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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

RDS-41 ( item 11D )

RDS-41RDS-41 ( item 11D ) was a Soviet nuclear charge for artillery shells of extra - large caliber, developed in the mid- 1950s in KB-11 under the leadership of Academician M.A.Lavrent'ev. Charging tests took place on March 16 (according to other data on March 18) in 1956 at the Semipalatinsk test site, the charge was installed on the platform and was blown up by the radio signal from the command post of the test site. The energy release was 14 kilotons. The weight of the projectile is 570 kg. The first nuclear projectile "RDS-41 (11D)" tested in March 1956 had a caliber of 452 millimeters, but other sources report charge for a 406 mm caliber. The first nuclear torpedo T-5 with a caliber is 533 mm was tested on September 21, 1955 at the Novaya Zemlya test site. The power at the first test is 3.5 kilotons of TNT equivalent. It was in service since 1957.

The first half and middle of the 1950s were for KB-11 a period of unusually intensive work, a colossal strain of the forces of large teams, the solution in a short time of tasks of great importance. Among them, one should note the creation of an artillery shell with an atomic charge (1953-1956). This development was led by Academician M.A. Lavrentiev, invited to KB-11.

In 1952, there was a need to create a domestic artillery shell with a nuclear charge as a response to the emergence of American weapons of this type. They began to be developed by the United States in the early 1950s, in May 1953. were first tested and soon placed in Europe. The Soviet Union was forced to take adequate measures.

In KB-11, the development of the first versions of the charge for the artillery shell began. And on January 12, 1953, a letter was sent to the First Main Directorate of the KB-11, signed by its chief, A.S. Alexandrov, the scientific leader Yu.B. Khariton and his deputies K.I. Shchelkin and AA Ilyushin. In the letter, after describing the task and listing the complexities of its solution, it was said:

"A suitable candidate for the leadership of this work is Academician M.A. Lavrentyev, a prominent specialist in hydro and gas dynamics, an outstanding mathematician with a good command of modern computer hardware, the founder of the theory of cumulative projectiles and a well-known expert in the use of explosives. Please translate Comrade MA. Lavrentieva in KB-11 so that, that he lead the work on the investigation of compression by means of axisymmetric systems, first of all, with respect to artillery variants."

The above text is a quote from a letter of January 12, 1953, sent to NI Pavlov, the first deputy head of the PSU, the future Ministry of Medium Engineering. It talks about the research needed to create an artillery shell with an atomic charge. The letter was signed by the head of KB-11 AS Aleksandrov, the scientific head of the enterprise Yu. B. Khariton, his first deputy KI Shchelkin and one of the leading specialists AA Ilyushin. Mikhail Alekseevich Lavrentyev was not accidentally named the most suitable candidate for appointment as the head of responsible works for creating an artillery. By this time, as a researcher, he was well known to all leading scientists of the country, and the results of his research received world recognition.

The difficulties faced by the developers seemed insurmountable: the charge should have been much smaller than the products created before in the KB-11. The overloads that would have to be experienced in this charge (with the preservation of combat capability) were thousands of times higher than those typical for aerial bombs. There were many other problems that arose for the first time.

The use of imploding liners to achieve high energy densities from less extreme energy densities is well known. In the typical imploding liner compression system, a payload of relatively low energy density is confined in the bore of a cylindrical liner which is then caused to implode radially. During the implosion, the kinetic energy of the liner is converted by adiabatic compression to the internal energy of the confined payload which it surrounds.

Two-Point DetonationRegarding axisymmetric detonation, Academician D.V. Shirkov is quoted in an article that discusses the development of Russia’s first nuclear artillery projectile “Non-spherical symmetry required a more sophisticated design of the detonator system. Their asynchronous ignition circuit had to provide synchronous convergence of the non-symmetric shock wave towards the center of the construction. The same problem with an extra variable had to be resolved for hydrodynamic cogging and squeezing of the nuclear charge as well as for all the nuclear chain reaction calculations. Implosion resulted in the transformation of the originally hollow thin-walled shell of the active material together with the adjoining neutron-reflecting heavy 238U shell into a supercritical two-layer slightly elongated quasi-spherical body, into which neutrons from the primer were injected. This design, basic for a nuclear explosion, is axisymmetric and not spherically symmetrical.” [Shirkov, D.V. (2010). The TSAR projectile for nuclear artillery, Science, 2(26), 34-43]

Difficulties in controlling the liner dynamics derive largely from mechanical instabilities, such s Rayleigh-Taylor instability, that are associated with the motion of the liner. For example, a basic hydrodynamic instability occurs when the interface between two fluids of different mass density accelerates in the direction of the heavier fluid (Rayleigh-Taylor instability). Thus, when the liner accelerates inward, its rear surface can be disrupted; and when the inner surface is decelerated in compressing the low mass-density payload (plasma and/or magnetic field, for example) it also will be disrupted.

The new facility: NII-1011 in the Urals 159 will be very important for the successful development of new works, and in general for strengthening the scientific leadership in KB-11. The desire of the leadership of KB-11 was fulfilled, Academician Lavrentyev arrived at the facility and headed the specially created sector No. 11 connected to the solution of the problem. Shirkov from the group N.N. Bogolyubov, since 1950 worked in the KB-11, and BC Vladimirov, who arrived even earlier, as well as L.V. Ovsyannikov and BV Wojciechowski, who arrived with MA. Lavrentyev.

