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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


The Soviet thermonuclear charge was initially created in a version suitable for practical use. In a two-stage RDS-6s bomb, for the first time in the world, dry thermonuclear fuel was used, which allowed to significantly reduce the dimensions and allowed long-term storage. The bomb RDS-6c was tested on August 12, 1953 at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. The explosion occurred at an altitude of 30 meters, on the site of a specially constructed tower. The power in the TNT equivalent was about 400 kt. Within a radius of 4 km, brick buildings were destroyed, and the span of the railway bridge weighing 100 tons, set 1 km from the point of the explosion, was dropped by almost 200 m. Due to the fact that the explosion was practically ground, part of the test range was heavily contaminated with radiation. Until now, the radiation background in this place is much higher than the norm.

Ground test of August 12, 1953, the fusion thermonuclear charge RDS-6s was made possible by the use of its creators, led by Andrei Sakharov, deuterium lithium-6 as a solid fuel for the reaction of synthesis of deuterium and tritium. Lithium-6, when bombarded with neutrons, forms the second component necessary for a thermonuclear reaction, tritium. At the same time, a certain amount of tritium was introduced into it to ensure the required power of the RDS-6s charge along with lithium deuteride. During tests of RDS-6s, the power of 400 kilotons of trotyl equivalent was recorded - 10 times greater than the ultimate power of the then Soviet nuclear munitions, based on the chain reaction of fission. The letter "c" in the abbreviation RDS-6s meant "flaky" - in the charge thermonuclear fuel alternated with uranium-238.

On February 26, 1950, the USSR Council of Ministers adopted Decree No. 827-808 "On the work on the creation of RDS-6," which obliged the First Main Directorate, Laboratory No. 2 of the USSR Academy of Sciences and KB-11 to carry out theoretical, experimental, and design work on the creation of the product RDS-6s (“Puff”) and RDS-6t (“Pipe”). First of all, the RDS-6s product with a TNT equivalent of 1 million tons and with a weight of up to 5 tons was to be created.

The development of thermonuclear explosive systems went a progressive way of using radiation implosion and the creation of binary systems. It is based on the remarkable fact that during an ordinary atomic explosion, 80% of the energy, at the beginning of its development, is released in the form of soft x-rays, and not in the form of fission fragments. This happens due to the very high density of energy release in the explosion zone and, accordingly, the complete ionization of the substance in the explosion zone. Naturally, X-rays are far ahead of expanding (at a speed of about 1000 km / s) fission products and plutonium residues. This allows the use of x-rays from a nuclear bomb to compress and set fire to a structurally located from it a thermonuclear fuel (LiD) tank, by compressing it with radiation, before an expanding primary nuclear explosion destroys this tank. A thermonuclear fuel tank is called the second stage and contains a nuclear charge initiated by radiation implosion of x-ray radiation. This charge serves to heat up and additionally compress thermonuclear fuel and initiate thermonuclear reactions.

The deadline for manufacturing the first copy of the RDS-6s product was 1954. Yu. B. Khariton was appointed scientific supervisor of the work on the creation of RDS-6s and RDS-6t products, and I.E. Tamm and Ya.B. Zeldovich. By a decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR of February 28, 1950, work on the hydrogen bomb was concentrated in KB-11. In accordance with this decision, the group of I.E. Tamm was sent in 1950 to a permanent job in Arzamas-16. On the same day, Decree of the USSR Council of Ministers No. 828-304 “On the organization of tritium production” was adopted. Soon, resolutions of the USSR Council of Ministers on the organization of the production of lithium-6 deuteride and the construction of a specialized tritium-producing reactor were adopted.

In addition to KB-11, leading scientific specialists from institutes of the USSR Academy of Sciences participated in RDS-6. As a result, under the scientific supervision of KB-11 for computational and experimental studies in support of the WB RDS-6C project there were the following implementing organizations: Physical Institute (LPI), Institute of Physical Problems (IFP), Institute of Chemical Physics (ICP), Laboratory No. 1, Laboratory No. 2, Laboratory “B”, Mathematical Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences with the Leningrad Branch, Institute of Geophysics of the USSR Academy of Sciences. NII-8, NII-9, LFTI, GSPI-11, GSPI-12, VIAM, NIIgrafit, as well as manufacturing enterprises: plant number 817, plant number 12, plant number took part in works on reactor engineering and technological aspects of the production of thermonuclear components 418, Plant No. 752, Verkhne-Salda Metallurgical Plant, Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant.

The administrative and scientific leadership of the Soviet Atomic Project energetically took up the organization of work on the creation of the first domestic WB RDS-6. The first representative meeting on RDS-6 was held on June 9, 1949, under the leadership of Vannikov and Kurchatov in KB-11 (Arzamas-16). In addition to the leading scientists of the Atomic Project, Sakharov was invited. The meeting participants developed the "RDS-6 Research Plan for 1949-1950." (In manuscript form, prepared, judging by the handwriting, by Sakharov), which includes the following areas of research: nuclear reactions of light nuclei in RDS-6; the possibility of initiating RDS-6 using an atomic bomb and conventional explosives; the use of an atomic bomb explosion to obtain information regarding the creation of a WB; gas dynamics of the process.

