American
Nuclear
Weapons
Part of the nuclear arms race
during the Cold War
Tests conducted between 1945 & 1962
Operation Teapot
Nevada Test Site

Teapot was authorized by President Eisenhower on 30 August 1954. This series of fourteen shots proof tested a broad variety of fission devices with low to moderate yields. As a group these devices combined several innovations–some previously tested, some introduced during this test series–to create a new pattern of fission device that would dominate the design of all later weapons. These devices used new compact, efficient, light spherical implosion systems; beryllium tampers; hollow cores; deuterium-tritium boosting; and the use of neutron pulse tubes as initiators to create light, compact, efficient, and reliable fission explosive systems.

These devices were tested for a broad variety of tactical weapon applications, including air defense (AD) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW). Several new primaries were tested for a new generation of lighter and more compact (Class "D") thermonuclear weapons to be fired in 1956 during Operation Redwing.

Weapons effects tests were scheduled to develop information on the use of nuclear explosives against aircraft, and to gain more information about cratering.

UCRL (University of California Radiation Laboratory, now the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory–LLNL) had its first successful test shots after two and a half years of trying. UCRL demonstrated linear implosion–a non-lensed implosion approach used in artillery shells and other applications where very small diameter systems are required.

Approximately 8000 DOD personnel participated in the Desert Rock VI exercise which was intended to familiarize troops with the capabilities of nuclear weapons, and the conditions of atomic combat. LANL test shots were named after flying insects, fruits, and vegetables. UCRL test shots were named after inventors and San Francisco streets. DOD shot names were abbreviations or abbreviation mnemonics.

This Convair RB-36D-5-CF, 49-2686, is similar in appearance to the B-36H used in Operation Teapot HA. (U.S. Air Force).
One of the 500 foot towers being used in the 1955 Continental Test Series.
Operation Teapot
1955
Notable tests from Operation Teapot

Information

Test: Wasp
Time: 20:00 18 February 1955 (GMT)
Location: Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 7
Test Type: Airdrop
Test Height: 762ft
Yield - Actual (Predicted): 1.2 kt

Comments:

This B-36 airdrop was a LASL air defense oriented weapons effects test, using the venerable Ranger Able uranium core in a new compact, light weight implosion system. The implosion system was a sphere 22 inches in diameter but only weighed 120 lb. It was dropped in a Mk-12 bomb case. This was the fifth time the Ranger Able core design had been used in a test. This test evaluated the effects of low altitude detonations. The total device weight was 1500 lb. Although the bomb was much heavier, the implosion system was the lightest nuclear explosive system fired up until this time (broken the following year during Operation Redwing).

Information

Test: Tesla
Time: 13:30 1 March 1955 (GMT)
Location: Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 9b
Test Type: Tower
Test Height: 300ft
Yield - Actual (Predicted): 7 kt

Comments:

This was a UCRL linear implosion device named Cleo I. This was also the first successful UCRL test. It used a ZIPPER external neutron initiator. Predicted yield was 3.5-7 kt. The explosive used was Cyclotol 75/25. The nuclear system was a small diameter system only 10 inches wide and 39.5 inches long and weighed 785 lb.

Information

Test: Turk
Time: 13:20 7 March 1955 (GMT)
Location: Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 2
Test Type: Tower
Test Height: 500ft
Yield - Actual (Predicted): 43 kt

Comments:

This was a UCRL test of a primary for the XW-27 Class "D" (light weight) thermonuclear weapon. The device, named LINDA, was a mockup of the XW-27 radiation case and was 30.5 inches by 61.3 inches and weighed 2325 lb. Expected yield was 45 kt.

Information

Test: Ess
Time: 20:30 23 March 1955 (GMT)
Location: Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 10
Test Type: Sub-surface
Test Height: -67ft
Yield - Actual (Predicted): 1.2 kt

Comments:

This LASL test was the sixth to use the Ranger Able U-235 core, this time in a Mk-6 HE assembly. Ess ("Effects Sub-Surface") was a test of atomic demolition munition (ADM) cratering. The 8000 lb bomb was placed in a shaft lined with corrugated steel,10 feet wide and 70 feet deep (so that the bomb center was at -67 feet), which was back-filled with sandbags and dirt prior to firing. The crater was 300 feet wide and 128 feet deep.

