Nuclear testing photos

From BoingBoing I found this cool pointer to the DOE Photo Library of atmospheric nuclear tests. I find these pictures utterly mesmerizing. I am can’t stop wondering about what it must have been like to witness some of these big boys. The atmospheric H-bomb shots in the Pacific are the creepiest of all. Consider
Castle Bravo, a dry lithium that obliterated Bikini atoll in 1954. It was fully two and a half times more powerful than expected, tipping the scales at 15 megatons. Imagine the consequences of a miscalculation like that… Witnesses on nearby naval vessels said the heat was terrifying in its intensity and persistence. “The cloud top rose and peaked at 130,000 feet (almost 40 km) after only six minutes. Eight minutes after the test the cloud had reached its full dimensions with a diameter of 100 km, a stem 7 km thick, and a cloud bottom rising above 55,000 feet (16.5 km).” Castle Bravo was the largest bomb ever exploded by the United States.

But was it the largest ever? No. That distinction goes to the “Tsar Bomba” (“King of Bombs”) which the Soviet Union exploded over Novaya Zemlya in 1961 for a yield of 50 megatons. Khruschev got the weapon he wanted, but as the FAS site says, “a bomb this size is virtually useless militarily.” Still. Ka-BOOM!

44 thoughts on “Nuclear testing photos”

  1. Right you are… that’s Castle Romeo. I also notice that the site I linked to before (, the Federation of American Scientists) doesn’t host the nuke pictures anymore. Now you need to go to Find the Castle test story here: Interestingly, one of the more regular sources of links for my site is people searching for pictures of the Tsar Bomba. Sorry, I still don’t have a picture, but I’ll draw you a little prose picture of it… it is HUGE.

  2. hello
    Could u please email THE PICTURE of the Tsar Bomba, not of an explosition, but the pic on the nuclear weapons archive site, where 2 scientists are standing next to it.
    I cant see to access it, could u please email me jut THE PICTURE, NOT the link.

  3. I am also interested in seeing or obtaining a photograph of the Tsar Bomba explosion. Interestingly, there seems to be a film of the explosion as it has been shown on T.V., most recently Ch 5 Monday 12/1/04. A most spectacular result but it was black & white.

    Anyone know where to get hold of a photo?

  4. If you can get a copy of the DVD “The Atomic Bomb Movie: Trinity and Beyond” it has color footage of the tsar bomba test, including footage of the Tu-95 dropping the bomb and of the explosion.

  5. I dont think there is a pic of the Mini Czar Bomb 58Mt explosion that is any good quality. The Russians only had black and white video of the detonation. Ive only SEEN the pictures of the 58Mt bomb before it exploded and the 100Mt version that still exists in Russia. The two bombs are pretty different in appearence, the smaller one is rounder, the big one looks like the tank of a cement truck. If you can attain a colore photo of the 58Mt detonation PLEASE let me know, thanks

  6. I have “Trinity and Beyond” on DVD, but the best video of Tsar Bomba is in the “Secrets of War” series, the “Bio & Nuclear Warfare (1998)” episode. The series was narrated by Charlton Heston. I once caught it on TV and saw the mushroom stem from several hundred miles away.

    The same episode also desribes the Kremlin’s proposal for a gigantic doomsday ship that would essentially be a floating nuclear bomb big enough to destroy the entire world (honestly – they actually designed this thing. Apparently the entire ship’s hull was to be made of fissionable material or something).

    You buy the DVD on Amazon, but it won’t work In Australia where I live, so if anyone buys it could you please lift some good images/video and post them.

  7. I’m glad to see others are interested in the King of Bombs. It’s not like it’s bigfoot or something – It’s the biggest thing humans have ever done and I’d like to see a picture of it.

    I suspect that the tzarbo2 image on is actually Ivy Mike. Maybe someone reading this can offer more analysis.
    The Tsar Bomba footage on the Trinity and Beyond DVD is just a flash of light, no mushroom cloud.

  8. I own “Trinity and Beyond.” I too was hoping to see the full footage of the largest man-made explosion in human history and was somewhat disappointed. The footage only showed the moment of detonation and initial formation of the fireball for a few seconds before it cut to Adlai Stevenson giving his speech to the U.N. (What a gip!) If even that much footage is shown, than there HAS to be a full version of the explosion and pics of the actual mushroom SOMEWHERE. I’m assuming that the Tsar Bomb footage is extremely rare. I’m thinking (though I could be wrong on this) that the present Russian government still posseses and controls the actual film itself. I’m also thinking that the Russians only allowed Peter Kuran (the man who made Trinity and Beyond) to utilize only a brief portion of the blast footage since the rest of the footage that would show the actual fireball and mushroom cloud configuration is still classified by the Russian government. Also notice that there is no footage whatsoever of ground zero or the aftermath of the Tsar bomb blast.

