| Nuclear weapons testing |
Castle Romeo mushroom cloud
|Test series||Operation Castle|
|Test site||Bikini Atoll|
|Date||March 27, 1954|
Castle Romeo was the code name given to one of the tests in the Operation Castle series of American nuclear tests. It was the first test of the TX-17 thermonuclear weapon, the first deployed thermonuclear bomb.
It was detonated on March 27, 1954, at Bikini Atoll of the Marshall Islands, on a barge moored in the middle of the crater from the Castle Bravo test. It was the first such barge-based test, a necessity that had come about because the powerful thermonuclear devices completely obliterated the small islands following detonation.
The tested design became the first air-droppable thermonuclear device, initially the "emergency capability" EC-17, of which only five were made. The first deployable staged radiation implosion Teller-Ulam thermonuclear weapon evolved into the Mark 17, of which 200 were made. Both of those were huge devices, weighing 39,000 pounds (18 t) and 42,000 pounds (19 t) respectively. As a result, only the B-36 was capable of carrying that first generation of thermonuclear bombs. They were also some of the largest yield devices deployed by Strategic Air Command — the EC-17 producing around 10 megatonnes (Mt), and the Mk 17 between 11 and 15 Mt. They were all out of service by August 1957.
The Runt TX-15 device was a weaponized dry fusion bomb, using lithium deuteride fuel for the fusion stage of a staged fusion bomb, unlike the cryogenic liquid deuterium of the first-generation Ivy Mike fusion device.
Similar to the Shrimp TX-21 device tested before in the Castle Bravo test, it differed from that device in using lithium deuteride derived from natural lithium (a mixture of 7.5% lithium-6 and 92.5% lithium-7 isotopes) as the source of the tritium and deuterium fusion fuels, as opposed to the relative high enrichment level of lithium (approximately 40% lithium-6) deuteride used in Bravo.
Like the Bravo test, it produced far more than its predicted yield, and for the same reason — an unexpected participation of the common lithium-7 isotope in fusion reactions. Although it had been predicted to produce a yield of 4 megatons with a range of 1.5 to 7 megatons (before the results of the Bravo test caused an upgrade in the estimates, it had originally been estimated to produce 3–5 megatons), it actually produced a yield of 11 megatons, the third-largest test ever conducted by the U.S.
Like the Ivy Mike and Castle Bravo tests, a large percentage of the yield was produced by fast fission of the natural uranium "tamper"; 7 megatons of the yield were from this source.
One particular image of the Castle Romeo fireball (at right) has been one of the most highly reprinted images of a nuclear explosion. It often serves as a stand-in for nuclear weapons in general for news stories, book covers, magazine articles, etc., likely because of its threatening appearance and extreme red, orange, and yellow hues. The fact that the explosion is of a US megaton-range weapon has not prevented it to be used to represent the arsenals of other states or weapons of far lower yields in many cases, which would have a very different appearance.
One prominent usage is as the backdrop for heavy metal band Megadeth's greatest hits compilation Greatest Hits: Back to the Start . The image of Castle Romeo was also used on the cover of the New York hardcore music pioneers Cro-Mags debut album The Age of Quarrel . It is also featured on the title screen of Team17's turn-based artillery game Worms Armageddon .
The Castle Romeo photos are sometimes confused with that of Castle Bravo. The two nuclear blasts looked very similar, and they were both conducted in the same location, but much of Bravo's photographic record was destroyed because of its unexpectedly high yield.
Nuclear weapon designs are physical, chemical, and engineering arrangements that cause the physics package of a nuclear weapon to detonate. There are three existing basic design types:
Operation Castle was a United States series of high-yield (high-energy) nuclear tests by Joint Task Force 7 (JTF-7) at Bikini Atoll beginning in March 1954. It followed Operation Upshot–Knothole and preceded Operation Teapot.
Castle Bravo was the first in a series of high-yield thermonuclear weapon design tests conducted by the United States at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, as part of Operation Castle. Detonated on March 1, 1954, the device was the most powerful nuclear device detonated by the United States and its first lithium deuteride fueled thermonuclear weapon. Castle Bravo's yield was 15 megatons of TNT, 2.5 times the predicted 6.0 megatons, due to unforeseen additional reactions involving 7Li, which led to the unexpected radioactive contamination of areas to the east of Bikini Atoll. At the time, it was the most powerful artificial explosion in history.
Ivy Mike was the codename given to the first full-scale test of a thermonuclear device, in which part of the explosive yield comes from nuclear fusion. Ivy Mike was detonated on November 1, 1952, by the United States on the island of Elugelab in Enewetak Atoll, in the now independent island nation of the Marshall Islands, as part of Operation Ivy. It was the first full test of the Teller–Ulam design, a staged fusion device.
