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    Operation Nougat - 1961-62

    / Main Archive / USA /




    In it closing days, the Eisenhower administration initiated negotitations on a nuclear test ban with the Soviet Union (this intention was announced by Eisenhower on 22 August 1958). As an important confidence building measure, Eisenhower also announced that a one-year voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing (if the Soviets made a reciprocal commitment) would go into effect on 31 October 1958. This ban was later extended to 13 months (31 December 1959), but on 29 December 1959 the U.S. announced an end to the voluntary moratorium although it also promised not the renew testing without advance public notice.

    This decision not the extend the formal moratorium commitment may have been due to the status of the negotiations, which were faring very poorly. On 3 January 1960, Khrushchev pledged that the Soviet Union would not conduct nuclear testing unless the Western nations resumed it. The US, the UK and France made no move to resume testing, and so the matter rested for nearly three years.

    On 31 August 1961, Khrushchev announced that the Soviet Union was abruptly abandoning the nuclear testing moratorium, which they (and the United States) had observed for 34 months. The next day, on 1 September 1961, the Soviet Union began an atmospheric test series of unprecedented magnitude with a 16 Kt atmospheric nuclear shot. Two weeks later, the U.S. responded by initiating Operation Nougat.

    This series was conducted at the Nevada Test Site, which permitted rapid initiation of tests, but restricted them to low yields (and mostly underground test shots) due to fallout concerns. Although this was still the "era of atmospheric testing", Nougat was actually the first underground test series. Higher yield atmospheric tests followed seven months later with Operation Dominic in the Pacific.

    The assignment of tests to individual "operations" between this time and the end of atmospheric testing is confused and complicated by several overlapping operations - Nougat, Dominic (or Dominic I), Sunbeam (or Dominic II), Fishbowl, Storax, and Roller Coaster. The available documentation on these operations is somewhat unclear unclear or confusing, and it may be that in some cases a shot may be officially included in more than one operation. Definitely and unambiguously assigning shots to operations for this period is thus hard or impossible. Some disagreement about which shots should be properly included with a particular operation may occur. According to this account Operation Nougat included a total of 44 shots, exceeding the previous record holder, Operation Hardtack II, with 37 tests.
    Nougat generally resembles Hardtack II in nature, with extensive testing of low yield tactical devices. Thermonuclear primaries and radiation imploson mockups were also tested. Much attention was paid to simultaneously achieving desired performance and one-point safety in "sealed pit" fission devices, some designs required numerous shots.

    Since all the tests were fired underground, and only a few of them produced true blast craters (i.e. not subsidence craters caused by blast cavity collapse).

    The most publicized event of Nougat was the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory shot Gnome, which 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.

    - Video of the Gnome shot



    Test Shots

    Name Date Size
    Antler September 15, 1961 2.6 kilotons
    Shrew September 16, 1961 < 20 kilotons
    Boomer October 1, 1961 < 20 kilotons
    Chena October 10, 1961 < 20 kilotons
    Mink October 29, 1961 < 20 kilotons
    Fisher December 3, 1962 13.4 kilotons
    Gnome December 10, 1962 3 kilotons
    Mad December 13, 1962 0.5 kilotons
    Ringtail December 17, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Feather December 22, 1962 0.15 kilotons
    Stoat January 9, 1962 5.1 kilotons
    Agouti January 18, 1962 6.4 kt
    Doormouse January 30, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Stillwater February 8, 1962 3.07 kilotons
    Armadillo February 9, 1962 7.1 kilotons
    Hard Hat February 15, 1962 5.7 kilotons
    Chinchilla I February 19, 1962 1.9 kilotons
    Codsaw February 19, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Cimarron February 23, 1962 11.9 kilotons
    Platypus February 24, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Pampas March 1, 1962 9.5 kilotons
    Danny Boy March 5, 1962 0.43 kilotons
    Ermine March 6, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Brazos March 8, 1962 8.4 kilotons
    Hognose March 15, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Hoosic March 28, 1962 3.4 kilotons
    Chinchilla II March 31, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Dormouse Prime April 5, 1962 10.6 kilotons
    Passaic April 6, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Hudson April 12, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Platte April 14, 1962 1.85 kilotons
    Dead April 21, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Black April 27, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Paca May 7, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Arikaree May 10, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Aadvark May 12, 1962 40 kilotons
    Eel May 19, 1962 4.5 kilotons
    White May 25, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Racoon June 1, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Packrat June 6, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Des Moines June 13, 1962 2.9 kilotons
    Daman I June 21, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Haymaker June 27, 1962 67 kilotons
    Marshmallow June 28, 1962 < 20 kilotons
    Sacramento June 30, 1962 < 20 kilotons









    Published on: 2010-10-11 (1719 reads)

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