Got a Bicycle Key? Let’s Activate a British Nuke

Until the late 1990s, the last air-delivered nuclear bomb in Britain’s arsenal, a weapon known as the WE.177, was fully armed with the turn of a simple bicycle key.

If you haven’t seen a WE.177 undergoing a simulated activation sequence, watch the video on the last link in our Reference Index. It’s frightening, considering World War III could have been triggered by some lone nut getting his hands on an ordinary key that fits into a bicycle lock.

No intricate codes were necessary when arming a WE.177.


A WE.177 training unit for instructional purposes. Identical to war stock but inert; i.e., does not contain any fissile materials, explosives or other hazardous components  Source:

There was, however, a metal panel one needed to open in order to gain access to the lock that housed the key.

“Whew!” you breathe a sigh of relief, as you assume this precautionary measure must’ve provided ample protection from terrorists.

Guess again. This panel, itself, had no lock on it, and could be pried open with a fingernail.

Makes ya’ feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it? It’s gotta be a miracle some GED-huggin’ military moron with more stripes than a zebra hasn’t bombed us all into the Stone Age already.

Hugh Mungus

© 2010. Hugh Mungus

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