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The first nuclear weapons were gravity bombs dropped from heavy bomber aircraft. Aerial bombs have continued to have a role in nuclear arsenals even after ballistic missiles were developed and assumed a more primary role in worldwide arsenals. Nuclear bombs are here differentiated from other nuclear weapons in that they are delivered by means of gravity bombs from aircraft, as opposed to missiles or artillery. Over the course of the Cold War, a wide variety of nuclear bombs were produced by all sides, in tandem with rapid developments in the bombers that would carry them. Variations in bomb design allowed for weapons of radically different explosive yields, sizes, and shapes, allowing for diverse strategic and tactical applications. This entry examines U.S. and Soviet Cold War–era ...

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