Strategic warfare
December 18, 2010 9:05 PM   Subscribe

How many atomic weapons did the United States military have by 1948.

Looking for primary sources that are open and on the internet. Periodicals and book links welcomed.
posted by clavdivs to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This source says 110.
posted by lukemeister at 9:32 PM on December 18, 2010

this graph of stockpiles from 1945 to 1996 isn't too useful, since 1948 is a single pixel tall, but it references the sources "Robert S. Norris and Thomas B. Cochran, US and USSR/Russian Strategic Offensive Nuclear Forces, 1945-1996" and "Robert S. Norris and William M. Arkin, "NRDC Nuclear Notebook (Global Nuclear Stockpiles, 1945-1997)," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 1997" that might include what you're after.
posted by russm at 9:37 PM on December 18, 2010

The Obama administration publicly disclosed the historical and current size of the US strategic nuclear stockpile for the first time in history in May 2010 (it was big news then). As always the Federation of American Scientists have the details. The graph is frustratingly unclear about the actual size of the stockpile in 1948.

Ah, I'm getting closer to the truth. If you open the US DoD's press release you find out that the numbers prior to 1962 were released by the Department of Energy.

And here is the DoE's version of the press release. The graph is still, frustratingly, imprecise (why can't people figure out that real graphs don't need 3D bars but they actually need to be valid as a basis for analysis?).

For the life of me I can't figure out why the graphs suck so hard. I'm sure you could email the DoE and get the raw numbers; doesn't get more primary than that, right?
posted by asymptotic at 3:26 AM on December 19, 2010

Best answer: Oh wow I suck at reading. In the DoE's press release is a link to the table of raw data. Apparently the number of nuclear weapons up to 1948 was already declassified, and is 50.
posted by asymptotic at 3:36 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

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