    As far as the pic… I’m not too sure of that either. It does resemble the “Mike” mushroom cloud very closely. From what I’ve read on the Tsar Bomb explosion, the actual cloud created by the blast was MUCH more massive than Mike (something like 5 times the size of Mike), in fact the maximum height of the Tsar cloud was something like 210,000 feet!!! Twice the max height of the Mike cloud!

    Either way, it’s my hope that the actual footage and pictures of the Tsar bomb test will eventually be available for the sake of historical purposes. Hopefully, someone somewhere will find what us nuke freaks are looking for and post it for us.

  9. I’d love to see -at least- a good -and genuine-photo of Tsar Bomba…and I think the one in z pic looks like Ivy/Mike’s detonation…
    any video of Tsar Bomba recently guys? I saw one in a Documentary on discovery channel or… may be National Geographic…I don’t remember exactly…Anyone knows about it?

  10. That picture might not be Ivy Mike, all clouds look that shape when they go that high, plus that archaic camera flash wouldnt have been used by the US. I dunno, just a theory.

  11. the x-vis website is the Tsar Bomba picture. It’s not Mike, there are plenty of Mike pictures and they look nothing alike

  12. Nice, Yeah its definitely alot bigger, and its stem base isnt so wide. Can ANYONE can find me a video or clip of the czar bomb explosion?????? Any help finding the video(s) of the 50Mt blast would be MUCH appreciated, if any of you need help finding something, I can also help, just say what u need.

  13. I read about the czar-bomb a while ago and i had been trying to find pictuers and videos of it, you guys helped me find some pictures of it but i still havent seen any videos, so if any of you know where i can find some, even if i have to pay for them please let me know. (

  14. That one tzar picture in zvis is actualy the tzar bomb as seen on a mass destruction weapons program that apeard on the history chanel, the video inclouded some never before seen footage of the tzar test however it was the same video that everyone has seen exept a litle longer the video also spoke about the vx gas and the gatling gun and as it progresed explained about other bullshit weapons that no body realy cared.
    For the record the oder footage that people claim to have seen in the history chanel was not on a sectrets of war episode, it is actualy called sworn to secracy, and I am convinced that the russians video taped the crap out of that test scince the bomb’s purpose was to intimidate the world and proof that the weapon was consived is necesary in duing so.

  15. Hey all, I have an unidentified mushroom cloud photo that I haven’t seen before. I was wondering if anyone could identify it for me. It might even be a pic of “tsar bomba” I know its kinda small but you can see it best if you set it as your desktop and view it that way. Whatever it was it was big. The image quality isn’t great but it should be identifiable. Here it is

    Please tell me if you know, thanks!!! ( :)

  16. The explosion looks like one that was done by the French on the island of Mururoa.

  17. There are no pictures available of the “tsar bomba”. Even “Trinity & Beyond” does not have real footage of the explosion, only a still picture with a superimposed bright light faded in.
    Bearing in mind that the yeild of this bomb was 57 megatons, and the fact that it was dropped by a plane, I doubt the plane actually survived the blast. Personally my favourite clip of h-bomb testing is the 3 “castle” tests done by the states.

  18. The plane that dropped the Tsar Bomba did survive. I believe that is was behind a mountain or hill and so was protected from the blast. (I don’t know for sure, but the “safe zone” that it was in was 45km away, well within the area it affected.)

    A color picture of the Tsar Bomba explosion can be found on Wikipedia:

  19. I have footage of the Tsar Bomba, taken from the discovery channel program “Ultimates : Explosions” showing release, detonation, mushroom cloud and destruction of the tsar Bomb. Sorry for the dutch subtitles…(oh and the horrible commentary by Tiff Needel…) I upped it to rapidshare, here’s the adress:

  20. I’ve also seen the tsar bomba from the discovery channel program “Ultimates : Explosions” also… i’m also craving for the video of the explosion… the program, said that 6 television chanels were broadcasting the detonation of the tsar bomb…i’m curious as too, why is it so hard to obtaine the video..