The problem of yield was dealt with by Corresponding Member L.A. Galin. The design team of sector 11 was headed by A.I. Abramov. His employees were mostly young people. The task before them was difficult, responsible and urgent.

The design of the first shock-resistant atomic charge for the artillery shell was significantly different from those previously developed. All its components had to withstand the overloads that occur when accelerating in the tube of the artillery gun. Essentially new scientific and design solutions were required. Their search was crowned with success.

By the end of 1954, the charge scheme was chosen, and the work entered the development phase of specific units. On the results of this work, VP Zhogin writes: "In the RDS-41 charge, all the nodes included in its composition are developed again and have original technical solutions ...".

One of the main reasons for this novelty was a severe necessity. It turned out to be impossible to apply the solutions developed earlier in the KB-11 for the creation of an artillery charge - because the requirements were imposed on the high strength of all its parts (after all, it was needed in artillery) and the dimensions determined by the same circumstance.

By the end of 1955 all theoretical and gas-dynamic studies were completed. A large volume of experiments was performed, in particular, verification of the structural strength. It should be noted that there was no testing base for such works, and various devices and devices suitable for their conduct were being created in the KB-11. So, for research on dynamic impacts, a special tower was designed and installed 15 meters high. From it dropped parts of the product, checked for durability. To study inertial effects of great duration, a disk centrifuge was designed. These works were supervised, on the instructions of Lavrent'ev, by the experimenter B.Vojtsehovsky. According to the experts of KB-11, who worked then close to him.

Then came the stage of testing. First, the samples and models of all the elements of the charge were fired from conventional guns at the Central Research Institute-58 range. Interestingly, the target was sheds filled with pakely, in order to preserve the models. Then the test tests were carried out in full scale with firing from field guns developed at that time in CRI-58 and TsKB-34. Shooting was conducted at the Rzhev artillery range. All these stages of testing were successful.

The main test was to test the charge of RDS-41 already with a nuclear "stuffing" at the Semipalatinsk test site. After careful preparation, which was conducted since January 1956, the decisive test was scheduled for the 18th March.

The polygon tests of the charge that received the RDS-41 index were successful in 1956. The explosion power exceeded the expected value. The charge passed a full cycle of gas-dynamic firing tests, and all the documentation for it was prepared for transfer to mass production. For this therew were developed special artillery guns "Condenser" and "Transformer."

Academician MALavrentiev did not participate in these tests. By that time he already worked in KB-11 only in combination - his immediate stay at the facility ended in May 1955 and for another year he was a consultant to the Ministry of Medium Machinery on the problem of RDS-41. There is a document that says that at the end of May 1955, a meeting was held at the CCU under the chairmanship of AP Zavenyagin (deputy minister) on the issue of RDS-41. Of course, there was a discussion, and, of course, its content can not yet be uncovered. Because all the development of nodes and parts of RDS-41 found a further life in the subsequent products of KB-11 and some of them continue to be used today. And the RDS-41 charge itself did not go into the series. Simply by this time it became clear that the main striking weapon in a very short time would be missiles.

By that time tactical gunpowder ballistic missiles with nuclear weapons " Filin" and "Mars" ( with approximately the same range flight). Therefore, the relevance of the nuclear arsenal decreased, and RDS-41 did not go into mass production. Many physical, gas-dynamic and design solutions of RDS-41 were used in the subsequent development of atomic charges of the second generation in the period 1958-1966 (this topic was developed in NII-1011).

Nevertheless, one and a half years after the testing of the artillery nuclear projectile at the Semipalatinsk test site, in November 1957, along the Red Square, guns developed for RDS-41 moved in the ranks of the traditional military parade. The foreign military attaches present at the parade were amazed that the Soviet Union already has artillery nuclear weapons.

And at the end of November, a letter was sent from KB-11 to the Lenin Prize Committee - the newly established new USSR award - with the signatures of the head of the KB-11, General B. G. Muzrukov, the scientific leader Yu.B. Khariton and the first secretary of the city committee of the CPSU A.Silkina. It stated that "... During five years (1952-1957), a group of KB-11 MSM workers under the leadership of Academician MA Lavrent'ev developed a sample of atomic charge for an artillery shell. The results of all the tests carried out showed that the development of an atomic charge for an artillery shell should be considered complete. The creation of the first atomic charge is a major achievement of domestic science and technology and gives grounds for asking for the award of the Lenin Prize. Lavrentiev Mikhail Alekseevich, Shirkov Dmitry Vasilievich, Ovsyannikov Lev Vasilievich, Nekrutkin Victor Mikhailovich, Abramov Alexander Ivanovich. "

This is a quote from the presentation for the awarding of the Lenin Prize, which then only appeared in the USSR, a group of developers led by Academician MA Lavrent'ev. Presentation on November 30, 1957 signed the head of the KB-11 BG Muzrukov, scientific leader Yu B. B. Khariton, first secretary of the CPSU AS Silkin.

The Lenin Prize for the development of RDS-41 was awarded to Academician MALavrentiev and his young colleagues in the spring of 1958. This was the first Lenin Prize at the Facility, but it also became the first such award in the Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Its creation began in 1957 near Novosibirsk - a grandiose work, a legendary page in the history of Russian science. And its organizer and inspirer was M.A.Lavrentiev.

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