Military Review

50 years ago, Nikita Khrushchev made a statement about the creation of a hydrogen bomb in the USSR

50 years ago, Nikita Khrushchev made a statement about the creation of a hydrogen bomb in the USSR

50 years ago, Nikita Khrushchev made a statement in which he informed the world that a new weapon terrible destructive power - hydrogen bomb. It was a very important event of strategic importance. By this time, the world has developed a very difficult political situation. The USSR and the United States entered a new round of confrontation. 1 May 1960, an American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft piloted by pilot Francis Powers, violated Soviet airspace and was shot down in the Sverdlovsk region. Powers was able to escape, but was arrested. As a result, the visit of the American President Eisenhower to the Union, the meeting of the heads of government of the four powers in Paris and other initiatives to bring the two systems closer were canceled.

The interests of the USSR and the USA in Africa, where the process of decolonization was going on, and the two systems - the capitalist and socialist blocs, fought for influence over the new states. Passions flared up around Cuba, where Fidel Castro came to power, in 1962, the Caribbean crisis occurred. In Western Europe, the main stumbling block was the problem of the German peace settlement, which was based on the status of West Berlin. 13 August 1961 was built overnight in the famous Berlin Wall, which caused a storm of protests in the West. A lot of controversy was caused by the problem of mutual arms reduction and control of nuclear weapons, the issue of banning nuclear tests.

It is clear that in such conditions the appearance of the hydrogen bomb in the USSR became a weighty argument for the West, forced to be more restrained in words and deeds. The nuclear arsenal of the USSR became a powerful deterrent for the West, having put off the threat of a new destructive world war or serious, large-scale regional conflicts for decades. It should be noted that the USSR’s nuclear arsenal and nuclear technologies created by the genius of Soviet scientists are still the guarantor of Russia's security.

Of stories create a hydrogen bomb in the US and the USSR

Thermonuclear weapons (it’s also hydrogen) are a type of nuclear weapons, the destructive power of which is based on using the energy of the nuclear fusion reaction of light elements into heavier ones (for example, synthesis of one helium atom nucleus from two nuclei of deuterium atoms), in which a huge amount of energy is released. The history of thermonuclear research begins in 1941. This year, Japanese physicist Tokutaro Hagiwara expressed the idea of ​​the possibility of initiating a thermonuclear reaction between hydrogen nuclei using an explosive chain reaction of uranium-235 fission. Then the same assumption was made by Enrico Fermi in a conversation with Edward Teller. This was the beginning of the work of E. Teller on the idea of ​​creating a thermonuclear superbomb. In the summer of 1942, when discussing plans for the future Los Alamos laboratory in Berkeley, Teller presented the first ideas that became the basis of the “classic super” project. By the end of 1945, the concept took on a holistic nature. Its basis was the idea of ​​the possibility of excitation by a stream of neutrons that came out of a primary atomic bomb of a gun type based on uranium-235, nuclear detonation in a long cylinder with liquid deuterium (through an intermediate chamber with a DT mixture). In the spring of 1946, Klaus Fuchs, with the participation of John Von Neumann, made a new invention, proposing to use in the “classic super” a new initiation system — an additional secondary node from a liquid DT mixture. At the end of May 1946, Fuchs and Von Neumann together submitted an application for the invention of a new scheme of the initiating “classic super” compartment using radiation implosion.

At the end of August, 1946, E. Teller, put forward a new, alternative to the "classic super" thermonuclear charge scheme. He called it "alarm clock". The new design was composed of alternating spherical layers of fissile materials and thermonuclear fuel (deuterium, tritium, possibly their chemical compounds). Such a scheme should have significantly increased the energy release and the rate of thermonuclear reactions. However, such a scheme required a high-power atomic initiator to initiate. As a result, the large size and weight of the structure made it very difficult or even impossible to compress it with chemical explosives. In the fall of 1947, Taylor proposed to use a new thermonuclear fuel in the “alarm clock” - lithium-6 deuteride.

