Most Incredible Nuclear Tests | Check This Out Before Watching Oppenheimer

These tests show the most terrifying side of war.

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most incredible nuclear tests
Image: Illustration by author

In recorded history, there hasn’t been anything nearly as destructive as a nuclear weapon. Basically, its potential for wreaking havoc is akin to something picked right out of legends. For the same reason, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb”, described witnessing the first-ever nuclear weapon test in a mythological context. Quoting the Bhagavad-Gita, he said, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

The inaugural nuclear test took place in New Mexico, U. S., on July 16, 1945. Eventually, many more nations, such as India, Russia, and China, developed their own nuclear arms. To give you a glimpse of the devastating power of nuclear weapons, here’s a video that shows a compilation of the most incredible nuclear tests ever.

Most incredible nuclear tests and their significance

Below, we take a look at the finer details of these nuclear tests. Additionally, we underline the significance of these weapons and mention the highlights of their respective demonstrations. But, before you dive in, it is important to understand the term “yield” first. For starters, it is basically the amount of energy produced by a nuke once it detonates. Moreover, this energy is measured in units such as kt (kiloton) and Mt (megaton).

1. Mark 7 underwater test aka the Wahoo Test

mark 7 nuclear weapon
Image: atomicarchive.com

Date: May 16, 1958
Location: Pokon (Irvin), Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands
Test by: U. S.
Yield: 9kt

The Wahoo Test, as part of Operation Hardtack I, tested the underwater effectiveness of Mark 7 “Thor” (Mk-7). To be more precise, the test involved detonating the nuke at a depth of 980m or 3,200 feet. The Mk-7 itself holds an important position in the history of U. S. military as it was the first tactical fission bomb built for the country’s armed forces.

2. The atomic cannon test aka Upshot-Knothole Grable Test

upshot knothole grable nuclear artillery test
Image: Wikipedia

Date: May 25, 1953
Location: Nevada Test Site, Nevada, U. S.
Test by: U. S.
Yield: 15kt

This demonstration was the first time the U. S. military tested a nuclear artillery shell fired from a 280mm Artillery Fired Atomic Projectile. It is also the only instance when a gun-type nuclear weapon was actually fired as part of the country’s nuclear weapons test program. Interestingly, the word “Grable” in its name has a phonetic significance as it matches the “g”-sound produced when saying “gun.”

3. Operation Buster-Jangle nuclear tests

Buster-Jangle Easy
Image: Wikipedia

Date: Through 1951
Location: Nevada Test Site, Nevada, U. S.
Test by: U. S.
Yield: 31kt (maximum)

This series of nuclear tests comprised 6 atmospheric tests and 1 cratering test. Notably, it was the first joint effort of the U. S. Department Of Defense (DOD) and Los Alamos National Laboratory. The former worked on Operation Buster, while the latter was responsible for Operation Jangle.

The Buster-Jangle test involved various Mark nuclear bombs, including Mk-6 “Petite Plutonium,” Mk-6 “Johnny,” and Mk-6 “Frankie.”

4. Castle Bravo nuclear test

castle bravo
Image: Wikipedia

Date: March 1, 1954
Location: Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
Test by: U. S.
Yield: 15Mt

This test was the first in a series of tests conducted under Operation Castle. Unfortunately, it was also a major thermonuclear incident that drew global backlash due to its miscalculated execution.

After the explosion yield exceeded the predicted 6Mt range, it polluted nearby populated areas with radioactive elements. Moreover, traces of aerial contamination reached as far as U. S., India, and Australia.

5. Tsar Bomba

Tsar Bomba
Image: Wikipedia

Date: October 30, 1961
Location: Severny Island, Russia
Test by: U. S. S. R.
Yield: 50Mt

The biggest nuclear test explosion in history took place with the detonation of the Tsar Bomba. It detonated about 4,000m or 13,000 feet above the ground. Although it was a “secret test,” the explosion was so strong that the event was clearly visible from miles away.

However, the test only featured a dialed-down version of this Soviet-era nuke. Rather terrifyingly, Tsar Bomba’s uranium-equipped form can theoretically reach a yield of up to 100Mt.

So, that wraps up our list of some of the most incredible nuclear weapon tests in history. Besides this, you may check out our articles on the most spectacular rocket failures and the most extreme watercraft machines.

Priye Rai

Priye Rai

Priye is a tech writer at Fossbytes, who writes about gaming and anything remotely related to tech, including smartphones, apps, OTT, etc. He prefers to be called a "video game journalist" and grimaces when he doesn't get to be "Player 1." If you want to talk about games or send any feedback, drop him a mail at [email protected]

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