In Chelyabinsk-65, the production of tritium and other special isotopes was established. In 1951, the AI reactor was brought to its design capacity of 50 MW. A little later, tritium production was organized in heavy water reactors, the first of which was the OK-180 reactor. The accumulated tritium was separated from lithium targets in a vacuum furnace and purified by a chemical method.

Designed in 1950–1953 in KB-11, the RDS-6s thermonuclear charge, which was the first thermonuclear charge of the USSR, was a spherical system of uranium and thermonuclear fuel layers surrounded by a chemical explosive. To increase the energy release of charge, tritium was used in its design.

A huge effort involving a large number of people and high material costs required the production of substances included in the product, other production and technological work. A special role in the entire preparation for the tests of the first thermonuclear played theoretical groups. Their task was to select the main directions of product development, assessment and general theoretical work related to the explosion process, the selection of product options and the supervision of specific calculations of the explosion processes in various versions. These calculations were carried out by numerical methods, in those years - in special mathematical groups created at some research institutes. Theoretical groups also played an important role in determining tasks, analyzing results, discussing and coordinating almost all of the listed areas of work of other units of the facility and involved organizations. ” The general management of work on the RDS-6s was carried out by I.V. Kurchatov. The chief designer and direct supervisor of the work was Yu.B. Khariton.

By April 1953, all the elements of the RDS-6s thermonuclear charge had been worked out. The RDS-6s test at the Semipalatinsk test site was the fourth in a row; By the beginning of 1953, the United States had already conducted 34 nuclear tests. The Government of the USSR took extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of the population. 2250 people were evicted from the zone of possible radioactive contamination and 44068 livestock were removed.

Supervised the tests, as in previous years I.V. Kurchatov. The best scientists and specialists of our country were involved in the work at the training ground. At the Semipalatinsk test site, a pilot field was being prepared on a wide front — a site where various structures, structures, equipment and other objects were located to study various aspects of the effects of the explosion.

The signal to blow up the RDS-6s was given at 7.30 a.m. on August 12, 1953. The horizon was lit up by a bright flash that blinded his eyes even through dark glasses. Unusual phenomena accompanying the development of the explosion, many observers recorded very carefully, and then transferred their notes to I.V. Kurchatov.

“The phenomenon was observed on August 12 this year. from the airfield at point "M", 65 km from the site of the explosion. Exactly at 7 o’clock. 30 min. in the morning on the horizon in the direction of the "Field" a bright white blinding light flashed, which, despite the darkened glasses, made me close my eyes for a moment. The dazzling flash instantly turned into a huge raging mass of fire and every second increasing on the horizon. High above the horizon appeared a ball of red-orange color, which exploded, and in its place a dense white cloud, having the shape of a mushroom, which, however, remained at the top for a relatively long time (about 15-20 minutes), remained orange ...

Further, this cloud began to change its shape under the influence of the wind and disappeared behind the clouds at 12 o’clock in a south-westerly direction ... A fiery hemisphere surfaced, forming a luminous “mushroom” head on a thick dark leg. The mushroom head, expanding, rose smoothly, while the leg was thinned, especially in its upper part adjacent to the head; the head quickly went out and became dark ... The fast movement in the entire mass of the cloud was very striking ... A white cloud appeared on the top of the head, and a cloud began to form in the form of a cone expanding downwards from the top of the leg (dust pillar) adjacent to the head ) ... The overall impression of the explosion is very strong. Under combat conditions, the explosion will undoubtedly have a moral effect on people who will observe it from the side. I've seen a lot of explosions and explosions in my life but this explosion has nothing to do with them and cannot be compared with anything. Also unforgettable are my impressions of those destructions at considerable distances from the epicenter of the explosion, which I observed while going around the landfill after the event. ”

The successful test of RDS-6s on August 12, 1953 at the Semipalatinsk test site fully confirmed the physical and design principles of this type of hydrogen bomb, as well as the calculation method. The total TNT equivalent measured by various methods was 400 kt and, within the limits of measurement accuracy, coincided with the calculated power. “Summary report on testing the RDS-6s product” was written by Ya.B. Zeldovich and signed by I.V. Kurchatov, Yu.B. Khariton, Ya.B. Zeldovich, E.I. Zababakhin and V.S. Komelkov September 9, 1953.

RDS-6s was the first domestic hydrogen bomb that went into service for heavy (Turbo-prop Tupolev TU-95 designs by Vladimir Myasishev) and medium (jet Tu-16) bombers. Information in open sources about whether RDS-6 was adopted, could not be found, but it is known that mass-size models were dumped from bombers of long-range aviation during training flights. The dimensions of the thermonuclear bomb RDS-6s allowed it to be placed in the bomb bay of the Tu-16 bomber. In the improved version of the bomb instead of deuterium, deuteride of lithium-6 had to be used, which made it possible to increase its power to 1 Mt.

Work on RDS-6s was continued. On November 6, 1955, the RDS-27 charge was successfully tested in the USSR, which was a modernization of the RDS-6s based on the use of lithium deuteride exclusively (without the use of tritium). The energy release of the charge was 250 kt, which was 1.6 times less than the energy release of RDS-6s. In terms of its constructional qualities, it was a real weapon, and its test was carried out as part of an air bomb dropped from an airplane.

Other sources claim that neither RDS-37D nor even RDS-6S entered serial production. These were experimental products in which the idea was tested.

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Page last modified: 06-08-2019 18:41:17 ZULU