At the beginning of 1950, US President Truman instructed the Atomic Energy Commission to continue work on all types of nuclear weapons, including the superbomb. In 1951, the decision was made to ground tests with thermonuclear reactions. Among them were the tests of the “reinforced” atomic bomb “Point” and the verification of the scheme of the “classic super - the George project” (the test device itself was called the “Cylinder”). The basis for the design of the device was the idea of ​​the Fuchs-Neumann 1946 of the year. It was during the preparation of this test that the fundamental principle of designing hydrogen (thermonuclear weapons) was mastered, when the radiation energy of the primary atomic charge is retained and used to compress and initiate the secondary physically separated unit with thermonuclear fuel. 9 May 1951, the Americans successfully conducted the test "George", it was the first explosion that ignited a small thermonuclear flame. This test was roughly 40-m in a series of nuclear tests conducted in the United States at that time.

In the autumn of 1951, it was decided to conduct a full-scale test of a thermonuclear device on a new principle. It got the name "Michael." In this test, liquid deuterium was selected as the thermonuclear fuel. November 1 The 1952 of the year passed a successful test of the device, the TNT equivalent of which was 10 million tons. The problem was that the thermonuclear device was not transportable, it was built on the spot (the construction in the 3-storey house filled with liquid deuterium). Another test was conducted 1 March 1954 of the year - a series of nuclear tests "Castle" - the explosion "Bravo". It was the most powerful explosion in the history of American nuclear testing. 21 May 1956 in the United States conducted the first discharge of a thermonuclear charge from an airplane (Cherokee test).

In the Soviet Union, scientist Ya. I. Frenkel was the first to express the idea of ​​using high - billionth - temperatures of an atomic charge arising from an explosion, for carrying out synthetic reactions (for example, the formation of helium from hydrogen), which "are the energy source of stars and which could be even more increase the energy released by the explosion of the main substance. " This idea was expressed by Frenkel in a memo addressed to I.V. Kurchatov from 22 September 1945 of the year. It should be noted that Kurchatov already had information about the work in this direction by American scientists. Such information came to the USSR through intelligence channels. Some pieces of information appeared in the scientific press. In particular, the British newspaper "The Times" in its 19 issue in October 1945 of the year reported on the possibility of creating a "superbomb". Professor Oliphant, speaking in Birmingham on October 18 1945, reported that bombs that are X times more powerful than those used against Japan can now be used. In the opinion, professors may create superbombs in the future, the power of which will exceed the capacity of existing charges 100 times.

It is clear that such data could not help but worry the Soviet leadership. Therefore, Kurchatov gave Yu.B. Khariton is instructed to consider the problem of the possibility of releasing the energy of light elements. In his group were included physicists I.I. Gurevich, Ya.B. Zeldovich and I.Ya. Pomeranchuk. 17 December 1945 at a meeting of the Technical Council of the Special Committee Zeldovich outlined the main provisions of the report "The Use of Nuclear Energy of Light Elements". Scientists have confirmed the possibility of initiating nuclear detonation in a cylinder with deuterium. In June, 1946, a group of scientists of the Institute of Chemical Physics, USSR Academy of Sciences, composed of A.S. Kompaneytsa and S.P. Dyakova under the supervision of Ya.B. Zeldovich began to carry out theoretical work on the possible release of the nuclear energy of light elements.

At the same time, intelligence and new reports in the open press continued to flow to the USSR. So, in the February issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists for 1947, the Teller article was published the year. 28 September 1947, the first meeting of the Soviet intelligence officer A.S. Feklisov with the German physicist Klaus Fuchs, who confirmed that theoretical work on the superbomb led by Teller and Fermi is under way in the United States. The German scientist spoke about some of the design features of the device, the principles of action and noted the use of tritium along with deuterium. In October 1947, through intelligence channels, a message was received about an attempt by Americans to cause a chain reaction in a medium of deuterium, tritium and lithium.