Information

Test: Wasp Prime
Time: 18:00 29 March 1955 (GMT)
Location: Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 7
Test Type: Airdrop
Test Height: 737ft
Yield - Actual (Predicted): 3.2 kt

Comments:

This was a repeat LASL test of the Wasp design, using a higher yield core for weapons development purposes, but otherwise identical. B-36 airdrop. The yield was about the same as predicted. As a minor footnote - this shot was fired 5 hours and 5 minutes after Apple-1, the first time in U.S. history that two nuclear explosions were set off in one day.

Information

Test: HA
Time: 18:00 6 April 1955 (GMT)
Location: Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 1
Test Type: Airdrop
Test Height: 36,620ft
Yield - Actual (Predicted): 3.2 kt

Comments:

This B-36H airdrop was a LASL high-altitude (= HA) test of an air-to-air missile warhead. Similar to the Wasp Prime device (17 inch spherical system weighing 125 lb) in a 1085 lb Mk-5 ballistic case. Due to the extreme high altitude of this test (for an air dropped device) it was parachute retarded to permit the release aircraft to escape to a safe distance, the only parachute weapon drop ever conducted at the NTS.

Information

Test: Post
Time: 12:30 9 April 1955 (GMT)
Location: Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 9c
Test Type: Tower
Test Height: 300ft
Yield - Actual (Predicted): 2 kt

Comments:

This was a test of Cleo II, the second UCRL linear implosion device. 34.2 inches long, weight 322 lb. Used Cyclotol 75/25 HE.

Information

Test: MET
Time: 19:15 15 April 1955 (GMT)
Location: Nevada Test Site (NTS)
Test Type: Tower
Test Height: 400ft
Yield - Actual (Predicted): 22 kt

Comments:

MET stands either for "Military Effects Test" or "Military Effects Tower" (according to Frank Shelton). This was a LASL test of a composite U-233/plutonium bomb core (the first test by the U.S. to use U-233) in a Mk 7 HE assembly. The 30 inch diameter spherical implosion system weighed 800 lb.The primary purpose was to evaluate the destructive effects of nuclear explosions for military purposes. For this reason, the DOD specified that a device must be used that had a yield calibrated to within +/- 10%, and the Buster Easy device design was selected (this test gave 31 kt and used a plutonium/U-235 core). LASL weapon designers however decided to conduct a weapon design experiment with this shot, and unbeknownst to the test effect personnel substituted the untried U-233 core. The predicted yield was 33 kt. The actual 22 kt was 33% below this, seriously compromising the data collected.

Information

Test: Zucchini
Time: 12:00 15 May 1955 (GMT)
Location: Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 7
Test Type: Tower
Test Height: 500ft
Yield - Actual (Predicted): 28 kt

Comments:

This device was another LASL test of a Class "D" thermonuclear bomb primary/secondary system. This was a light case design, presumably using an aluminum case lined with a x-ray opaque high atomic number material (like lead or uranium). The device was 40 inches in diameter, 80.5 inches long, and weighed 2925 lb. Predicted yield was 40 kt.

Operation Teapot

Country: United States
Test Site: Nevada Test Site
Test Type: Multiple
Period: 1955
Number of Tests: 14
Total Yield: 43 kilotonnes of TNT (180 TJ)

Comments:

Operation Teapot was a series of fourteen nuclear test explosions conducted at the Nevada Test Site in the first half of 1955. It was preceded by Operation Castle, and followed by Operation Wigwam. Wigwam was, administratively, a part of Teapot, but it is usually treated as a class of its own. The aims of the operation were to establish military tactics for ground forces on a nuclear battlefield and to improve the nuclear weapons used for strategic delivery.



Yield

3.2 kt
2 kt
7 kt
8 kt
1.2 kt
43 kt
4 kt
1.2 kt
14 kt
3.2 kt
2 kt
29 kt
22 kt
28 kt

43 kt
Words from The Guardian
Code by Luke Hoban