Friday, February 8, 2013

Gem of the Week - On-Demand Printing

The Big One, by Stuart Slade. World War II went very differently, with England basically surrendering after Dunkirk, immediately drawing the USA into the war. With the Western front secure, Germany was able to focus on the Russian front. They captured Moscow (and killed Stalin, good riddance) but were stopped short of the Urals by the combined Russian and American armies, where they stalemated for five years.

One day in 1947, that changed. On that day, over a thousand planes were launched from bases all along the East Coast of the United states, carrying over 200 Mark III atomic bombs. These were upgraded from the Mk3 used in our timeline, with a typical yield of 35kT instead of the 20kT of Trinity and Fat Man. The main bombers were B-36s, with four bombs each. Each bomber had two escorts, also B-36s.

That smaller plane to the left is a B-29. To put it mildly, the B-36 is a large aircraft.

Interestingly, once the bombers were over Germany, they turned on Salvage Fuses, which would set the bombs off once they reached 2000ft, even if still in the plane. So even shooting down a bomber won't save you. In fact, the second blast was due to this very effect. That's just mean...

One hundred fifteen bombs are accounted for in the book, including twelve for Berlin, eight for Munich, and twenty-five between Dortmund and Bonn. Two were in the Frankfurt area, one in Koblenz, one in Heidelberg, but none in Rothenberg. Estimated casualties are twenty million immediate fatalities and probably that many again from radiation, lingering injuries, illness, and the collapse of civilization and famine caused thereby. The population of Germany was about 60 million in 1945, real world timeline.

It's an interesting story, but it has some holes in it, like how in the world did General Groves keep Manhattan secret for two additional years while they built up the stockpile? I got the book largely to see the answer to that question, but I didn't find it. Also, I am surprised they didn't base in Russia. However looking at the map, it is almost as far from the Front to Germany as it is all the way from America.

But none of that is the Gem. I found out about the Big One on the TV Tropes Wiki in late January, and after failing to find the story in free form on the net, I decided to shell out and buy the book on Friday, 1 Feb 2013. The last page of the book is marked:

Made in the USA
Lexington, KY
02 February 2013

The book was made after I ordered it. It seems that it was literally made for me.

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