3 November 1947 year the work of the group Ya.B. Zeldovich was heard at a meeting of the Scientific and Technical Council of the First Main Directorate. NTS decided to continue work in this area. 8 February 1948 of the Year The Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted Resolution No.234-98 “On the Work Plan of KB-11”. At present, it is known as the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics - Russian Federal Nuclear Center (VNIIEF-RFNC) in Arzamas-16 (Sarov). Zeldovich was sent to work in this design bureau, while he continued to coordinate the work of the group of scientists remaining at the Institute of Chemical Physics.

13 March 1948, a new meeting took place between Feklisov and Fuchs in London. It was much more productive and played a crucial role in the further development of work on the Soviet thermonuclear bomb. Fuchs handed over material that reported on the “classic super” project, with a new initiation system (a two-step design working on the principle of radiation implosion). The first node was a uranium-235 atomic bomb with a beryllium oxide reflector, and the second was a liquid DT mixture. However, in these materials there was no theoretical confirmation of the possibility of initiating and propagating atomic combustion in a cylinder with liquid deuterium.

The Soviet leadership, having studied these materials, took them as evidence of the possible substantial advancement of the Americans in their development of the superbomb. April 23 Lawrence Beria, he oversaw the atomic project in the USSR, instructed I.V. Kurchatov, B.L. Vannikov and Yu.B. Khariton analyze the materials received and develop proposals for the organization of the necessary work. 5 May 1948, the scientists presented their opinion on the new materials. The proposals of Vannikov, Khariton and Kurchatov formed the basis of the Council of Ministers Decree No. 1989-733 of 10 June 1948 of the Year “On Supplementing the Work Plan of the CB-11”. The design bureau was assigned the task of conducting theoretical and experimental verification of data on the possibility of creating several types of advanced atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs (it was assigned the RDS – 6 index). The Physical Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences was to take part in these works. 10 June 1948 was adopted by another Resolution of the USSR Council of Ministers №1990-774, it ordered the Physics Institute to form a special theoretical group under the guidance of I.Ye. Tamm. The group consisting of I. E. Tamm, S. Z. Belenky and A. D. Sakharov began almost immediately. Soon VL Ginzburg and Yu. A. Romanov joined the work of the special group. The Tamm group did not have access to intelligence and had to check and clarify the calculations on the problem of nuclear deuterium detonation, which were carried out by the Zeldovich group.

Analyzing the calculations of the Zeldovich group, already in September-October 1948 of the year thought about an alternative solution to the problem. The idea arises of a combined bomb in which deuterium should be used in a mixture with uranium-238 in the form of alternating layers. Thus, Sakharov, regardless of Teller, came to a scheme similar to the “alarm clock” scheme. Sakharov's scheme was called puff. And the principle of ionization compression of the thermonuclear fuel, which is its basis, is A.D. Sakharov was called "saccharization".

16 November 1948 of the Year Tamm informed the Director of the Physical Institute about the principal possibility of a new way of using deuterium for detonation, which is based on the combination of deuterium or heavy water with natural uranium-238. 20 January 1949, Sakharov released his first countdown on the "puff". There he proposed the simplest initiation scheme with the placement of a nuclear bomb in the center of a large spherical “puff”. Other schemes have been proposed, including the idea of ​​a two-stage hydrogen bomb design - “using an additional charge of plutonium to pre-compress the“ puff ”. In 1949, the Tamm group was admitted to some Fuchs material, without reference to the source. May 8 Khariton sent Vannikov's opinion on the “puff” in which he supported this idea.

4-9 On June 1949, a series of meetings was held in KB-11 with Vannikov. At the direction of Beria, Sakharov took part in their work. A plan of work on the RDS-6 hydrogen bomb was adopted, it provided for research, both in the “tube” (“classic super”) and in the “puff”.

26 February 1950 was adopted by the Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 827 – 303 “On the work on the creation of RDS – 6”. It ordered the organization of theoretical and theoretical, experimental and design work on the creation of thermonuclear devices RDS - 6t ("pipe") and RDS - 6c ("puff"). First of all, they were going to create an RDS product - 6 with TNT equivalent of 1 million tons and with a weight of up to 5 tons. The first copy should have been prepared for the 1954 year. Khariton was appointed supervisor of the project, and Zeldovich and Tamm were appointed deputies. The government also organized the production of tritium, lithium deuteride, and the construction of a tritium production reactor.

