Nuclear deterrence and the B-1 bomber

Four black-and-white posters, each 17”h x 22”w and comprising a title and four panels, executed in a cartoon style.

Unrecorded set of posters extolling the necessity and benefits of America’s strategy of nuclear deterrence and the importance of the B-1 bomber thereto.

Given the vast sums and many stakeholders, major military procurement programs are inherently controversial, and the B-1 nuclear-capable bomber was no exception. It was in fact cancelled by President Carter in 1977 due to skyrocketing costs and questions about its ability to survive Soviet air defenses. The program was restarted by President Reagan in 1981, and ultimately 100 planes were delivered. They were converted in the 1990s for use as conventional bombers and remain in service today.

Based on internal evidence, this suite of four posters was produced in the early-mid 1970s, while the program was still fighting for its life. They are unsigned and bear no publisher’s imprint, but best guess is that they were issued either by the Air Force or Rockwell International, which held the B-1 contract.

The suite is designed around a series of 16 pictorial panels in a cartoonish style, four to a poster, numbered more-or-less sequentially (The second poster begins, oddly, with panel #6 rather than #5, with the result that the last poster ends with #17.) The first poster explains the importance of nuclear deterrence policy, quotes both Washington and Lincoln, and concludes “Only if we have both the capability and the determination can deterrence be believable.” The second argues that a credible deterrence policy yields “reduced political tension,” “improved international understanding,” and “communication.” The argument is reinforced by a persuasive map in the lower-left panel, which features the United States and Soviet Union clasping hands across the Atlantic.

The third poster focuses in on the B-1 itself, touting its range of capabilities and many advantages over the B-52. The final poster, “Economic Results of the B-1” argues that the program will have the added benefit of forcing the Soviet Union to increase its own defense spending, thereby placing further stress on its economy.

Three of the four not in OCLC (May 2018); the fourth, “Deterrence,” is not searchable given the simple title and lack of information about author or publisher.


Old folds (as issued?), else excellent.