[ RadSafe ] Testing bombs

franz.schoenhofer at chello.at franz.schoenhofer at chello.at
Sat Jun 28 11:27:22 CDT 2008


I have been last October at the Trinity Site, south of Albuquerque, near Alamogordo, where the US exploded the first nuclear bomb as a test. It was a plutonium bomb of the type "Fat Man". The paralelly developed type of bomb using very highly enriched uranium was not separately tested since it was more than sure, that it would work. Actuall the "test" was the dropping on Hiroshima. The bomb on Nagasaki was of the Fat Man Plutonium type. As we know, both designs worked..... 

Regarding hydrogen bombs (rather deuterium-tritium bombs) the first design of the US was described as a huge dewar vessel, not at all suitable for delivery by plane or rockets. As we know, they are now well suitable for such delivery. It seems to me that tests have on one hand been conducted to verify improvements to nuclear weapons technology and on the other hand simply because of political reasons to impress the nuclear counterpart to demonstrate nuclear (war) capability. Remember the 60+ Megaton bomb exploded by the USSR shortly before the 1962 moratorium. (BTW there is a nice anecdote: Krushtshow said, that the bomb was originally planned only for 50 Megatons, "but we are not going to punish the scientists because of this error".

I hope this answers your questions. Feel free to contact me if further information is needed. 

BTW, I recommend everybody on RADSAFE to visit the historical Trinity Site. It is accessible to the public on two days per year only. I further recommend a visit to the atomic museum in Albuquerque and there is a lot of interesting books on these topics. The museum at Los Alamos is also worth visiting. 

Best regards,


---- Steven Dapra <sjd at swcp.com> schrieb:
> June 28, 2008
> 	From time to time I have read that one of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs 
> had to be tested before it was used, and that one did not --- that the 
> engineers were so certain the latter bomb would explode that they didn't 
> bother testing it.  I also read recently that hydrogen bombs must be 
> tested.  Of these three types of bombs, which ones must be tested, and 
> why?  For the one that did not have to be tested, why not?  (I don't have 
> any bombs I want to test, I am merely curious.)
> Steven Dapra
> sjd at swcp.com
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