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Nuclear Weapon History


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Castle Bravo...one of the more infamous nuclear tests. 

A mistake regarding the isotopes of lithium resulted in a MUCH larger yield than the expected 5-6 megatons. Turned out lithium 7 was fissionable...or is that fissile? Who knew?? (running for your bunker)

Either way...BOOM!



Edited by DogOnPorch
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8 hours ago, DogOnPorch said:

Canada played some roles in US bomb development over the years...like this program studying blast effects.


If you look at todays military maps of CFB Suffield the blast radius are clearly marked on each map, even today rings out to 50 km from blast site. Suffield is also the home of Canada's NBCW center, since the 50's they have been researching  chemical agents, and their effects, many vets are on specials pension from these effects after being used as live test subjects, not to mention the thousands of farm animals that were used as test cases for nerve, blister, blood, and other agents, it is here where they developed our gas mask still in service today, and items like atropine injectors, chemical detector paper, etc.... they use to give tours of the research facility there, not sure if it's even there now. they have sort of a museum that has declassified movies about the test you mentioned above and them using nerve agent on sheep etc . if your interested in that sort of thing

Today there are tracks of the training area that are strictly off limits due to the agents that were used or dispersed there...they are fenced and marked off with chemical agent signs... 

Suffield is the second largest training area in Canada 

Edited by Army Guy
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Deoldified footage of Crossroads Baker. Crossroads Able was the airdrop test of a similar sized weapon. It missed its aim point by about 2,000 feet, however...doing little damage to the ships. Baker, on the other-hand, sank several...


Rather impressive...despite the small yield of a mere 22 kilotons. The flash that normally accompanies nuclear explosions was missing...taking place underwater (about 90 feet deep). A ragtag fleet of decommissioned and captured ship were present in Bikini lagoon as targets.

From Trinity and Beyond...


The full story...


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  • 3 weeks later...

RDS-37...the Soviet Union's first two-stage hydrogen bomb. It used a weird core of U-233 & 235 with lithium deuteride for the fusion material. Inert material could be mixed-in with the lithium deuteride to adjust the maximum yield.


This was a big sucker for the time...3-4 megaton yield if ungoverned. The test was scaled down to 1.6 megatons...still a huge bang. A temperature inversion at the time had the unexpected effect of reflecting far more of the shockwave downward...causing much destruction around the test area...including deaths.




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Mach Stem...the naughty bit about nuclear weapons. This is why airbursts at a certain altitude depending on yield are desirable. The shockwave reflects back on itself and forms what is called a Mach Stem at the leading edge of the wave...a zone of high intensity pressure. 







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Joe-4 (RDS-6s) from 1953.


This was the famous layer-cake design...sloika. It used alternate layers of fissionable U-238 and deuterium with a U-235 core. It proved to be a dead-end, though as this method topped out in the 4-500 kiloton yield range...too small for a proper city buster.

It still made an impressive test blast, though...


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Test Ivy King: November 16, 1952

The Mark 18 Super Oralloy Bomb.




Ivy King re: the Mark 18 were the back-up devices to the Ivy Mike project...the first H-Bomb.

Ivy King was 500 kilotons of pure fission...about four critical masses worth of super enriched uranium in the form of a thin-walled sphere/pit. In normal operation, this sphere would be crushed by a 92 point shaped explosion sending it all into the supercritical. 


It was soooo dangerous that neutron absorbing boron chains had to be stored inside the pit to prevent the possibility of a spontaneous detonation in the Hiroshima range...15-20kt. These would be removed mere moments before drop. If just one of the 92 charges went off by accident...or if the pit was crushed too far in say...an aircraft crash...it could go off with a undetermined yield. Not 500 kt....but way more than 15 kt.

Ninety made, apparently...in service from 1953-56. The H-Bomb...way safer for the owner/operator...was a reality so these became quickly obsolete. The B-36H was the aircraft used in the King test and proved by demonstration that this 500 kiloton demon was deliverable...RIGHT NOW!

Ivy Mike...the first H-Bomb weighed in at a startling 82 tons and was stored in a house sized shot-cab. No aircraft would be lifting it for a while...


Edited by DogOnPorch
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Uranium...what the Hell is it?


While U-235 is fissile, most other isotopes of Uranium are fissionable. Once you've got that down, you're well on your way to understanding the basics...


Fissile...capable of sustaining a nuclear reaction/fission by itself.

Fissionable...capable of fission if it captures a neutron.






Great interactive Periodic Table


...and a great Table of Nuclides


Edited by DogOnPorch
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Shot Buster-Jangle Sugar. (Oct 1951)

Sugar was the only dirty ground burst ever conducted in the US. It was a pure evaluation test of blast effects & radiation on near-by targets. All others were tower, balloon, airbursts or buried.


It was a somewhat dampened Mk 6 type device....small yield...more radiation. 

Full Operation film...


Edited by DogOnPorch
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Buster Jangle shot Easy


This was the first air-drop by a jet aircraft of what was considered a tactical nuclear weapon. Mind-you, this thing was twice the size of Little Boy yield-wise at 31 kilotons. Better be a big tactic...

My understanding is that it was lobbed rather than dropped onto the target. The maneuver was called the 'Goofy Loopy' and was pretty much an Immelmann Turn with a bomb release point. This allowed the aircrew the maximum amount of time to get their rears going the other way...as quickly as possible.

The tactic was employed by B-47 crews as the best method of getting the job done. Many folks were surprised to find that such a large aircraft could do fighter-like maneuvers...where there's a will....




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Plumbbob Smoky (Aug 31st, 1957)

44 kiloton yield


Tallest tower shot...you can just see the tower getting vaporized. 

This was the test for the primary (the fission blast to start the fusion) for the B41 Hydrogen Bomb...the most powerful bomb deployed by the USA. This sucker had a maximum yield of 25 megatons...that's mega...not kilo. Castle Bravo...bloody huge...was 15 megatons. Of course the Soviets had the Tsar Bomb which they tested at 50 megatons...but it pretty much fried the Tu-95 that carried it. The B41 was the only three stage fusion device deployed by the U.S....meaning it used a combination of well placed reflected X-rays and different fusion capable isotopes to make a much bigger boom. Almost everything on the bomb was pretty much fissionable, otherwise. The 'clean' version used a lead tamper rather than U-238.

A true 'city buster'. Ideally, such a device would be detonated about a mile above ground zero for maximum effect with the least fallout.

The B41 was never tested physically...probably for the best. H-Bomb tests were pretty much removing large chunks of Bikini and Eniwetok atolls (et al) from the maps and giving us all Strontium 90 (and other nasty radioactive isotopes) doses...they were running out of useful islands anyways.






Edited by DogOnPorch
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