-critical?

I don't think so.  The depleted Uranium used by the A-10's cannon acts as a penetrator i.e. it passes through armour rather than being compressed by the impact, so I would expect fissionable U to do the same.
But maybe you could use a hollow mass of  235U fired at high speed against an appropriate target to achieve a critical mass, after all this is the way nuclear bombs work: the walls of a hollow sphere of fissile material are collapsed toward the centre with (conventional) explosive; the principle is the same. The problem is that the impact should by very higly simmetric to bring all walls together at the same instant.
« Last Edit: 23/02/2010 19:05:23 by lightarrow »

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Offline LeeE

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Can a railgun be modified to shoot a small nuclear bomb?
« Reply #3 on: 24/02/2010 10:38:53 »
I don't think a hollow mass would work very well because it would tend to flatten on impact, which would not produce the required mass and density combination for super-criticality.

Actually, a type of design that might work has occurred to me, but the risk of being picked up by the authorities, never to be heard from again, for disseminating a design for a relatively easily built nuclear device deters me from elaborating upon it.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline ...lets split up...

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Can a railgun be modified to shoot a small nuclear bomb?
« Reply #4 on: 24/02/2010 13:36:48 »
Yeah, you have to watch out for the infamous "Them". Sounds interesting though.

So, because you guys are talking shapes i assume the impact has enough energy. Maybe if you coat the uranium in a material to allow it to do the opposite of armor piercing rounds (lead coated spent uranium). So instead of facilitating penetration it stops it. Maybe the jacket shape, or the way it breaks or shatters could help with achieving super-critical by diverting the stopping force to the uranium itself. Maybe a ceramic something. But most likely i don't know what i'm saying.

All we need then is to make it hand held and it's the stuff computer games are made of.
« Last Edit: 25/02/2010 06:56:07 by ...lets split up... »
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Offline MAC251

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Can a railgun be modified to shoot a small nuclear bomb?
« Reply #5 on: 16/02/2011 03:56:56 »
Why are ya'll making a big deal about it.  There are already weapons big enough to fit in a railgun.  It was about 40kT.  The military decided not to use it though because whoever shot the weapon would be in the fallout path.

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Offline CliffordK

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Can a railgun be modified to shoot a small nuclear bomb?
« Reply #6 on: 16/02/2011 04:54:06 »
I don't think there is any reason not to have a rail-mounted rocket launcher.  Russia probably has hundreds of them.

As far as compressing a sphere...  For the WWII bombs, Fat Man had a sphere, Little Boy had a "gun-type" trigger mechanism. 

You still would have to make sure that the trigger compressed evenly, and at great force.  An impact could cause it to jam.

A "charge" would probably be better for forcing it to fire properly.

I believe that many bombs are detonated above ground which causes them to have wider spread.  I.E. You would get get a smaller explosion with an impact trigger.

Anyway, perhaps it would be better to brainstorm on better ways to share friendship rather than better ways to kill people.

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Offline McQueen

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Can a railgun be modified to shoot a small nuclear bomb?
« Reply #7 on: 27/02/2011 09:38:18 »
Hey,
I don't know about about delivery of nuclear bombs using rail guns. Rail guns were pretty huge. What I do know for a fact is that the US Army actually built recoilless guns that could be carried by one or two men for nuclear device delivery. Can you believe that ? I have the actual US Army record somewhere here on my files. 
“Sometimes a concept is baffling not because it is profound but because it’s wrong.”

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Offline McQueen

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Can a railgun be modified to shoot a small nuclear bomb?
« Reply #8 on: 07/04/2011 17:14:50 »
Hi,
I found the link I was looking for.  It is, if you think about it, quite an amazing development. It was called the Davy Crockett recoilless gun.
http://www.guntruck.com/DavyCrockett.html

« Last Edit: 07/04/2011 17:17:12 by McQueen »
“Sometimes a concept is baffling not because it is profound but because it’s wrong.”

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Offline BoeingJet

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Re: Can a railgun be modified to shoot a small nuclear bomb?
« Reply #9 on: 09/02/2017 12:38:22 »
True, nuclear weapons could be modified to withstand the high g-s the railgun is producing, in fact, we already have that technology. During reentry, MIRVs could reach up to 30Gs and still remain in one piece (well not now anymore). The problem with that simply is, could the tamper of the nuclear device survive. Most nuclear devices have a magnetic tamper, and railguns might just pull the entire shell and tamper out, leaving behind the uranium.




Please think of how could we plus MIRVs with Railguns!

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Offline syhprum

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Re: Can a railgun be modified to shoot a small nuclear bomb?
« Reply #10 on: 14/02/2017 01:28:01 »
Nuclear bombs are very expensive to produce and are much better delivered by a guided missile.
I am sure the tall boy type weapon that used something like 100Kg of U235 of which only a few grams actually exploded is no longer produced long superseded by explosively compressed plutonium weapons. 
syhprum