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    US Archive 4

    Yucca - |Hardtack I|
    Date: 02:40 UTC 28/04/1958
    Type: Airburst @26210m
    Yield: 1.7 Kt

    Yucca was a joint DOD/LASL test of the W-25 air defense warhead in a high altitude balloon-lofted shot for ABM development work. The device including the baloon and payload weighed 345 kilos.

    Cactus - |Hardtack I|
    Date: 18:15 UTC 05/04/1958
    Type: Surface
    Yield: 18 Kt

    LASL test of a MK-43 primary in a thermonuclear system mockup. Similar to to the Elder device. Predicted yield 13-14 kt. The Cactus device primary weighed 50 kg. The over all device weighed 650kg. and had a width of 45cm and a length of 175cm. The device was detonated 180 meters southwest of the Redwing Lacrosse crater. The Cactus crater had a diameter of 105 meters, and a maximum depth of 11 meters. The crater was used in 1979 as a burial pit to intern 85,000 cubic meters of radioactive soil and debris scraped from the various contaminated Enewetak Atoll islands. The 105 meter wide pit was capped with thick concrete forming a structure known as the Runit Dome.

    Koa - |Hardtack I|
    Date: 18:30 UTC 12/05/1958
    Type: Surface
    Yield: 1.37Mt

    Koa was a test of the XW-35 which was designed from the outset as a thermonuclear warhead for the first generation of ICBMs. When accuracy of the Atlas ICBM was shown to be inferior to predictions, the XW-35 design was altered to give a higher yield. The predicted yield was 1.75 megatons; the actual yield was 1.37 megatons with the shortfall due to poor burning of the secondary. The fission yield was 750 kt. The W-35 was later dropped in favor of the W-49, a modification of the tried and trusted TX-28 from Operation Redwing. Shot Koa completely obliterated the Island Dridrilbwij aka Teiter.

    Wahoo - |Hardtack I|
    Date: 01:30 UTC 16/05/1958
    Type: Underwater @-152m
    Yield: 9 Kt

    Wahoo was a deep water effects test using the Mk-7 bomb in 975m of seawater. The purpose of this test (and Umbrella) was to improve the understanding of the effects of underwater explosions on Navy ships and material. These were continuations of earlier underwater tests that included Baker during operation Crossroads at Bikini in 1946 and Wigwam off the U.S. West Coast in 1955.

    Nutmeg - |Hardtack I|
    Date: 21:20 UTC 21/05/1958
    Type: Barge
    Yield: 25kt

    The second Bikini shot of Hardtack I, Nutmeg was detonated on a barge In the Zuni crater. Built by UCRL, it was a 2 stage thermonuclear device, possibly an XW-47 prototype. The predicted yield was 8-25 kilotons. Within 6 minutes the cloud had stabilized at 6,100 meters.

    Umbrella - |Hardtack I|
    Date: 18:15 UTC 08/06/1958
    Type: Underwater @-30m
    Yield: 8 Kt

    Umbrella was a DOD sponsored weapons effects test for a medium depth underwater explosion. A Mk-7 bomb was used for the test (76cm diameter, 137cm long, device weight 374kg) in a heavy pressure vessel (total weight 3175kg). Very similar to the Wahoo device. The device was detonated on the lagoon bottom of Mut (Henry) Island. An underwater crater 914m across and 7m deep was produced.

    Alternate view

    Poplar - |Hardtack I|
    Date: 03:30 UTC 12/07/1958
    Type: Barge
    Yield: 9.3Mt

    Poplar was at least in part prompted by Hans Bethe's recommendations to President Eisenhower for a "clean" fusion weapon. Previous 'dirty' weapons had fission proportions of 50-77%, due to the use of U-238 as a 'pusher' around the lithium deuteride secondary stage. The 1956 'clean' tests used a lead or tungsten carbide pusher. Poplar was a test variant of the Mk-41C warhead, similar to Pine and Sycamore, it was the largest test of Hardtack I, and 5th largest U.S. test ever. Of it's 9.3 megatons yield, only 4.8% was fission, and thus was 95.2% "clean". The concept of a clean nuclear weapon is obviously largely political as this still equates to 450 kt of pure fission.

