"Efficiency and progress is ours once more,Ah, the neutron bomb; that miracle of modern science and engineering. Supposedly, a detonated neutron bomb has negligible if any explosive force but instead emits a pulse of deadly, somewhat non-specific radiation, that leaves things like buildings alone but kills everyone dead. That way, one can rid an area of some inconvenient group while still maintaining high property values. No issues with radioactive contamination/cleanup, either. The truth is very different. The Neutron Bomb is unique, and controversial, in that while other nuclear weapons indirectly generated radioactive fallout that could cause negative health effects, the Neutron Bomb was the first weapon to be specifically designed to use radiation to kill people. Although it differed from the inventor's original conception (a Samuel Cohen) the neutron bomb, as designed and built, was just a fancy tactical thermonuclear warhead. That's right; thermonuclear. It was a very small fusion bomb. However, while more conventional thermonuclear bombs have radiation casings which reflect neutrons back into the secondary and increase the explosive yield, a neutron bomb lacks this radiation casing; the neutrons are just allowed to escape. They don't contribute to increasing the explosive yield, which is thus relatively small; a neutron bomb will have an explosive yield of a few kilotons at most, although that still exceeds most conventional bombs by several orders of magnitude and is quite devastating. However, it means a particularly intense and deadly pulse of highly-penetrating immediate neutron radiation. Why would someone be interested in such a thing? It turns out that main battle tanks are surprisingly resistant to the blast and heat effects from a nuclear explosion, especially from a small tactical device. Both sides would probably limit themselves to relatively small devices for tactical use, mainly because they'd want to avoid collateral damage to their own forces, who'd be present in close proximity. However, with the neutron radiation increased (the technical term for a neutron bomb is "enhanced-radiation warhead") they can penetrate MBT armor and kill the crews inside. The Cold War applications are obvious: nuking population centers is not such a great land-grab method, but deploying tanks is, and Russia had plenty of tanks. Now, Cohen's original vision was for a similar device; presumably it would be somewhat larger and emit more neutron radiation. The burst parameters (yield, height of burst, etc.) would be carefully managed to minimize damage on the surface; however, the neutron bomb would emit enough of a pulse of radiation that it would kill everything on the ground in a substantial radius from the hypocenter. Cohen intended this to be a humanitarian weapon; civilians could retreat into underground shelters and be protected and when they emerged, although they'd find a lot of dead plants and animals, they wouldn't have to cope with as much in the way of devastation. The soldiers, though, wouldn't have that option, and would be killed; so, this was supposed to be a discriminate, humanitarian weapon. There are some doubts about its effectiveness, though; it would have to be detonated at high altitude to minimize explosive damage effects, but at such a high altitude the atmosphere might absorb most of the neutrons before they could reach the surface and do their work. Cohen made some claims to the contrary, but he's a little, well...credibility-wise, he could use some work in some respects. In addition, Soviet tanks were up-armoured to counter the potential threat of such a weapon before any neutron bomb was ever tested, let alone fielded. Then again, much of the armor for American tanks is depleted uranium, which is worse than useless at stopping fusion neutrons. It'll absorb the neutrons, all right, but in doing so, the U-238 nuclei will fast fission, which will actually increase the dose received by the crew. The reasoning behind putting fuel tanks in the sides and doors of certain Soviet APC and AFV designs was supposedly neutron protection. Armor is bad at stopping neutrons, but hydrogen-heavy diesel fuel excels at it. There was also the concern that given the nature of radiation poisoning there would have been a significant amount of 'walking ghost' cases who would remain functional for few days but whose eventual death was certain. Studies showed such troops would most likely react by attacking ferociously, attempting to do as much damage to the enemy as possible before they succumbed to their fate. The Soviet Union described the Neutron Bomb as "a capitalist weapon" because it was designed to destroy people while preserving their property. (And because they didn't have one of their own.) They even called it the "landlord bomb". It should be really evident by this point that any landlord who used a neutron bomb to free up a building would be left with a building too radioactive to rent to anyone, if it wasn't blown up. See also: Biological Weapons Solve Everything.
Now that we have the Neutron Bomb,
It's nice and quick and clean and gets things done."
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