Saturday, 16 March 2019

Nuclear Testing Archive: Atomic Blasts, Operations Greenhouse through Upshot-Knothole - 800042 (1951 - 1953)

"0800042 - Atomic Blasts- Operations Greenhouse Through Upshot-Knothole - 1951-1953 - 29:22 - Color - Silent - This video shows a compilation of early atomic blasts taken from individual short films of the tests. These formerly classified films have never before been seen by the public. The video shows close up footage of boiling, tumbling, rolling fireballs of great destructive force as the nuclear power from the splitting of nuclei of atoms is unleashed. The blinding fury released by these early atomic devices demonstrates the show of power that was used by the United States to end World War II and establish a power base for the Cold War to follow.

The term "atomic" designated them as fission devices, as opposed to the later much more powerful thermonuclear devices, which used a fission test to start a fusion process. Eventually, the word "atomic" was replaced by the term "nuclear."

By the time Operation Greenhouse was conducted, the Atomic Energy Commission began testing devices of higher yields than those detonated in the TRINITY test or in Operations Crossroads, Sandstone or Ranger. Laboratory scientists were using the data gained from the early operations to build more sophisticated devices that delivered more power.

The three "atomic" tests in four-test Greenhouse Operation (DOG, EASY, and ITEM) had respective yields of 81, 47 and 45.5 kilotons (kt) compared with the 21 kt yield of the earlier devices of the Fat Man (i.e., TRINITY) design. These tests, fired from 300-foot towers on Enewetak Atoll in the Pacific Ocean between April 7 and May 24, 1951, provided weapons design/development data.

In Operation Buster/Jangle, the five tests conducted under Operation Buster series, ABLE, BAKER, CHARLIE, DOG, and EASY, evaluated new devices developed by the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and provided data on the basic phenomena associated with these devices.

The two Jangle Operation tests, SUGAR and UNCLE, provided the first experimental data on the military effects of surface and underground nuclear detonations, including the response of structures to nuclear bursts, the effects of gamma radiation versus time and distance, and the level of residual contamination from surface and underground bursts. The Buster/Jangle Operation was conducted at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) between October 22 and November 29, 1951.

The eight-test Operation Tumbler-Snapper was conducted at the NTS between April 1 and June 5, 1952, The first two, ABLE and BAKER, were 1-kt air drop weapons effects tests, while the second pair of air drop devices, CHARLIE and DOG, had yields of 31 and 19 kt, respectively, and were weapons-related tests. The last four, EASY, FOX, GEORGE, and HOW had yields of 12, 11, 15 and 14 kt, respectively, and were weapons-related tests. The U.S. military conducted exercises in conjunction with the CHARLIE, DOG, and FOX tests.

Only one "atomic" test, KING, was fired in Operation Ivy. At 500 kt, it was the largest fission device ever tested. Regrettably, this series of short films did not have a fireball view of the KING detonation, but only footage showing its blast effects. KING was a weapons-related airdrop test of an advanced warhead design made possible by earlier tests and research efforts. The other test in Operation Ivy was MIKE, the first full-fledged thermonuclear device.

There were 11 tests fired in Operation Upshot-Knothole, three airdrops, seven tower tests and one fired from an atomic cannon. About 21,000 military personnel participated in Upshot-Knothole as part of the Desert Rock V Exercise. The tests, all weapons related, were conducted between March 17 and June 4, 1953. The Upshot-/Knothole tests and their yields were as follows: ANNIE, 16 kt; NANCY, 24 kt; RUTH, 200 tons; DIXIE, 11 kt; RAY, 200 tons; BADGER, 23 kt; SIMON, 43 kt; ENCORE, 27 kt; HARRY, 32 kt; GRABLE, fired from 280mm gun (cannon), 15 kt; and CLIMAX, 61 kt."

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