The first test was planned to be held in June 1952 of the year, but failed. Therefore, the Soviet government postponed the production of the RDS-6 model and its testing for March 1953. However, the test took place in August 1953 at the Semipalatinsk test site. It became 4 in a series of Soviet nuclear tests that were launched in August 1949 (capacity was estimated at 400 thousand tons of TNT). The testing of the RDS – 6 model was an important event in the history of hydrogen weapons and the stages in the development of the USSR nuclear program. In the west, this product was named "Jo-4" - the first nuclear tests in the USSR received code names from the American nickname of Joseph (Joseph) Stalin "Uncle Joe". An important feature of the product was the fact that the RDS-6 charge was transportable (the hydrogen bomb was placed in a Tu-16 bomber), and it could be delivered to the territory of a potential enemy. In addition, the design of the charge was taken into account the possibility of its further mass production. Thus, the USSR created the world's first sample of real thermonuclear weapons. In the USSR, a scientific and technical reserve was created in the field of thermonuclear energy research. It was used to create a more sophisticated, two-stage hydrogen bomb design.

After this test, some time was spent on developing the idea of ​​Sakharov to create a new type of powerful hydrogen bomb - a stronger version of RDS – 6c, which was called RDS – 6cD. Only 19 July, 1955, the government postponed the RDS – 6cD creation program (it was never implemented).

Back in 1953, the original schemes of two-stage thermonuclear charges based on the use of the energy of a primary nuclear explosion were suggested by A.P. Zavenyagin and D.A. Frank Kamenetsky. As a result, the work on the "pipe" was actually completed and all efforts were switched to the development of a two-stage design. This decision was made at the end of 1953 of the year in KB-11, and at the beginning of 1954 of the year was approved at a meeting at the Ministry of Medium Machine Building.

24 December 1954 of the year at a meeting of the Scientific and Technical Council of KB-11, chaired by I. Kurchatov, it was decided to develop and prepare for conducting a ground test of an experimental thermonuclear charge to test the new principle (reducing the secondary node with primary atomic bomb radiation energy). Charge test has been assigned to 1955 year. An experienced charge on the new principle was named RDS – 37. In February, 1955 was completed on its calculation and theoretical justification. At the end of June 1955, the results of a theoretical calculation were reviewed by a commission headed by Tamm. She confirmed the feasibility of ground test RDS-37.

On November 6, 1955, the RDS-27 single-stage thermonuclear charge test (in the form of aviation bombs), it was a modification of the RDS-6s device. Its main difference was the absence of tritium in its design. On November 22, 1955, the RDS-37 two-stage thermonuclear charge with a capacity of 1,6 Mt was successfully tested (also in the form of an aerial bomb). The bomb was dropped at the Semipalatinsk test site from a Tu-16 bomber. In the design of RDS-37, tritium was also not used. Soviet scientists achieved amazing results and very short deadlines.


The result of the United States and Soviet races in the field of thermonuclear weapons was the fact that in 1955, the Union not only caught up with the United States in this area, but also became a leader in a number of moments. In particular, Soviet scientists were the first to use lithium-6 deuteride — a highly efficient thermonuclear fuel (in the 1953 year in a single-stage product, and in 1955 in a two-stage product). Even in the first tests, Soviet science was able to achieve higher indicators in the accuracy of the theoretical calculation of the expected power: in 1953, the power values ​​coincided with an accuracy of ~ 30%, in 1955 a year - with an accuracy of ~ 10%. American calculations in 1954 year differed twice or more. The superiority in the calculations made it possible in 1955 to deliberately reduce the power of the hydrogen bomb explosion by half. Ahead of Soviet American science and in the development of transportable bombs.