    Teak - |Hardtack I|
    Date: 10:50 UTC 01/08/1958
    Type: Airburst @76800m
    Yield: 3.8 Mt

    Teak was a high yield, high altitude test of the W-39 over Johnston Island during Operation Hardtack I and part of the anti-satellite 'Program 437'. The warhead was delivered to an altitude 77 kilometers by the tried and trusted US Army Redstone Rocket. Later tests during Operation Dominic used Thor missiles or modified Lockheed X-17 missiles. The purpose of the shot was to determine both feasibility of nuclear weapons as an anti-ballistic missile defense, as well as a means to defeat satellites and manned orbiting vehicles in space. Powerful EMP effects were experienced at Apia Observatory in Samoa and damaged land based electronics as far as 1500 km away. Radiation became trapped by the Earth's magnetic field, creating artificial belts of radiation 100 to 1,000 times stronger than background levels.

    Orange - |Hardtack I|
    Date: 10:30 UTC 12/08/1958
    Type: Missile @43000m
    Yield: 3.8 Mt

    Orange was an anti-ballistic missile system (ABM) effects test using a W-39 warhead launched on a Redstone ballistic missile. Of it's 3.8 Mt yield, 1.9 Mt was due to fission.

    Fig - |Hardtack I|
    Date: 04:00 UTC 18/09/1958
    Type: Surface
    Yield: 0.02 Kt

    Probable XW-51 test. The shot was successful unlike the similar Quince shot that preceded it. It was the last atmospheric shot at Enewetak.

    Humboldt - |Hardtack II|
    Date: 14:45 UTC 29/10/1958
    Type: Tower @10m
    Yield: 0.0078 Kt

    Repeat of the earlier Hamilton device which fizzled, but with higher yield. An XW-51 Davy Crockett (Quail device) prototype, it was an extremely small device at only 16 kg.

    Operation Plowshare
    Date: 1961-73
    Type: Subsurfce
    Total Yield: 717 Kt

    Project Plowshare was the overall term for the development of techniques to use nuclear explosives for peaceful construction purposes, A.K.A. Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNE). The phrase was coined in 1961, taken from Micah 4:3 ("And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares"). The Soviet Union had a similar program of testing titled Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy. Proposed uses included widening the Panama Canal, constructing a new sea-level waterway through Nicaragua nicknamed the Pan-Atomic Canal, cutting paths through mountainous areas for highways, and for connecting inland river systems. Other proposals involved blasting underground caverns for water, natural gas, and petroleum storage. Serious consideration was also given to using these explosives for various mining operations. In the end, Nuclear explosives have never been used for commercial engineering purposes in the United States, but the concept has been tested.

    Gnome - |Nougat|
    Date: 12:10 UTC 10/12/1961
    Type: Subsurface @-360m
    Total Yield: 3.1 Kt

    Shot Gnome was fired in an underground salt dome formation. A permanent stable cavity 52 meters in diameter, and 24 meters high, was formed. This one of the very few nuclear test cavities (perhaps the only one) to avoid collapse. Some radiation accidentally released as a result of subsequent drilling.

    Aztec - |Dominic I|
    Date: 16:01 UTC 27/04/1962
    Type: Airdrop @796m
    Yield: 410 Kt

    This was a successful LASL test of the the XW-50X1-Y3 in a Mk-39 Mod-1 Type 3 drop case. It was the highest yield variant of the W-50 warhead (used on the Nike Zeus and Pershing missiles), giving a yield-to-weight ratio of 2.21 kt/kg. This device used a spherical secondary stage. The device was similar to those tested in Adobe, Kingfish, and Bluegill Triple Prime. The yield was slightly lower than expected. The mushroom cloud rose to about 18,300 meters.

    Arkansas - |Dominic I|
    Date: 18:00 UTC 27/04/1962
    Type: Airburst @1533m
    Yield: 1090 Kt

    The U.S.S.R had broken the 34 month testing ban on 1st September 1961 by undertaking a large series of atmospheric nuclear tests, the U.S. responded with its own series of tests. Arkansas was the first parachute-retarded device to be dropped at Christmas Island, it missed its intended air zero point by 183m, the mushroom cloud rose to about 18,288m. Proof-test of the LRL X-56 warhead, later deployed on the Minuteman missile. This warhead was similar to the W-47 deployed on the Polaris missile. The W-56 had the same yield as the high-yield variant of the W-47 (1.2 megatons), but weighed 60kg less.

