In my world, the United States, Soviet Union, European Union, and Populated sections of Asia are all involved in a nuclear war. Their are about 32,000 warheads fired, an in total, 3,000 megatons of nukes are used during the war. My question is: How long would a nuclear war likely last?
- Say it starts with one side trying for a massive counterforce strike. The other side detects that and launches on warning. Call it one hour for the ICBM part of the exchange.
- Bombers which got into the air before their bases were obliterated or which were on airborne alert proceed to their assigned targets. Less than a day for that part of the exchange.
- Tactical weapons which got out of their depots before those were obliterated will be launched over days or weeks, but those are relatively low yields.
- The nuclear ballistic missile submarines can fire some impressive salvos. Many might be integrated with the plan for the first day, others might fire much later as their commanders execute pre-written orders.