Subscribe to our Telegram channel, regularly additional information about the special operation in Ukraine, a large amount of information, videos, something that does not fall on the site:

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. Sakhalininsk
    Sakhalininsk 16 January 2013 09: 14
    We can say thanks to our physicists for our quiet childhood.
    1. Wankiller
      Wankiller 16 January 2013 18: 10
      Quote: Sakhalininets
      Thanks to our physicists for our quiet childhood.

      if only everyone understood so well ... after all, the fiction of nuclear weapons, then surely there would have been a 3rd World War ... of our USSR with these Yankee "popuas" ... and for a long time it will be a deterrent ...
      Of course I feel sorry for the lives of people who gave up the study of this weapon ... but it saved a lot of people, including the Yankees
  2. LaGlobal
    LaGlobal 16 January 2013 10: 23
    Good morning! And thanks to another American scientist who, in 1945-47 (I don’t remember the exact date), passed the same nuclear weapons developments to the Soviet Union. And it seems to me, thanks to this fact, WE began to sleep more or less calmly.
    PS if I'm wrong - please correct.
    1. erased
      erased 16 January 2013 10: 52
      I'm correcting. Not a scientist, but a group of American scientists working for Secular Intelligence. Beria L.P. personally supervised this business.
      1. Papakiko
        Papakiko 16 January 2013 18: 07
        If consciousness and sobriety in the minds of scientists will continue to win, we can count on a peaceful sky above our heads in the past.
        Thanks to everyone who forged the shield of the motherland in any form.
    2. atalef
      atalef 16 January 2013 14: 53
      Quote: LaGlobal
      And thanks to another American scientist who, in 1945-47 (I don’t remember the exact date), transferred the development of nuclear weapons to the Soviet Union. And it seems to me, thanks to this fact, WE began to sleep more or less calmly

      Julius Rosenberg (Eng. Julius Rosenberg; 12 May 1918 - 19 June 1953) and his wife Ethel (nee Greenglass, Eng. Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg; 28 September 1915 - 19 June 1953) - the American Communist Council accused of (primarily in the transfer of the USSR American nuclear secrets) and executed for it in 1953 year. Rosenbergs were the first civilians executed in the United States for espionage.
  3. erased
    erased 16 January 2013 10: 25
    Science in a strong state is capable of much! In the weak, it does not work at all. Or with big problems. What we see now.
    And then our scientists helped to defend the world and lead the USSR into leaders! Many thanks to them!
  4. JonnyT
    JonnyT 16 January 2013 12: 42
    Yes! Balance of power is a necessary condition for peace!

    Some Westerners consider Kurchatov to be almost the worst villain, and it was only thanks to him and other scientists that the USA did not start a nuclear war then - they were afraid of a symmetrical answer!
    1. Egoza
      Egoza 16 January 2013 13: 35
      Quote: JonnyT
      Some Westerners consider Kurchatov to be almost the worst villain,

      What do they say about the inventor of gunpowder? And about their scientists who created the bombs dropped in Japan? "Pot calls the kettle black...."
      1. JonnyT
        JonnyT 16 January 2013 16: 03
        Some of the American youth think that the USSR dropped bombs on Japan and Stalin was at the same time as Hitler ........... The West has double standards, all they do is destroy cities, rob countries, destroy the indigenous population their version for the good! It is useless to blame them for inhumanity ....
        1. Wankiller
          Wankiller 16 January 2013 18: 03
          Quote: JonnyT
          destroy cities, rob countries, destroy the indigenous population, all of this, for their benefit! It is useless to blame them for inhumanity ....
          there is no security, but in the name of democracy ... now their youth is picking up all the information from shooting toys ... they are just too lazy to read something, they are sure that the games are based on real events ....
      2. Wankiller
        Wankiller 16 January 2013 17: 59
        Quote: Egoza
        "Pot calls the kettle black...."

        I can fix it ... unless there are cows there ... only pork !!
  5. borisst64
    borisst64 16 January 2013 12: 56
    10 megatons-10 million tons-10 billion kg- 100 billion TNT drafts of 100 grams - go nuts !!!!
    1. desava
      desava 17 January 2013 08: 56
      Far from the limit - a 50 megaton bomb was built and tested. It was planned and 100 megatons, it’s good that they did not develop it and did not blow it up.