    Questa - |Dominic I|
    Date: 18:01 UTC 02/05/1962
    Type: Airburst @1594m
    Yield: 670 Kt

    Questa was a LASL test of the XW-59 warhead in a Mk-39 Mod-1 Type 3 drop case. The W-59 was a development of the J-21 warhead design and was a competitor with the LRL W-56 to arm the Minuteman I missile. It was also intended for the Skybolt air-launched ballistic missile. The device was similar to those tested in Alma, Rinconada, and Sunset. The yield (expected to be 1 Mt) was considerably lower than expected (the full yield was later achieved in Sunset). The yield-to-weight ratio of 2.68 kt/kg was still quite respectable. The mushroom cloud rose to 18,900 meters. with a base height of 10,700 meters. In the end both the W-56 and W-59 were produced for the Minuteman I.

    Frigate Bird - |Dominic I|
    Date: 23:30 06/05/1962
    Type: High Altitude @3352m
    Yield: 600Kt

    Frigate Bird was the only US test of an operational ballistic missile with a live warhead. This test involved firing a Polaris A1 missile from a ballistic missile submarine. The missile was launched by the USS Ethan Allen (SSBN-608) at 13:18 (local) from a position 1500 nm east-northeast of Christmas Island. The re-entry vehicle (RV) and warhead flew 1020 nm downrange toward Christmas Island before re-entering the atmosphere 12.5 minutes later, and detonating in an airburst at 3352 meters. The system tested was a combination of a Polaris A1 SLBM, and a W-47Y1 warhead in a Mk-1 RV. The Mk-1 RV had a beryllium heat-sink heat shield, and with the 325kg warhead had a gross weight of 408kg. The missile/RV demonstrated an accuracy on the order of 2011 meters.

    Yukon - |Dominic I|
    Date: 18:01 UTC 08/05/1962
    Type: Airdrop @878m
    Yield: 100kt

    Yukon was a parachute retarded test of the Calliope II device. An experimental shot, the first of a planned family of light weight, high-fusion/low-fission devices which were intended to increase the yield-to-weight ratio of ICBM warheads. The device was similar to those tested in Muskegon, Chetco, Nougat, Arikaree, Hudson, Codsaw, and Hoosic. The yield was slightly higher than expected, the mushroom cloud rose to 17,373m.

    Swordfish - |Dominic I|
    Date: 20:02 UTC 11/05/1962
    Type: Subsurface @-198m
    Yield: unknown

    A test of the ASROC anti-submarine rocket weapon system. The ASROC used the W-44 warhead, which had a nominal yield of 10 kt. It was a weapons effects test to evaluate effects on ships, submarines, and sonar systems . A target array of four destroyers and a surfaced submarine were positioned at distances between 2011 and 4206 meters from surface zero. The ASROC was fired from the destroyer USS Agerholm (DD-826) at a target raft 3975m away. The rocket missed its sub-surface zero point by 18m and exploded at a depth of -198 feet in water that was 5224m deep. The spray dome from the detonation was 914m wide, and rose to 640m in 16 seconds. The detonation left a huge circle of foam-covered radioactive water.

    Alternate view

    Bluestone - |Dominic I|
    Date: 15:21 UTC 30/06/1962
    Type: Airdrop @1518m
    Yield: 1.27Mt

    Bluestone was a parachute-retarded test of the XW-56X2 Prime device in a Mk-36 drop case. The device was dropped by a new crew on its first drop mission. The device was similar to that tested in Swanee and Arkansas. This test achieved the full design yield for the W-56 warhead. The mushroom cloud rose to 17,678m.

    Alternate view

    Sunset - |Dominic I|
    Date: 16:33 UTC 10/07/1962
    Type: Airdrop @1500m
    Yield: 1Mt

    Sunset was a high yield test of the XW-59 warhead in a Mk-15 drop case. This test successfully reached the full design yield of the W-59. This device was similar to those tested in Questa, Alma, and Rinconada. The mushroom cloud rose to 18,288m.

    Alternate view

    Pamlico - |Dominic I|
    Date: 15:37 UTC 11/07/1962
    Type: Airdrop @43700m
    Yield: 3.88Mt

    A parachute-retarded device in a MK-36 drop case. This was a test of advanced principles for achieving high-efficiency thermonuclear burn, and successfully confirmed theoretical predictions. This was the last Christmas Island airdrop, and the third largest test of Operation Dominic.

