It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
It seems inconceivable now, but there was a time when hydrogen bombs were routinely tested right out in the open — monstrously menacing mushroom clouds, radioactive shroud and all. After a while tests were driven underground and, under a series of treaties which began in 1963, testing was banned almost entirely.
But in 1946, when U.S. nuclear bomb testing began in what was called Operation Crossroads in this remote Pacific location, memories were still fresh of the atomic bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which effectively ended World War II. The end of the war also ended the convenient alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union, the world’s only superpowers, whose faceoff in the Cold War would define geopolitics for the next half century.
The peace was kept largely by the unthinkable prospect of global thermonuclear war. The visceral fear everyone should have of these apocalyptic weapons was flamed by public tests which left no doubt that a nation who had them possessed unspeakable power. And, indeed, no H-bomb has ever been launched in anger. So in a tense world which was toying with technology designed to destroy the world, testing nukes was in part about advancing an agenda of peace. Transparency let the world (read: Soviet Union) see just what they were up against, serving as sufficient reminders of mutual assured destruction, or MAD.
The U.S. test on this day (west of the international date line; it was still May 20 in North America) in 1956 was not the biggest payload ever dumped on Bikini, but it was arguably the biggest deal. If you couldn’t deliver an H-bomb with your long-range bombers, then possessing one wasn’t really much of a threat at all. Showboating aside, there was always an (ostensibly) solid scientific reason for testing. One of the ironies of this test was that human error pretty much scuttled the science, which an account on nuclearweaponarchive.org says was to “gather weapon-effects data for high-yield air bursts.” That was not meant to be.
“The B-52 was flown from Fred Island at Eniwetak. The intended ground zero was directly over Namu Island, but the flight crew mistook an observation facility on a different island for its targeting beacon, with the result that the weapon delivery was grossly in error,” nuclearweaponarchive.org says. “The bomb detonated some 4 miles off target over the ocean northeast of Namu. As a result essentially all of the weapons-effects data was lost.” Testing on the island group ended in 1958, but not before three of them were completely obliterated. “As soon as the war ended, we located the one spot on Earth that hadn’t been touched by the war and blew it to hell,” comedian Bob Hope joked at the time.
The ultimate irony is that tactical nuclear devices — and dirty bombs — can now be hand-carried by a single, determined, suicidal partisan. This poses perhaps an even greater threat than that posed by two superpowers who have had the means to destroy the Earth hundreds of times over for decades, but the apparent wisdom to avoid the temptation.
Originally posted by anon72
reply to post by MysterE
What? No way. Please try to find that, or where you saw it.
Crazy. I did see some pics of troops looking at it-it seemed prett close-I thought it was photoshopped etc.
I promised myself a good looking into all of this project over the weekend. I find it fascinating how we did open testing