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Tsar bomba

Detonated by the Soviet Union on October 30, , Tsar Bomba is the largest nuclear device ever detonated and the most powerful man-made explosion in history. With a yield of 50 megatons of TNT, Tsar Bomba was the culmination of a number of hydrogen bomb tests conducted throughout this time by both the Soviet Union and the United States. A team of physicists led by Yuli Khariton designed Tsar Bomba. The Tsar Bomba was a three-stage hydrogen bomb with a Trutnev-Babaev second and third stage design. A three-stage hydrogen bomb uses a fission-type atomic bomb as the first stage to compress the thermonuclear second stage. The energy produced from this explosion is then directed to compress the much larger thermonuclear third stage. There is evidence that Tsar Bomba utilized several third stages. Additionally, the delivery plane would not have had sufficient time to retreat to a safe distance. Therefore, to minimize nuclear fallout, the third stage incorporated a lead tamper instead of a uranium fusion tamper. It has been speculated that the second stage used this method as well.
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On the morning of 30 October , a Soviet Tu bomber took off from Olenya airfield in the Kola Peninsula in the far north of Russia.
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The US apparently had an instrumented KCR aircraft Operation SpeedLight [7] in the area of the test — close enough to have been scorched by the blast. In addition to being created for political, propagandistic use and as a response to the nuclear deterrence capabilities then possessed by the United States, the Tsar Bomba was created as part of the strategic nuclear forces concept of the USSR, adopted during the rule of Georgy Malenkov and Nikita Khrushchev. The aim was to achieve — without pursuing a quantitative parity with the US in terms of nuclear weapons and means of delivery — sufficient "guaranteed retaliation with an unacceptable level of damage to the enemy" in the event of a nuclear strike on the USSR via qualitatively superior nuclear power. The Tsar Bomba was not designed as a weapon, but as a proof-of-concept that larger warheads were possible and to exert psychological pressure on the United States. The "Malenkov-Khrushchev nuclear doctrine" involved the adoption of geopolitical and military challenges to the United States and the participation of the USSR in the nuclear race but "in a distinctly asymmetrical style". The technical manifestation of this undocumented doctrine was the research-and-development of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery; the former large enough to completely or nearly wipe out large cities and entire urbanized regions in one strike i. The development of such weapons also required mandatory and practical aerial bombardment methods as, for a high-yield thermo- nuclear explosion to reach maximal effect, the payload has to be detonated at an optimal height for the shock wave to reach the greatest force and range. In addition, ultra-large-yield thermonuclear bombs were considered by the Long Range Aviation units of the USSR, as their use fits the "cause the greatest damage to the enemy with a minimal number of carriers i. Before this, an underwater "doomsday weapon" considered by Soviet military and technical experts — essentially a giant torpedo launched by a dedicated nuclear submarine — was planned for development which would detonate its nuclear warhead near the US coast causing a huge tsunami. This project known as the T torpedo was abandoned after more detailed consideration as its combat effectiveness was questionable.
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Characteristics

Last updated 3 September Test: No. Approximate coordinates were This weapon was developed in a remarkably short time. On 10 July Nikita Khrushchev met with Andrei Sakharov, then the senior weapon designer, and directed him to develop a megaton bomb. This device had to be ready for a test series due to begin in September so that the series would create maximum political impact a bomb this size is virtually useless militarily. Sakharov returned to Arzamas, and selected a design team consisting of Victor Adamskii, Yuri Babaev, Yuri Trutnev, and Yuri Smirnov who later oversaw the transformation of this design into a fielded weapon. The bomb was tested only 16 weeks after the initiation of its design. The parachute system developed for Big Ivan was a five-stage system, with a main canopy area of 1, square meters. The parachute shown is a version adapted to space vehicle recovery in the Russian Atomic Museum [Spassky ]. The device offically designated RDS, known to its designers as Big Ivan , and nicknamed in the west Tsar Bomba and referred to as the Big Bomb by Sakharov in his Memoirs [Sakharov ] was the largest nuclear weapon ever constructed or detonated.

Detonated by the Soviet Union on October 30, , Tsar Bomba is the largest nuclear device ever detonated and the most powerful man-made explosion in history. With a yield of 50 megatons of TNT, Tsar Bomba was the culmination of a number of hydrogen bomb tests conducted throughout this time by both the Soviet Union and the United States.

A team of physicists led by Yuli Khariton designed Tsar Bomba. The Tsar Bomba was a three-stage hydrogen bomb with a Trutnev-Babaev second and third stage design. A three-stage hydrogen bomb uses a fission-type atomic bomb as the first stage to compress the thermonuclear second stage.

The energy produced from this explosion is then directed to compress the much larger thermonuclear third stage. There is evidence that Tsar Bomba utilized several third stages. Additionally, the delivery plane would not have had sufficient time to retreat to a safe distance. Therefore, to minimize nuclear fallout, the third stage incorporated a lead tamper instead of a uranium fusion tamper.

It has been speculated that the second stage used this method as well. The uranium fusion tamper greatly amplifies the reaction by fissioning uranium atoms with fast neutrons from the fusion reaction. Thus, despite its huge yield, Tsar Bomba did not actually generate much nuclear fallout. The bomber was accompanied by a Tu observer plane that was responsible for collecting air samples and filming the test. A reflective white paint was used on the planes to minimize thermal damage to their surfaces. Tsar Bomba weighed 27 metric tons or 59, lbs.

The bomb bay doors and fuselage fuel tanks were removed from the TuV due to its large size. Tsar Bomba was attached to a parachute weighing nearly 1, lbs. The bomb was set by barometric sensors to detonate at 13, feet and was dropped from a height of 34, feet. The Tsar Bomba yield was approximately 1, times more powerful than the yield of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined, and 10 times more powerful than all of the conventional weapons exploded during World War II.

By comparison, the B41, the largest United States nuclear weapon, had a theoretical yield of 25 megatons. The largest nuclear device ever detonated by the United States was Castle Bravo with a yield of 15 megatons.

All of the wooden and brick buildings in nearby Severny, located 34 miles from the aiming point or ground zero, were annihilated. In other Soviet districts located over a hundred miles from ground zero, wooden houses were demolished, and brick and stone ones suffered damages. Radio communication outages were also reported. One test witness felt the thermal effects at a distance of miles, even with dark goggles. The intense heat from the detonation was capable of causing third-degree burns at a distance of 62 miles from ground zero.

Windows even shattered as far away as Norway and Finland due to atmospheric focusing of the shock wave. Seismic sensors continued to register shockwaves even after a third revolution around the Earth. The original Atomic Energy Commission estimate of the Tsar Bomba yield was 55—60 megatons, but since the end of the Cold War and fall of the Soviet Union, all Russian sources have confirmed its yield as 50 megatons. The fireball nearly reached the altitude of the release aircraft. At the point of detonation, the aircraft dropped approximately one half mile in altitude due to the shock wave, but would make it to safety.

The cloud reached higher than the stratosphere at its highest altitude. The extreme damage and devastation wrought by thermonuclear weapons like the Tsar Bomba is unimaginable.

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Skip to main content. Tsar Bomba. History Page Type:. Cold War History. Friday, August 8, Aftermath All of the wooden and brick buildings in nearby Severny, located 34 miles from the aiming point or ground zero, were annihilated. Thanks to David Wargowski for his assistance with this article. Related Video:. More Historical Resources:. Hear the stories of the Manhattan Project Browse our collection of oral histories with workers, families, service members, and more about their experiences in the Manhattan Project.



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