History

Russia Releases Classified Footage of ‘Tsar Bomba’, The World’s Largest Nuclear Explosion

It was the most powerful nuclear bomb ever built and tested.

  • Russia marks the 75th anniversary of their atomic industry by releasing the previously classified footage of Tsar Bomba’s detonation in 1961.
  • Tsar Bomba—‘King of Bombs’ was the largest thermonuclear weapon of all time, with an explosive yield of 50 megatons.
  • They claimed it was 3,300 times as destructive as the nuclear bomb used in Hiroshima.

On October 1961, a modified Tu-95N ‘Bear’ bomber piloted by Major Andrei E. Durnovtsev, dropped the 27-ton, 26-foot-long Tsar Bomba over the remote Novaya Zemlya archipelago above the arctic circle.

He released the bomb at 10,500 meters and the parachute made it slowly descend to 4,000 meters in 188 seconds before it exploded.

Photo: Nuclear Weapon Archive
The shockwave from the airburst was so powerful that the bomber tumbled 3,000 feet.
Photo: Nuclear Weapon Archive
Despite the cloudy skies, people saw the bright flash of light at 1,000 kilometers. The mushroom cloud reached 210,000 feet high.

A powerful white flash over the horizon and after a long period of time he heard a remote, indistinct and heavy blow, as if the earth has been killed!said an observer from afar.

According to Popular Mechanics, an observer 168 miles away felt the heat of the explosion. Also, the nuke was capable of causing third-degree burns at 62 miles.
Photo: Courtesy Ministry of medium machine building of USSR/Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom/Handout via Reuters
Tsar Bomba or RDS-220 (Big Ivan) was the world’s largest nuclear weapon ever built or detonated.
Photo: Nuclear Weapon Archive
It was purportedly 3,300 times as destructive as Little Boy, the bomb that levelled Hiroshima. Moreover, it surpassed ‘Castle Bravo’, the nuke detonated by the US on Bikini Atoll in 1954, Reuters reported.
Photo: Nuclear Weapon Archive

RDS-220 or Big Ivan, was remarkably developed in a short time. On July 1961, Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev with then senior weapons designer Andrei Sakharov, ordered him to develop a 100-megaton bomb. However, the team was only able to build a device that could yield 50 megatons in the end.

He wanted the nuke to be ready for a series of tests in September. The goal was to ‘create maximum political impact’ from the tests according to The Nuclear Weapon Archive. The Soviet Union and the United States were engaged in a nuclear arms race.

The nickname Tsar Bomba is a reference to a popular Russian tradition for creating huge artifacts for show.
Photo: Nuclear Weapon Archive

Soviet Union was only able to test the Tsar Bomba once because The Nuclear Ban Treaty took effect in 1963, consequently banning atmospheric nuclear explosions.

To mark the 75th anniversary of Russia’s atomic industry, they released this once classified footage of the Tsar Bomba explosion.

Watch the video:

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