Today in 1954, for its ninth nuclear test, the USSR staged a live-fire nuclear wargame near Totskoye, ~600 mi. SE of Moscow. At 9:33am local time, a 40-kt A-bomb was detonated 1,150 ft. in the air between two groups of soldiers, some just 2 mi. from blast.
The roughly 45,000 soldiers were then ordered into mock battle under highly radioactive conditions for the remainder of the day. Most had no protective equipment and were not warned about the dangers. Some who were issued gas masks removed them in the oppressive 115F (46C) heat.
Exposures were reportedly ten times the maximum allowable level for US soldiers for a year. The 1,000,000 people who lived within 100 miles of the blast were given no warning at all. For more about this "monstrous" exercise, see: washingtonpost.com/archive/politi…
Here's some of the original Soviet footage of the September 14, 1954, Totskoye nuclear wargame that was originally made public in the early 1990s and included in the first clip I posted (Russian speakers are welcome to post translations of the narration):
A few screenshots from the video (with YouTube's auto translate feature on):
A few more screenshots from the video (with YouTube's auto translate feature on):
And here's a picture of the bomb that was dropped that day:
The United States conducted similar military exercises—involving people and many different kinds of animals—during the 1950s at the Nevada Proving Ground outside Las Vegas:

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More from @AtomicAnalyst

15 Sep
Tonight in 1980 at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota, the number five engine on the right wing of a B-52 on ground alert caught fire during a drill. The aircraft was loaded with 8 Short-Range Attack Missiles (armed with 170-200-kt W69 warheads) and 4 B28 bombs (70 kt to 1.45 Mt).
That night, a southeast wind gusted up to 35 mph. The B-52 pointed in that direction. That alone kept the flames away from the fuselage. Had the nose been facing west, the fire would have incinerated all six crew members as they evacuated and burned the weapons in the bomb bay.
The fire burned for three hours. It was only extinguished when a civilian base fire inspector boarded the B-52 and shut off the fuel. Had the nukes caught fire and their conventional high explosives detonated, a radioactive plume would have drifted over Grand Forks and beyond.
Read 12 tweets
7 Sep
LBJ’s controversial “Daisy” ad—implying his (unnamed) Republican opponent Sen. Barry Goldwater would start a nuclear war—first aired 56 years ago tonight on NBC. Although broadcast only once as a paid political advertisement, TV news programs frequently replayed and discussed it.
Media consultant and sound designer Tony Schwartz (no relation) created the concept for the advertisement, which was then cast and filmed by the Doyle Dane Bernbach advertising agency.
For more on the creation, production, broadcast, and impact of this unprecedented campaign advertisement, see
@CONELRAD6401240‘s excellent and exhaustive history: conelrad.com/daisy/index.php
Read 7 tweets
29 Aug
Today in 2007 at Minot AFB, North Dakota, munitions crews accidentally loaded a B-52H bomber with six Advanced Cruise Missiles, each armed with a live W80-1 nuclear warhead with a variable yield of 5-150 kilotons. The plane sat on the tarmac overnight without any special guards.
Early the next morning, before takeoff, the B-52's radar navigator closely inspected only the 6 missiles on the right-wing pylon, all of which properly carried dummy warheads. The pilot signed the manifest listing 12 unarmed ACMs as cargo without conducting a final verification.
This was supposed to be a routine fight supporting the USAF's March 2007 decision to retire the ACM by ferrying the missiles stored at Minot to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, for disposal (by August 2007, more than 200 unarmed ACMs had been safely transported to Barksdale). It wasn't.
Read 6 tweets
21 Aug
75 years ago tonight at Los Alamos, 24-year-old graduate student and Manhattan Project physicist Harry Daghlian, Jr., was conducting a risky criticality experiment alone when he accidentally dropped a 4.4 kg (9.7 lb) tungsten carbide brick on a 6.2 kg (13.7 lb) plutonium core.
The brick increased neutron reflectivity back into the core, instantly causing it to go supercritical and flood the wooden shack with radiation. Although Daghlian quickly pushed the extra brick off the core with his right hand, he still received an estimated dose of 510 rem.
Daghlian was taken to the Los Alamos hospital and his symptoms were treated. As he slowly and painfully succumbed to acute radiation poisoning, he methodically described his condition to observing doctors. He died 25 days later, the Manhattan Project's first radiation fatality.
Read 7 tweets
17 Aug
A must-see report by Ted Koppel for @CBSSunday. Presidential Emergency Action Documents originated in the 1950s as a way to prepare for the aftermath of a nuclear war. They allow the president to effectively suspend the Constitution. They're being revised. cbsnews.com/news/rewriting…
As former Senator Gary Hart says of documents Congress has never seen, "This is a blueprint for dictatorship. ... Keep in mind, the current, incumbent president has declared seven national emergencies [and] stated repeatedly that he has more power than most people know about."
From 1982-84, Oliver North helped FEMA write a secret crisis contingency plan that called for suspending the Constitution, declaring martial law, putting FEMA in charge of the United States, and appointing military commanders to run state and local govt's. ratical.org/ratville/JFK/R…
Read 4 tweets
5 Aug
At this instant 75 years ago (8:15am August 6, local time), Little Boy—a 15-kiloton atomic bomb—destroyed Hiroshima, killing (per US military estimates) ~70,000 men, women, and children, including 12 American POWs. Later independent estimates argued ~140,000 people were killed.
At the time, there were 76,000 buildings in Hiroshima; 70,000 (92 percent) were damaged or destroyed, 48,000 (63 percent) completely. As a Japanese assessment later reported, "It is no exaggeration to say that the whole city was ruined instantaneously.”
18 emergency hospitals and 32 medical clinics were destroyed and 90 percent of all medical personnel were killed or severely wounded. Below, view panoramic photographs of the destruction along with "before and after" images of key locations in Hiroshima: abc.net.au/news/2015-08-0…
Read 7 tweets

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