    Bluegill Prime - |Fishbowl|
    Date: 25/07/1962
    Type: Missile
    Yield: n/a

    Conducted as part of Operation Dominic was a series of high altitude tests known as Operation Fishbowl. These tests were Thor missile launched warheads detonated at very high altitudes to evaluate the effects of high yield explosions against ballistic missile re-entry vehicles. Several test failures occurred with missiles being destroyed in flight when electronics failed, rocket motors malfunctioned, or when the missile lost control. The Bluegill Prime test was particularly disastrous since the missile was blown up while still on the launch pad, requiring complete reconstruction of the demolished and heavily contaminated Thor launch facility.

    Checkmate - |Fishbowl|
    Date: 07:30 UTC 20/09/1962
    Type: High Altitude @147Km
    Yield: Unknown

    This was the second successful Operation Fishbowl shot. This was a test of the LASL XW-50X1 warhead launched by a solid fueled XM-33 Strypi rocket using an Army Recruit rocket booster stage. The warhead detonated at an altitude of 146Km, 65Km downrange from Johnston Island, and only 3 kilometers from the airzero point. Since the shot occurred above the atmosphere, a luminous fireball was not formed. Instead observers on the island at the moment of detonation saw a green and blue circular region surrounded by a blood red ring. This faded in less than a minute, and blue-green streamers and pink striations developed that lasted half an hour.

    Bluegill TP -|Fishbowl|
    Date: 09:59 UTC 26/10/1962
    Type: Missile @48.2Km
    Yield: 400 Kt

    The Bluegill experiment used a W-50 warhead in a Mk-4 reentry vehicle (RV), launched by a Thor missile. The device was similar to those fired in Adobe, Aztec, and Kingfish. Bluegill Triple prime was preceded by 3 failed attempts. This fourth and finally successful launch resulted in a detonation at an altitude of 48.2 km, approximately 30km south-southwest of Johnston Island. This burst occurred low enough in the atmosphere for fireball formation to occur. Observers saw a brilliant white flash and noticeable heat pulse on bare skin. A slightly distorted bright moon-like sphere was seen, yellow at first, then gradually showing green, pink, and violet hues. Blue-purple streamers were formed. A bright glow persisted for 30 minutes, at times bright enough to read a watch face in the dark. The fireball was also seen in Hawaii.

    Housatonic - |Dominic I|
    Date: 16:02 UTC 30/10/1962
    Type: Airdrop @3700Km
    Yield: 8.3MT

    Housatonic airdrop was the final nuclear weapon airdrop by the U.S. The device tested was a Ripple II in a Mk-36 drop case, and it was delivered with near-perfect accuracy (bombing error less than 30m). This was a repeat of the failed Androscoggin (which fizzled) and was spectacularly successful, resulting in the highest yield of the Dominic test series. The yield-to-weight ratio was 2.56 kt/kg.

    Kingfish - |Fishbowl|
    Date: 11:10 UTC 01/11/1962
    Type: Missile @96300m
    Yield: 400 KT

    Kingfish was similar to Bluegill Triple Prime, a W-50 in Mk-4 RV launched by a Thor missile. Johnston Island observers saw a yellow-white, luminous circle with intense purple streamers for the first minute. A large pale-green patch appeared somewhat south of the burst and grew, becoming the dominant visible feature after 5 minutes. By H+1 the green had become dull gray, but the feature persisted for 3 hours. At Oahu a bright flash was observed and after about 10 seconds a great white ball appeared to rise slowly out of the sea and was visible for about 9 minutes.

    Tightrope - |Fishbowl|
    Date: 06:30 UTC 04/11/1962
    Type: High Altitude @21Km
    Yield: Unknown

    This was a DOD sponsored live test of the Nike Hercules air defense missile system. A Nike Hercules missile, carrying the LASL designed W-31 air defense warhead, was launched and detonated over Johnston Island. The W-31 came in four yield variants ranging from 1 to 40 kt, it is not known which was fired in this test. On Johnston Island an intense white flash, to bright to view even through high density goggles, was accompanied by a strong heat pulse. A yellow-orange disc formed, slowly changing to a purple toroid which faded from view after several minutes. This shot is usually regarded as the last U.S. atmospheric test.

