Are the presence of neutron reflectors the only difference between a hydrogen bomb and a neutron bomb?

Many sources go into the bombs' different effects but I couldn't find the differences in how they're built and what causes those effects.


Fusion bombs are typically boosted by encasing them in a fissionable (uranium) housing. The gigantic neutron flux produced by the fusion reactions then fissions the housing and boosts the yield considerably.

Since the housing also acts to hold in the neutrons which help produce fusible fuel, the housing also enhances the yield of the fusion reactions as well, creating more energy release and more blast damage.

But the purpose of the neutron bomb is not to produce blast damage; it is to incapacitate tank and armored vehicle crews streaming into western Europe from the Evil Empire (tm) as they sit inside their armor, which is mostly transparent to neutrons.

So the fissionable casing is omitted, which reduces the explosive yield of the bomb somewhat but greatly increases the neutron flux. This would allow the neutron bomb to be used near population centers in western Europe to kill Soviet tank crews without destroying the population centers with blast effects.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer! So the only design difference is the uranium housing, is that correct? Is the housing the same thing as the tampers? $\endgroup$
    – David Hobs
    Jun 16 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that's more or less it. Wikipedia has a pretty good description of this. $\endgroup$ Jun 16 at 15:48

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