  21. I wouldnt be suprised why you couldnt find a video is because the aircraft which was Suppose to take the video was distroyed due to the shock wave. when the first bomb was droped on Hiroshima the american pilots in the bomber recived very violent vibrations from +10kms away and it said on the website above that the tu-95 bear was 45kms away and the bomb had over 3000 times the yield of the abomb droped on Hiroshima. the video linked here is probly from a aircraft much further away.

  22. I bet the ruskies have loads of film of the Tsar explosion but it has never been released. I reckon someone should make a documentry about it and see if they can get the russian gov to release more footage.

  23. Photo 1 in the link given above is not of the Tsar explosion. The shape of the mushroom cloud is wrong for a high altitude detonation. Tsar was detonated at 4000 metres. The picture is more likely to be one of Russia’s earlier H-bombs which were tested inside Russia. The really big tests all occurred on Novaya Zemlya up in the arctic circle (For obvious reasons!)Tsar was also detonated in clear skies whereas the photo clearly shows an overcast sky. As an aside, one of Russia’s earlier H-Bomb tests caused much destruction to a town quite some distance away because the shock wave was reflected off a low overcast causing much destruction on the ground

  24. That picture is it, Anon. Trust me, it rose 64 km and this was taken during the explosion so… there was fireball, I looked at the video and saw that same photo (coloring diffrent though) but its right one. Also, hydrogen bombs also form cloud from the immense pressure caused by them, alot of tests on flim show this phemnoena.


    is the same as

    but the one is better without laggs :)
    however the “best one” of “tsar bomba” is in these:

    The Nuclear and Biological Warfare DVD comes with 2 programs. “WW1: Germany’s Secret Gambles” and
    “Cold War: The Strangelove Factor”. The Strangelove Factor is the program with the Tsar Bomba :)

  26. The tsar explosion is really awesome. You can see it on google video thats the 1st site you run into anyways. The bomb is carried by a swift plane, when lands it is lifted by parachute so the jet will have time to fly away and detonates at 10,000 feet! BOOM! The bomb’s smoke cloud goes through the cloud layer and 40 miles high! The smoke from it is extremely hot and disintigrates everything in its path. The land just below the bomb (10,000 feet from land) had a 10 foot hole not very deep but everything around it turned to ash, yes even rocks. The perfect eliminating machine that doesnt have to hit a target perfectly but bomb it all at once! This was soviet union’s most powerful and still atomic bomb! It is a show of force,a force that could eliminate anyone off the face of the earth within the 110mile radius! Im gonna eat some cheese..

  27. I hate this whole lack of detonation pics from behind the iron curtain, Russian bombs were the most powerful built! Wish more sources existed…

  28. Oh, did anyone know that the U.S tested an atomic artillary shell? Forgot what the project was called, but it happened somwhere in Nevada (big surprise), I’ll see what I can find.

  29. Sorry for the triple-post, but here’s the shell info: the W-9 1384mm nuclear-armed T-124 artillary shell, fired from the specially-built “Atomic Annie” gun as part of Operation Upshot-Knothole, codenamed Shot GRABLE, yield of 15 kilotons, it was the only nuclear shell ever actually fired as part of a U.S test program. Russia had similar weapons, the last nuclear shells were reportadly withdrawn from Europe in 1992.
    A-bomb from a cannon, well, it’s efficient, I’m gonna go watch CNN Cold War.

  30. Yea ok……read all the comments…… yea…..ummmm help me out….im in need of the picture…of a nuclear bomb russia dentonated..and it wasnt the Tzar bomb…well they didnt call it that…..And…ive never seen Explosions: on Discovery channel….what i did see tho…and was very interesting….was on the military channel…Race for the Nuclear bomb…..and the pic im talking about ….if anyone has seen it….Omg……the largest nuclear bomb ever tested…..and it was ment to scare the US…and russia put everything into it……but it wasnt called the Tzar bomb….anyone help

  31. This film claims to be the Tsar bomb test footage… Anyone know if it is? Or the name of this bomb if it’s not and where I can get a better quality version of this film?

  32. That Discovery film of “Tsar Bomba” is misleading. The parts at the beginning showing the building of the weapon, the air dropping and the initial fireball are Tsar Bomba, but at the end when it shows the fireball in the distance behind the town that is actually the RDS-37 test. Even discovery channel f***** it up. Everyone gets confused with the film of the RDS-37 test and Tsar Bomba. There is not a lot of Tsar Bomba film out there which is a shame as they obviously used probably upwards of 60-70 cameras to film the shot.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: