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    Operation Plumbbob - 1957

    / Main Archive / USA /




    Hood - Click me Hood - 05/07/1957
    Operation Plumbbob was a series of nuclear tests conducted between May 28, and October 7 1957 at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). It was the biggest, longest, and most controversial test series conducted in the continental United States. The LASL shots were named after deceased scientists, the UCRL shots were named after North American mountains.

    Operation Plumbbob consisted of 29 explosions, of which two did not produce any nuclear yield. 21 laboratories and government agencies were involved. While most Operation Plumbbob tests contributed to the development of warheads for intercontinental and intermediate range missiles, they also tested air defense and anti-submarine warheads with small yields. They included 43 military effects tests on civil and military structures, radiation and bio-medical studies, and aircraft structural tests. Operation Plumbbob had the tallest tower tests to date in the U.S. nuclear testing program, as well as high-altitude balloon tests.

    1,200 pigs were subjected to bio-medical experiments and blast-effects studies during Operation Plumbbob. On shot Priscilla (37 KT), 719 pigs were used in various different experiments on Frenchman Flat. Some pigs were placed in elevated cages and provided with suits made of different materials, to test which materials proved the best protection from the thermal pulse. Other pigs were placed in pens at measured distances from the epicenter behind large sheets of glass to test the effects of flying debris on living targets.

    - Video of animal testing

    Approximately 18,000 members of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines participated in exercises Desert Rock VII and VIII during Operation Plumbbob. The military was interested in knowing how the average foot-soldier would stand up, physically and psychologically, to the rigors of the tactical nuclear battlefield.
    Owens - Click me Owens - 25/07/1957


    Studies were conducted of radiation contamination and fallout from a simulated accidental detonation of a weapon; and projects concerning earth motion, blast loading and neutron output were carried out.

    Nuclear weapons safety experiments were conducted to study the possibility of a nuclear weapon detonation during an accident. On July 26, 1957, a safety experiment, "Pascal-A" was detonated in an unstemmed hole at NTS, becoming the first underground shaft nuclear test. The knowledge gained here would provide data to prevent nuclear yields in case of accidental detonations, for example a plane crash.

    The Rainier shot, conducted September 19, 1957, was the first fully contained underground nuclear test, meaning that no fission products were vented into the atmosphere. This 1.7 kiloton test could be detected around the world by seismologists using ordinary seismic instruments. The Rainier test became the prototype for larger and more powerful underground tests.

    During the Pascal-B nuclear test, a heavy (900 kg) steel plate cap (a piece of armor plate) was blasted off the top of a test shaft at an unknown speed. The test's experimental designer Dr. Brownlee had performed a highly approximate calculation that suggested that the nuclear explosion, combined with the specific design of the shaft, would accelerate the plate to six times escape velocity. The plate was never found, but Dr. Brownlee believes that the plate never left the atmosphere (it may even have been vaporized by compression heating of the atmosphere due to its high speed). The calculated velocity was sufficiently interesting that the crew trained a high-speed camera on the plate, which unfortunately only appeared in one frame, but this nevertheless gave a very high lower boundry for the speed. After the event, Dr. Robert R. Brownlee described the best estimate of the cover's speed from the photographic evidence as "going like a bat!"

    This incident was reputedly used as part of the technical justification for the Orion project for possible use of nuclear blasts for outer-space propulsion.



    - Click on a thumbnail for a larger version





    Test Shots


    Video Name Yield Date |UTC| Type Warhead Location LAT/LONG
    Bolzmann 12 Kt 11:55 28/05/1957 Tower @150m XW-40 NTS Area 7c 37.09470 -116.02360
    - Franklin 0.14 Kt 11:55 02/06/1957 Tower @90m XW-30 NTS Area 3 37.04780 -116.02110
    - Lassen 0.6 Kt 11:45 05/06/1957 Baloon @150m - NTS Area 9a 37.13470 -116.04080
    - Wilson 10 Kt 11:45 18/06/1957 Baloon @150m XW-45x1 NTS Area 9a 37.13470 -116.04080
    Priscilla 37 Kt 13:30 24/06/1957 Baloon @210m TX-15/39 NTS Area 5 36.79810 -115.92890
    - Coulomb-A 0 Kt 17:30 01/07/1957 Surface @0m XW-31 NTS Area 3h 37.04000 -116.03000
    Hood 74 Kt 11:40 05/07/1957 Baloon @460m - NTS Area 9a 37.13470 -116.04080
    Diablo 17 Kt 11:30 15/07/1957 Tower @150m - NTS Area 2b 37.15030 -116.10860
    John 1.7 Kt 14:00 19/07/1957 AA Rocket @9140m W-25 NTS Area 10 37.16060 -116.05310
    Kepler 10 Kt 11:50 24/07/1957 Tower @150m XW-35 NTS Area 4 37.09500 -116.10300
    Owens 9.7 Kt 13:29 25/07/1957 Baloon @150m XW-51 NTS Area 9b 37.13470 -116.04080
    - Pascal-A 0.01 Kt 08:00 26/07/1957 Subsurface @150m - NTS Area 3j 37.05180 -116.03340
    Stokes 19 Kt 12:25 07/08/1957 Tower @150m XW-30 NTS Area 1 37.05310 -116.10250
    - Saturn 0 Kt 01:00 10/08/1957 Tunnel @-39m XW-45x1 NTS Area 12c 37.19390 -116.03330
    - Shasta 17 Kt 12:00 18/08/1957 Tower @150m - NTS Area 2a 37.12800 -116.10640
    - Doppler 11 Kt 12:30 23/08/1957 Baloon @460m XW-34 NTS Area 7b 37.08670 -116.02360
    - Pascal-B 0.01 Kt 22:35 27/08/1957 Shaft @-150m - NTS Area 3c 37.04910 -116.03400
    - Franklin Prime 4.7 Kt 12:40 30/08/1957 Baloon @230m XW-30 NTS Area 7b 37.08670 -116.02360
    Smoky 44 Kt 12:30 31/08/1957 Tower @210m TX-41 NTS Area 2c 37.18720 -116.06780
    Galileo 11 Kt 12:40 02/09/1957 Tower @150m NTS Area 1 37.05310 -116.10250
    - Wheeler 0.2 Kt 12:45 06/09/1957 Baloon @150m XW-51 NTS Area 9a 37.13470 -116.04080
    - Coulomb-B 0.3 Kt 20:50 06/09/1957 Surface @0m XW-31 NTS Area 3g 37.04300 -116.02600
    - Laplace 1 Kt 13:00 08/09/1957 Baloon @230m - NTS Area 7b 37.08670 -116.02360
    Fizeau 11 Kt 16:45 14/09/1957 Tower @150m XW-34 NTS Area 3b 37.03360 -116.03140
    Newton 12 Kt 12:50 16/09/1957 Baloon @460m XW-31 NTS Area 7a 37.08670 -116.02360
    - Rainier 1.7 Kt 16:59 19/09/1957 Tunnel @272m W-25 NTS Area 12b 37.19580 -116.20310
    Whitney 19 Kt 12:30 23/09/1957 Tower @150m XW-27 NTS Area 2 37.13830 -116.11750
    Charleston 12 Kt 13:00 28/09/1957 Baloon @460m - NTS Area 9 37.03360 -116.03140
    - Morgan 8 Kt 13:00 07/10/1957 Baloon @150m XW-51x1 NTS Area 9 37.13470 -116.04080









    Published on: 2010-09-29 (1981 reads)

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