Total Pageviews

Thursday 16 February 2012

Typewriters report an A-Bomb Blast

They look as though they might have been enjoying a Sunday afternoon barbecue among work mates. Instead, these journalists have been invited to watch an A-bomb explode.
At 9.30am on April 22, 1952, US authorities allowed news reporters and television crews to witness and film an above-ground atmospheric test of an A-bomb.
The United Press reporters on the so-called “NewsNob”, nine miles south of ground zero, are, from left, Frank M. Bartholemew, Robert N. Bennyhoff, Joe Quinn and Hugh Baille.
In Operation Big Shot, the equivalent of 31 kilotons of TNT was exploded 3500 feet above the ground at the Nevada “Proving Ground” (test site) at Yucca Flat. It was the 15th atomic test in the US, the 26th nuclear explosion in history. The bomb was dropped from a B-50.
Mice, sheep, pigs and 1700 soldiers were among the animate objects which took part in the test. Ground troops, in deep drenches 7000 yards from ground zero, and airborne troops held military manoeuvres on a simulated nuclear battlefield. Trucks, tanks, aircraft and other pieces of military equipment and ordnance were placed at varying distances out from the detonation point to ascertain how well they would survive a nuclear attack. The test was also used to determine whether nuclear weapons could be employed to clear mines. The sound of the explosion was heard 42 seconds after detonation.
It was the first time the media had been allowed to cover such an event. Klaus Landsberg made an KTLA telecast which was fed to all three networks through a 140 mile link. An estimated 35 million viewers saw the telecast, but most “never at any time had a plausible image of whatever it was that the camera was aimed at.” Instead, they received “an ever-changing series of geometrical designs, alternating with something that looked like showers of confetti.” The New York Herald Tribune said the test produced an “odd result: a revolutionary method of mass communication had blurred, rather than clarified, the impression of a revolutionary weapon of warfare.”
Some of the media were given high-density goggles to view the burst, while others were told to turn away and shield their eyes.
Federal Civil Defence Administrator Millard Caldwell declared, “A bomb of this kilo-ton force would have claimed one-half million casualties in New York from blast, fire and radiation effects.”
From 1951 through 1958, the US conducted 120 tests at the Nevada Test Site. Such were the toys and joys of the Cold War ...

1 comment:

Dwayne F. said...

Richard: Thanks for the great post! For the record, the timing of my recent entry having to do with radiation and New York City was purely coincidental. But what a happy coincidence!