"Tsar bomb": as the USSR showed the world "Kuzkin mother"
55 years ago, on October 30, 1961, the Soviet Union tested at the Novaya Zemlya training ground (Arkhangelsk region) the world's most powerful thermonuclear device - the experimental aviation a hydrogen bomb with a capacity of about 58 megatons of TNT ("product 602"; unofficial names: "Tsar bomb", "Kuzkina mother"). The thermonuclear charge was dropped from the converted Tu-95 strategic bomber and detonated at an altitude of 3,7 thousand meters above the ground.
Nuclear and thermonuclear weapon
The basis of a nuclear (atomic) weapon is an uncontrolled chain reaction of the fission of heavy atomic nuclei.
For the implementation of the fission chain reaction, either uranium-235 or plutonium-239 are used (less commonly, uranium-233). Thermonuclear weapons (hydrogen bombs) use the energy of an uncontrolled nuclear fusion reaction, that is, the conversion of light elements into heavier ones (for example, two “heavy hydrogen” atoms, deuterium, into one helium atom). Thermonuclear weapons have a greater potential for explosion than conventional nuclear bombs.
Development of thermonuclear weapons in the USSR
In the USSR, the development of thermonuclear weapons began in the late 1940-ies. Andrei Sakharov, Yuli Khariton, Igor Tamm and other scientists in Design Bureau No. XXUMX (KB-11, known as Arzamas-11; now the Russian Federal Nuclear Center - All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics, RFNC-VNIIEF; Sarov, Nizhny Novgorod region.) . In 16, the first draft of a thermonuclear weapon was developed. The first Soviet hydrogen bomb RDS-1949 with a capacity of 6 kilotons was tested on 400 August 12 at the Semipalatinsk test site (Kazakh SSR, now Kazakhstan). Unlike the United States, which tested the first Ivy Mike 1953 thermonuclear explosive device in November 1, the RDS-1952 was a full-fledged bomb suitable for bomber delivery. Ivy Mike weighed 6 t and looked more like a small plant in its dimensions, but the power of its explosion was at that time a record 73,8 megatons.
At the beginning of the 1950s, when it became clear that the most promising in terms of the power of the explosion energy was a fusion charge, a discussion began in the USSR about the method of its delivery. Missile armament at that time was imperfect; the bombers capable of delivering heavy charges were not possessed by the USSR Air Force.
Therefore, September 12 1952. Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Joseph Stalin signed a decree "On the design and construction of the 627 object" - a submarine with a nuclear power plant. Initially it was assumed that it would be the carrier of a torpedo with a T-15 thermonuclear charge with a power up to 100 megatons, the main purpose of which would be the naval base and the port cities of the enemy. The main developer of the torpedo was Andrei Sakharov.
Subsequently, in his book "Memoirs," the scientist wrote that Rear Admiral Peter Fomin, who was responsible for project 627 from fleet, was shocked by the "cannibalistic character" of the T-15. According to Sakharov, Fomin told him that "sailors are used to fighting an armed enemy in open battle" and that for him "the very idea of such a massacre is disgusting." Subsequently, this conversation influenced Sakharov’s decision to engage in human rights activities. The T-15 was never taken into service due to unsuccessful tests in the mid-1950s, and the Project 627 submarine received conventional, non-nuclear torpedoes.
Heavy Duty Projects
The decision to create an aviation super-power thermonuclear charge was made by the USSR government in November 1955. Initially, the Bomb was developed by Research Institute No. 1011 (Research Institute-1011; known as Chelyabinsk-70; now the Russian Federal Nuclear Center - All-Russian Research Institute of Technical Physics named after Academician EI Zababakhin, RFNC-VNIITF; Snezhinsk city, Chelyabinsk region).
Since the end of 1955, under the direction of the chief designer of the institute, Kirill Shchelkin, work has been carried out on the “202 product” (estimated power is approximately 30 megatons). However, in 1958, the country's top leadership has closed work in this area.
Two years later, on July 10 1961, at a meeting with the developers and creators of nuclear weapons, the first secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers Nikita Khrushchev announced the decision of the country's leadership to begin developing and testing the hydrogen bomb in 100 megatons. The work was entrusted to the employees of KB-11. Under the leadership of Andrei Sakharov, a group of theoretical physicists developed the “602 product” (AN-602). For it was used the case, already manufactured in NII-1011.
Characteristics of the "King-bomb"
The bomb was a ballistic body of a streamlined shape with tail feathers.
The dimensions of the “602 product” were the same as the “202 product”. Length - 8 m, diameter - 2,1 m, weight - 26,5 t.
The calculated charge power was 100 megatons in TNT equivalent. But after experts had assessed the impact of such an explosion on the environment, it was decided to test a bomb with a reduced charge.
To transport the bombs, a heavy strategic bomber Tu-95 was re-equipped, which received an index "B". Because of the impossibility of placing it in the bomb compartment of the car, a special device on the suspension was developed, which ensured the rise of the bomb to the fuselage and secured it to three synchronously controlled locks.
The safety of the carrier’s crew was ensured by a specially developed system of several parachutes at the bomb: exhaust, braking and the main area of 1,6 thousand square meters. m. They were ejected from the rear of the hull one by one, slowing the fall of the bomb (up to a speed of about 20-25 m / s). During this time, the Tu-95B managed to fly away from the explosion site to a safe distance.
The leadership of the USSR did not conceal the intention to test a powerful thermonuclear device. Nikita Khrushchev announced 17 of October 1961 at the opening of the XX CPSU Congress about the upcoming test: I want to say that we are very successful in testing and new nuclear weapons. Soon we will complete these tests. Obviously at the end of October. In conclusion, we will probably blow up a hydrogen bomb with a capacity of 50 million tons of trotyl. We said that we have a bomb in 100 of millions of tons of TNT. And this is true. But we will not blow up such a bomb. "
The UN General Assembly adopted the 27 of October 1961 in a resolution in which it urged the USSR to refrain from conducting a test of a super-power bomb.
The test of an experimental "602 product" was held on 30 on October 1961 in Novaya Zemlya. Tu-95V with a crew of nine (lead pilot - Andrey Durnovtsev, lead navigator - Ivan Tick) flew from the Olenya military airfield on the Kola Peninsula. The bomb was dropped from a height of 10,5 km to the site of the North Island of the archipelago, in the area of the Matochkin Strait. The explosion occurred at an altitude of 3,7 km from the ground and 4,2 km above sea level, at 188 seconds. after separating the bomb from the bomber.
The flash lasted 65-70 seconds. The "nuclear mushroom" rose to a height of 67 km, the diameter of the hot dome reached 20 km. The cloud has long retained its shape and was visible at a distance of several hundred kilometers. Despite the overcast, a flash of light was observed at a distance of more than 1 thousand. Km. The shock wave circled the globe three times due to electromagnetic radiation on the 40-50 min. Radio communication was interrupted for many hundreds of kilometers from the landfill. Radioactive contamination in the area of the epicenter turned out to be small (1 million milligens per hour) so the research staff was able to work there without danger to health through 2 hours after the explosion.
According to experts, the power of the superbomb was about 58 megatons in TNT. This is about three thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima in 1945 (13 kilotons).
The test was filmed both from the ground and from the board of the Tu-95В, which at the time of the explosion managed to move a distance of more than 45 km, as well as from the IL-14 plane (at the time of the explosion was at a distance of 55 km). At the last, the Marshal of the Soviet Union, Kirill Moskalenko, and the USSR Minister of Medium Machine Building, Yefim Slavsky, observed the tests.
Reaction in the world to the Soviet superbomb
The demonstration by the Soviet Union of the possibility of creating thermonuclear charges of unlimited power pursued the goal of establishing parity in nuclear tests, primarily with the United States.
After lengthy negotiations on 5 on August 1963 in Moscow, representatives of the United States, the USSR and the United Kingdom signed the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in Outer Space, Under Water and on the Surface of the Earth. Since its entry into force, the USSR has produced only underground nuclear tests. The last explosion was carried out on October 24 1990 on Novaya Zemlya, after which the Soviet Union announced a unilateral moratorium on testing nuclear weapons. At present, Russia also adheres to this moratorium.
Awards to creators
In 1962, for successful testing of the most powerful thermonuclear bomb, members of the crew of the aircraft carrier Andrei Durnovtsev and Ivan Kleshch were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. Eight employees of KB-11 were awarded the title of Hero of Socialist Labor (of which Andrei Sakharov received him for the third time), 40 employees became laureates of the Lenin Prize.
"Tsar Bomb" in museums
Full-sized models of Tsar-bomb (without control systems and combat units) are stored in the museums of RFNC-VNIIEF in Sarov (the first national museum of nuclear weapons; opened in 1992) and RFNC-VNIITF in Snezhinsk.
In September, the 2015 of Sarov bomb was exhibited at the Moscow exhibition "70 years of the nuclear industry. The chain reaction of success" in the Central Manege.
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