No. 13, March 11, 1958/B-47/Florence, South Carolina
On March 11, 1958 at 3:53 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, a B-47E departed Hunter
Air Force Base, Georgia as number three aircraft in a flight of four enroute to
an overseas base. After level off at 15,000 feet, the aircraft accidentally
jettisoned an unarmed nuclear weapon which impacted in a sparsely populated area
6-1/2 miles east of Florence, South Carolina. The bomb's high explosive material
exploded on impact. The detonation caused property damage and several injuries
on the ground. The aircraft returned to base without further incident. No
capsule or nuclear materials was aboard the B-47 or installed in the weapon.
CDI: Accounts of this widely reported accident describe the bomb falling
in garden of the home of Mr. Walter Gregg in Mars Bluff, S.C. The high explosive
detonation virtually destroyed his house creating a crater 50-70 feet in
diameter and 25-30 feet deep. It caused minor injuries to Mr. Gregg and five
members of his family, and additionally damaged five other houses and a church.
The clean-up effort required several days. Air Force personnel recovered
hundreds of pieces of bomb fragments that were carried off as souvenirs by local
residents. The inhabitants of Mars Bluff were examined for several months to see
if they had been exposed to any radiation. Five months later the Greeg family
was awarded $54,000 from the Air Force. After this accident Air Force crews were
ordered t "lock in" nuclear bombs. This reduced the possibility of
accidental drops but increased the hazards if the plane crashed.