The B-41 was a thermonuclear weapon deployed by the United States Strategic Air Command in the early 1960s. It was the most powerful nuclear bomb ever developed by the United States, with a maximum yield of 25 megatons. The B-41 was the only three-stage thermonuclear weapon fielded by the U.S.
Joe 4 was an American nickname for the first Soviet test of a thermonuclear weapon on August 12, 1953, that detonated with a force equivalent to 400 kilotons of TNT.
RDS-37 was the Soviet Union's first two-stage hydrogen bomb, first tested on 22 November 1955. The weapon had a nominal yield of approximately 3 megatons. It was scaled down to 1.6 megatons for the live test.
A boosted fission weapon usually refers to a type of nuclear bomb that uses a small amount of fusion fuel to increase the rate, and thus yield, of a fission reaction. The neutrons released by the fusion reactions add to the neutrons released due to fission, allowing for more neutron-induced fission reactions to take place. The rate of fission is thereby greatly increased such that much more of the fissile material is able to undergo fission before the core explosively disassembles. The fusion process itself adds only a small amount of energy to the process, perhaps 1%.
Castle Yankee was the code name given to one of the tests in the Operation Castle series of American tests of thermonuclear bombs. It was originally intended as a test of a TX-16/EC-16 Jughead bomb, but the design became obsolete after the Castle Bravo test was successful. The test device was replaced with a TX-24/EC-24 Runt II bomb which was detonated on May 5, 1954, at Bikini Atoll. It released energy equivalent to 13.5 megatons of TNT, the second-largest yield ever in a U.S. fusion weapon test.
Castle Union was the code name given to one of the tests in the Operation Castle series of United States nuclear tests. It was the first test of the TX-14 thermonuclear weapon, one of the first deployed U.S. thermonuclear bombs.
A thermonuclear weapon, fusion weapon or hydrogen bomb, is a second-generation nuclear weapon design. Its greater sophistication affords it vastly greater destructive power than first-generation atomic bombs, a more compact size, a lower mass or a combination of these benefits. Characteristics of nuclear fusion reactions make possible the use of non-fissile depleted uranium as the weapon's main fuel, thus allowing more efficient use of scarce fissile material such as uranium-235 (U-235) or plutonium-239 (Pu-239).
This article chronicles the history and origins of the Teller–Ulam design, the technical concept behind modern thermonuclear weapons, also known as hydrogen bombs. This design, the details of which are military secrets known to only a handful of major nations, is believed to be used in virtually all modern nuclear weapons which make up the arsenals of the major nuclear powers.
The B46 nuclear bomb was an American high-yield thermonuclear bomb which was designed and tested in the late 1950s. It was never deployed. Though originally intended to be a production design, the B46 ended up being only an intermediate prototype of the B-53 and was test fired several times. These prototypes were known as TX-46 units (Test/Experimental).
The Mark 24 nuclear bomb was an American thermonuclear bomb design, based on the third American thermonuclear bomb test, Castle Yankee. The Mark 24 bomb was tied as the largest weight and size nuclear bomb ever deployed by the United States, with the same size and weight as the Mark 17 nuclear bomb which used a very similar design concept but unenriched Lithium.
The Mark 15 nuclear bomb, or Mk-15, was a 1950s American thermonuclear bomb, the first relatively lightweight thermonuclear bomb created by the United States.
For the Sinclair Research Ltd. SC/MP based computer system see MK14. For the torpedo see Mark 14 torpedo.
The Mark 16 nuclear bomb was a large thermonuclear bomb, based on the design of the Ivy Mike, the first thermonuclear device ever test fired. The Mark 16 is more properly designated TX-16/EC-16 as it only existed in Experimental/Emergency Capability (EC) versions.
The Mark 17 and Mark 24 were the first mass-produced hydrogen bombs deployed by the United States. The two differed in their "primary" stages. They entered service in 1954, and were phased out by 1957.
The Mark 36 was a heavy high-yield United States nuclear bomb designed in the 1950s. It was a thermonuclear bomb, using a multi-stage fusion secondary system to generate yields up to about 10 megatons.
The British hydrogen bomb programme was the ultimately successful British effort to develop hydrogen bombs between 1952 and 1958. During the early part of the Second World War, Britain had a nuclear weapons project, codenamed Tube Alloys. At the Quebec Conference in August 1943, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Quebec Agreement, merging Tube Alloys into the American Manhattan Project, in which many of Britain's top scientists participated. The British government trusted that America would share nuclear technology, which it considered to be a joint discovery, but the United States Atomic Energy Act of 1946 ended technical cooperation. Fearing a resurgence of American isolationism, and the loss of Britain's great power status, the British government resumed its own development effort, which was codenamed "High Explosive Research".
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