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    Operation Buster-Jangle - 1951

    / Main Archive / USA /

    Easy 05/11/1951
    Buster-Jangle was the second nuclear testing series conducted at the Nevada Test Site. It was a joint Department of Defense/ Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory (LASL) operation, the first such operation ever conducted. Up until Buster-Jangle, every operation was conducted by a single entity; Crossroads was a DOD operation while Sandstone, Ranger, and Greenhouse were LASL operations. The Buster phase was primarily a weapons development effort conducted by LASL, however, the DOD conducted the Desert Rock I military operation around the Dog shot.

    The weapons development operations during the Buster phase consisted of testing different types of pit configurations fired in the Mk-4 explosive assembly. In addition to this, the Mk-7 light weight bomb was proof tested. The Jangle phase was conducted to study cratering caused by the explosion of surface and sub-surface atomic devices.

    Thermal pulse effect tests were conducted on dogs during shots Baker and Dog to determine the protection given by military fabrics. Two anesthetized dogs clothed in canvas jackets, were placed 1,220 meters from the Baker ground zero. Six more dogs placed 2,130 and 2,740 meters from the Dog ground zero. Sixty anesthetized rats were placed along a radial line 640 to 3,660 meters from ground zero to gather addition data on burn damage to skin.

    - Video of animal testing

    Flash blindness tests were conducted during Shots Baker, Charlie and Dog by the Air Force School of Aviation Medicine. The objective was to evaluate the visual handicap that might be expected if military personnel were exposed to the flash of a nuclear detonations. Approximately seventeen volunteers orbited in a C-54 aircraft about 15 kilometers from ground zero, at an altitude of 4,500 meters, and observed the shot wearing various levels of eye protection.

    - Video of flash blindness testing

    The first shot of the series, Able, was significant in that it was a fizzle, the first actual failure of any U.S. nuclear device. This was the second attempt to fire the weapon, the previous test on the 19th of October failed to function entirely. Able was a test of a Petite Plutonium fission bomb, designed by Ted Taylor, using close to the minimum amount of fissile material for an appreciable yield. The device achieved supercriticality and produced detectable nuclear output, however the yield was negligible in relation to the large amount of high explosive used. The tower was left damaged but largely intact.

    Buster-Jangle was the first nuclear testing series in which the military conducted operations around an atomic explosion. The purpose of Desert Rock was to train troops and gain knowledge of military maneuvres and operations in a nuclear combat environment. Approximately 6,500 troops participated in the three Desert Rock operations surround shots Dog, Sugar, and Uncle. Servicemen from all four branches of the military participated.

    Dog 01/11/1951
    The Desert Rock exercises included observer programs, tactical maneuvers, and damage effects tests. Observer programs typically involved pre-shot lectures and tours of military equipment that was destined to be exposed to the force of the atomic shot. Approximately 2,000 troops participated in the exercises to provide radiological safety, security, transportation, communications, construction, and logistical support.

    Both the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the DOD conducted scientific experiments around the shots. These experiments included placing gauges, detectors, and other instruments around the intended zero point of the explosion a week prior to shot day. Only after the Test Director had determined that the area was radiological safe to re-enter after the shot could the instruments and data be retrieved. Some of the materials exposed to the atomic explosions were plastics, paints, and coated fabrics. Open and closed fox holes were dug a distances ranging from 30 to 600 meters from ground zero and instrumented with film packs to measure gamma and neutron dosage.

    Fresh tree limbs and dry logs were exposed to see the effects of a nuclear explosion on forest debris. Patches of leaves and twigs were also exposed to measure how thermal radiation and the blast wave can fuel forest fires.

    The AEC established radiological safety procedures for the personnel involved in the operation while allowing them to accomplish their missions. A maximum dosage of 1 roentgen of whole body gamma exposure was allowed for the participants of Desert Rock I. For participants in the Desert Rock II and III exercises, the maximum exposure allowed was 3 roentgens. The crews of the cloud sampling aircraft were allowed doses of 3.9 roentgens. The Test Manager was not only responsible for the safety of those in the Nevada Test Site during shot operations, but also for individuals within a 200 mile radius of the test site.

    Initial decontamination procedures consisted of brushing clothing, vehicles, and equipment to remove debris and dust particles. If brushing failed to reduce radiation intensities, individuals showered and were issued clean clothes. Vehicles were either washed or isolated until radiation was reduced to acceptable levels. No Desert Rock I personnel or vehicles were found to be contaminated above the 0.02R/hr level.

    Buster-Jangle released about 10,500 kilocuries of radioiodine into the atmosphere. Total civilian radiation exposure from the seven shots amounted to 7.4 million person-rads of thyroid tissue exposure. This was expected to cause about 2,300 cases of thyroid cancer, leading to some 120 deaths.

    Test Shots

    Video Name Yield Date |UTC| Type Warhead Location LAT/LONG
    - Able 0.05 Kt 14:00 22/10/1951 Tower @30m - NTS Area 7 37.08390 -116.02390
    Baker 3.5 Kt 15:20 28/10/1951 Airdrop @340m Mk-4 NTS Area 7 37.08500 -116.02000
    Charlie 14 Kt 15:00 30/10/1951 Airdrop @350m Mk-4 NTS Area 7 37.08500 -116.02030
    Dog 21 Kt 15:30 01/11/1951 Airdrop @340m Mk-4 NTS Area 7 37.08470 -116.01970
    Easy 31 Kt 16:29 05/11/1951 Airdrop @400m TX-7E NTS Area 7 37.09190 -116.02440
    Sugar 1.2 Kt 16:59 19/11/1951 Subs-surface @1m Mk-6 NTS Area 9 37.13170 -116.03860
    Uncle 1.2 Kt 19:59 29/11/1951 Sub-Surface @-10m - NTS Area 10 37.16970 -116.04250

    - Click on a thumbnail for a larger version

    Published on: 2010-09-16 (3963 reads)

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