The images of nuclear weapon explosions are both impressive and horrifying. The mushroom-shaped clouds of the atomic bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain etched in our memory. In the years following World War II, both the United States and the former Soviet Union developed much more powerful atomic weapons. The bomb that fell on Hiroshima (also known as “Little Boy”) was 4 kilotons, and “Fat Man” that fell on Nagasaki was 18 kilotons. After the war, however, bombs with megatons were tested! Below is a list of the 10 largest nuclear explosions that have occurred in recent decades. These explosions were meant to test nuclear bombs. Let’s hope that these weapons will never be used in an actual war.

10. The Trinity Explosion


On July 16, 1945, the Americans tested the first atomic bomb. The test was codenamed ‘Trinity’ and took place in the desert of New Mexico. The explosion developed an energetic force of 20 kilotons, equivalent to the energy released by the explosion of 20,000 tons of TNT. The atomic bomb that the Americans dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki in August 1945 had approximately the same power.

9. The Soviet Tests 158 and 168 on Novaya Zemlya

The former Soviet Union did not want to lag behind the Americans and began developing nuclear bombs at a rapid pace after World War II. In 1962, the Russians conducted a whole series of tests, including tests 158 and 168. Both test explosions took place on Novaya Zemlya. The energy of both nuclear explosions reached 10 megatons. Such explosions are powerful enough to completely destroy an area of 4.6 square kilometers. There are no photos or films of this explosion.

8. Ivy Mike, the First Hydrogen Bomb

The first hydrogen bomb (an atomic bomb that derives the vast majority of its explosive energy from the nuclear fusion of hydrogen atoms into helium) that the Americans detonated was nicknamed Ivy Mike. The bomb was detonated on November 1, 1952, on Elugelab Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. The explosion completely destroyed the atoll. What remained was a crater with a depth of 50 meters and a diameter of 1.9 kilometers. The mushroom cloud reached a height of 33 kilometers. The explosion released an energy of 10.4 megatons. The radioactive fallout after the explosion was enormous. None of the vegetation on the neighboring islands survived.

7. Castle Romeo

Castle Romeo was the codename for one of the tests conducted near Bikini Atoll in 1954. The explosion took place on the water. The bomb was on a barge, which lay in the water above a crater formed by an earlier nuclear test explosion. This test with an 11-megaton bomb was the third-largest ever conducted by the United States.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFkpGvsyF9o

6. Soviet Test 123

The Soviets conducted their nuclear test explosion 123 in 1961. Strangely enough, the tested atomic bomb had more power than the atomic bombs that would be tested a year later (test explosions 158 and 168 conducted in 1962, 10 megatons). The bomb from test 123 developed a force of 12.5 megatons. Why the Soviet Union reduced the energetic power of their atomic bombs in later tests remains a mystery.

5. Castle Yankee

This test explosion was also part of the test series that the United States conducted in 1954 near Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Castle Yankee reached an energetic force of 13.5 megatons. The mushroom cloud rose to a height of 56 kilometers in the atmosphere and expanded to a diameter of 160 kilometers. The wind blew the radioactive fallout to above Mexico City, more than 11,000 kilometers away.

4. Castle Bravo

On March 1, 1954, the most powerful test explosion ever conducted by the United States took place. Near Bikini Atoll, the Americans detonated a thermonuclear hydrogen bomb with a force of 15 megatons. Within one second of the explosion, a gigantic fireball with a diameter of 7 kilometers was visible. A crater with a depth of 75 meters and a diameter of two kilometers remained after the explosion. The 40-kilometer-high mushroom cloud reached a diameter of 100 kilometers within ten minutes. The test explosion caused enormous radioactive contamination. An area of more than 7,000 square kilometers in the Pacific Ocean was affected by the radioactive fallout, causing severe health problems for the islanders in the vicinity. Protests against test explosions began to rise more and more.

3. Soviet Tests 173, 174, and 147

Despite the protests against testing atomic weapons, the Soviets continued undisturbed. In 1962, they conducted tests 173, 174, and 147, each with atomic bombs of 20 megatons. All the explosions took place on Novaya Zemlya.

2. Soviet Test 219

On December 24, 1962, the Russians detonated an atomic bomb of 24.2 megatons on Novaya Zemlya. It was the second most powerful bomb ever tested by the Soviet Union. Such a nuclear weapon would cause third-degree burns within a radius of 43 kilometers. As usual in the Soviet era, the West was not shown any photos of the explosion.

1. The Most Powerful Explosion Ever: Tsar Bomba

Gather all the explosives from World War II, detonate them together, and multiply the power of the explosion by ten. That was the energetic power of Tsar Bomba, a hydrogen bomb with an energy value of no less than 50 megatons. On October 30, 1961, the Soviets loaded Tsar Bomba into a Tupolev bomber and detonated the bomb at an altitude of 3,000 meters. The explosion was visible as far away as Finland, where windows shattered due to the shockwave. The mushroom cloud shot 64 kilometers into the atmosphere. Even at a distance of 100 kilometers, the heat from the explosion could still cause third-degree burns.

Menno, from the Netherlands, is an expert in unearthing fascinating facts and unraveling knowledge. At Top10HQ, he delves into the depths of various subjects, from science to history, bringing readers well-researched and intriguing insights.

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