NUCLEAR AWARENESS, music by KubikMilk. This video is intended for nuclear awareness and is a compilation of declassified library of Atmospheric Nuclear Weapons Testing 1951 – 1963 by US Army. The nuclear weapons tests of the United States were performed between 1945 and 1992 as part of the nuclear arms race. The United States conducted around 1,054 nuclear tests by official count, including 216 atmospheric, underwater, and space tests.

Atmospheric Nuclear Weapons Testing 1951-1963

Los Alamos, working with the Army Air Force, developed two bomb models by spring 1944 and began testing them, without the fissionable materials, with drops from a B–29 bomber. The plutonium implosion prototype was named Fat Man.

Fat Man plutonium bomb being readied at Tinian in the Pacific. Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Fat Man plutonium bomb. Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The uranium gun prototype became Little Boy. Field tests with the uranium prototype eased remaining doubts about the artillery method. Confidence in the weapon was high enough that a full test prior to combat use was seen as unnecessary.

Model of Little Boy uranium bomb. Source: Department of Energy.
Model of Little Boy uranium bomb. Source: Department of Energy.

The plutonium device was more problematic. It would have to be tested before use, under the name Trinity device.

On July 16, 1945, the Trinity device detonated over the New Mexico desert and released approximately 21 kilotons of explosive yield.

The predawn blast, which temporarily blinded the nearest observers 10,000 yards away, created an orange and yellow fireball about 2,000 feet in diameter from which emerged a narrow column that rose and flattened into a mushroom shape.

The blast scoured the desert floor, leaving a shallow crater, 10 feet deep and some 400 yards across, in which radioactivity far exceeded pretest estimates. More efficient than expected, the shot dropped little fallout on the test site beyond 1,200 yards of ground zero.

Most radioactivity was contained within the dense white mushroom cloud that topped out at 25,000 feet. Within an hour, the cloud had largely dispersed toward the north northeast, all the while dropping a trail of fission products.

Off-site fallout was heavy. Several ranch families, missed by the Army survey, received significant exposures in the two weeks following Trinity. The families, nonetheless, evidenced little external injury. Livestock were not as fortunate, suffering skin burns, bleeding, and loss of hair.

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Related Resources:

  • Origins of the Nevada Test Site, by Terrence R. Fehner and F. G. Gosling
  • The Manhattan Project: Making the Atomic Bomb * by F. G. Gosling
  • The United States Department of Energy: A Summary History, 1977 – 1994 * by Terrence R. Fehner and Jack M. Holl

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