One of the things that is fascinating about the cold war is the absolute primacy that nuclear weapons took in military minds over all other considerations, and the ever more intricate measures designed to compensate for various weaknesses of the human body that could compromise the delivery of said weapons to their targets. The crews of the bombers were very much secondary considerations, in monetary and strategic terms far less valuable than their cargo. The most striking example of this is a piece of equipment issued to RAF bomber crews, to be worn in the event of a real bombing run into Soviet territory. Although the crew was in no danger of being adversely affected by the bomb they were carrying, as they would turn away on releasing it and be far enough away when it detonated to avoid the flash and blast, their route over Europe at the outbreak of war would become a morass of smaller explosions. Landmines, artillery pieces, rockets and tactical bombs would all be emitting blinding nuclear flashes, which could disable bomber crews and render them useless. To combat this eventuality, pilots were issued with an eye patch, so that in the event of being exposed to a nuclear flash they could remove the patch from their unharmed eye and continue to their target. Of course, once the weapon had achieved its objective of flattening a Russian city, in a strategic sense the crew became worthless. Whilst a conventional bomber would return to base to be used for another mission, it was widely accepted that the bases the RAF’s Vulcan, Victor and Valiant bombers had departed from would have become radioactive craters. Indeed, due to the UK’s small size, high population and density of high value military targets, it would be amongst the first NATO countries to be hit, and would definitely be hit the hardest. It’s debatable whether these men would have had anything of a country to come back to. They knew that if they ever had to do the job they were trained for, their families would almost certainly be dead, and the crews back on the airbase would be incinerated minutes after they had seen the bombers off.
Indeed, with the advent of the ICBM, warning times were cut to minutes, and the incredibly valuable weapons and bombers suddenly became incredibly vulnerable. Ever more drastic measures were devised to cut launch times, and at the 1960 Farnborough airshow RAF bombers demonstrated the ability to board all crew, start the engines and get in the air from a standing start within 1 minute and fifty seconds. Our American cousins, in their time honoured tradition, took a rather more brash approach to the problem, namely strapping a shitload of rockets on to their bombers so they could make much shorter take off runs (see picture. I guess if you’re going to go and flatten a city, subtlety doesn’t matter that much).
These innovations helped to give rise to the merging in popular culture of the tropes of nuclear apocalypse and the usurpation of humanity by its mechanical creations. Part of the reason that the iconography of the Terminator series resonates so deeply (forgive the fanboy proselytizing) is that it reflected trends in the real world. The real kicker though, is that we don’t need an omnipotent machine à la Terminator's Skynet to turn nuclear weapons against us, because by definition a nuclear war would be a war removed from human agency, needs and objectives, a war for wars sake. You can’t put the lid back on Pandora’s box.