    Dominic I Medley
    Date: 1962
    Type: n/a
    Yield: n/a

    Dominic included 36 tests. The majority of the tests (29 airdrops) were weapons development tests, intended to evaluate advanced designs that the labs had been developing during the years of the moratorium and before. This clip contains footage of various colour corrected Dominic I shots.

    Sedan - |Storax|
    Date: 17:00 UTC 06/07/1962
    Type: Subsurface @-190m
    Yield: 104Kt

    The test was conducted under the auspices of the Plowshare program, which was an attempt to develop non-military uses for nuclear explosives. The purpose of Sedan was to investigate the potential of "clean" thermonuclear devices for producing large craters cheaply (for canal or harbor construction for example). Sedan was detonated at what was estimated to be the optimal crater depth in alluvial soil. 12 million tons of soil and rock were lifted into the air, 8 million tons of it falling outside the crater. The final crater was 390m wide and 97m deep. The force of the detonation released seismic energy equivalent to an earthquake magnitude of 4.75 on the Richter Scale. The program was abandoned due to unworkable residual radiation levels.

    Little Feller 1 - |Sunbeam|
    Date: 17:00 UTC 17/07/1962
    Type: Artillery @12m
    Yield: 0.018Kt

    The M-388 Davy Crockett was a 155mm tactical nuclear recoilless rifle with a range of 4Km. One of the smallest nuclear weapons ever fielded, developed in late 1950 for use against Soviet troops in West Germany. The M-388 round used a W-54 warhead, a very small sub-kiloton fission device weighing about 23 kg, with a selectable yield of 10 or 20 tons. The shell's greatest effect would have been its extreme radiation hazard. Even at a low yield setting, the M388 would produce an almost instantly lethal radiation dosage (<10,000 rem) within 150m, and a probably fatal dose (600 rem) within 400m. This was the last atmospheric test at the NTS, and was observed by Robert F. Kennedy.

    Salmon - |Whetstone|
    Date: 11:00 22/10/1964
    Type: subsurface @-830m
    Yield: 5.3 Kt

    Salmon the 15th shot of Operation Whetstone, a series of 48 nuclear tests conducted in 1964 and 1965. These followed the Niblick series and was in turn followed by Flintlock. All but one of these blasts were conducted beneath the Nevada Test Site.

    Faultless - |Crosstie|
    Date: 18:15 19/01/1968
    Type: subsurface @-366m
    Yield: 1Mt

    This shot at Tonopah Nevada, was intended to test environmental and structural effects to determine the feasibility of larger tests in the area. The test was aptly named as it resulted in a large amount of "faulting" and enlarging of existing natural fissures.

    Milrow - |Mandrel|
    Date: 11:00 02/10/1969
    Type: subsurface @-1.22Km
    Yield: 1 Mt

    The purpose of the Milrow shot was to test Amchitka island, not a weapon. It was a "calibration shot", intended to produce data from which the impact of larger explosions could be predicted, and specifically, to determine whether the planned Cannikin shot could be performed safely. The shockwave reached the surface with an acceleration of over 35g, causing a dome of the earth's surface, approximately 3 km in radius, to rise about 5m. The blast "turned the surrounding sea to froth" and "forced geysers of mud and water from local streams and lakes 15 m into the air. A subsidence crater was formed by material collapsing into the cavity formed by the explosion.

    Date: 11:00 06/11/1971
    Type: subsurface @-1.8Km
    Yield: 5Mt

    Project Cannikin was a nuclear test conducted on Amchitka Island, Alaska, at 11:00 a.m., Bering Standard Time, on November 6, 1971. It was the largest underground nuclear test conducted in the United States, registering 7.0 on the Richter-scale and causing the ground to jump up by 5 meters. Cannikin was intended to test the design of the Spartan anti-ballistic missile (ABM) interceptor a high-yield warhead that "produced copious amounts of x-rays and minimized fission output and debris to prevent blackout of ABM radar systems. The test would "measure the yield of the device, measure the x-ray flux and spectrum, and assure deployment of a reliable design. The test caused huge amounts of damage to the coastline and was largely instrumental in the formation of Greenpeace.

    Published on: 2010-10-04 (31190 reads)

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