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Where '51' may have come from

From: (Glenn Campbell, Las Vegas)
Date: Fri, 7 Mar 1997 09:19:36 -0800
Subject: Where '51' may have come from

Date: Wed, 23 Oct 1996 20:49:25 -0700
From: [withheld]
Subject: How numbering area 51 may have come to be...


I am a former member of the USAF, involved with the nuclear weapons
program between 84-92.  I was also an instructor for the Nuclear
Weapons Specialist School at Lowry AFB during this tenure.

My experience with the numbering of weapons systems is tied to my
clearance with Sandia and Livermore labs and my having to teach simple
facts to new recruits.  One of the most highly asked questions was "how
in the hell do they figure out numbers for these weapon systems?"  Well,
when I went to Sandia I asked this question to the engineers I met.
They told me that they simply attatched a number to a weapon system
based on the year that it was supposed to be on line.  For instance, the
Peacekeeper missile system was to be online on or about 1989.  The
nuclear warhead design for the Peacekeeper was termed "W89".  Get it?  A
nuclear bomb called the B53 was basically designed in the late 40's,
early 50's, but became operational in 1953.  This kind of numbering
system spilled over to aircraft design for a limited time also (B52,
B57, B47(canberra); all basically numbered for the year a weapon system
became operational.

Now, of course, aircraft design has taken it's own path to designate
newer weapons systems (F15,F16,F117,B1,B2etc.).  This is mainly because
of the turnover in fresh engineers in the aviation industry.  With
nuclear weapons, the pool of engineers is still thinking in the late
50's to early 40's.  Which brings me to my point:  During the time that
Area 51 was being concieved, the hallmark of American military security
and weapons design, operation, and study was the Nuclear Weapons
Program.  Every engineer followed their protocols to the exactness of
which they had proceduralized, from aircraft design, to tank design, to
tools that were supposed to support these things and I would dare say to
even a remote and secret site in the Nevada desert.  Don't go looking
for any Area 52,53,54etc.  As for the anomolous Area 13, it could be
that when the place was concieved, there was no system in place, or
there was someone else calling the shots on what would be named what.
Just keep an open mind to the fact that there is probably some inane,
unsensible reason as to why the place is called what it is.

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