Friday, February 28, 2014

60th Anniversary: Fifth Lucky Dragon

The first four? Much luckier. These guys had no luck at all when this went off:

Castle Bravo, at 15 megatons, was a runaway like all the early fission-fusion-fission devices that weren't duds. The first "dry" thermonuclear device tested, its yield was three times greater than projected. Detonated Feb. 28, 1954 (March 1, local) from an artificial island off Bikini Atoll, Bravo remains the largest US nuclear explosion.

The cloud top rose and peaked at 130,000 feet (almost 40 km) after only 6 minutes. Eight minutes after the test the cloud had reached its full dimensions with a diameter of 100 km, a stem 7 km thick, and a cloud bottom rising above 55,000 feet (16.5 km.).

The crew of the fishing trawler Fifth Lucky Dragon didn't know about the Bravo shot and sailed blithely into the supposedly quarantined area. Bravo's size and a shift in the prevailing wind left the crew and their catch severely irradiated, one crewman died. Their saga inspired this classic of Japanese cinema. US personnel at a weather station 133 miles away were also heavily dosed before being evacuated the next day.
Undeterred, the US detonated Castle Romeo 25 days later, and it too promptly ran away--this time to 11 Megatons, again, triple the estimate...

Castle Yankee, which at 13.5 megatons was the 2nd largest US blast, was detonated two months after Bravo:

That "tritium bonus," it'll get you. Then again, thanks to Obama's EPA, maybe not.


Anonymous said...


Soylent Sage said...

Yeah, but that anniversary is a few years off. I was actually alive for that one.
Yep, Tsar Bomba was a scaled down version of a 100 megaton design. The only limit on thermonuclear yield is the amount of fuel you have to burn, and of course, its weight.

Flaxen Saxon said...

Sheesh, atomic weapons are for amateurs and so last century. Nerve gas is better. Silent and very effective. Not as poisonous as ricin, I might add. One molecule kills one cell.How's that for efficiency and lack of waste. Our green cousins should be told. Perhaps they could incorporate it into a vegy bugger or somethink?

Leonard Jones said...

I love these things! We used a few low kiloton devices to turn the
Japanese into a bunch of wimpering pussies!

We used these big-ass ones to keep America from becoming a province
of the Soviet Union. It kept me from having to learn Russian.

Good thing too, I had a hard enough time learning English!

Mike aka Proof said...

60 years? It seems like only yesterday we were practicing 'duck and cover' and planning where in the backyard to dig the fallout shelter!

ooGcM taobmaetS said...

Yep - I remember practicing the ol' Duck & Cover when I was just a little tyke. I also remember this:

LC Aggie Sith said...

Sixty years and all we have is Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan to show for our might?


Soylent Sage said...

Nice one, McGoo.
I was expecting "Who's Next."

Leonard Jones said...

Two more from Professor Tom Lehrer on the subject of nuclear war;

So Long Mom:

Who's Next: