Britain tests H-Bomb
The 15th of May 1957 AD
British scientists, including the subsequently disgraced Klaus Fuchs , had been involved in the development of nuclear weapons in the USA during WWII , and by 1952 Britain had become a nuclear power with its own atom bomb . But the technology had moved on to the use of hydrogen thermo-nuclear devices, and Britain’s programme – Operation Grapple - bore fruit in 1957.
At 19:37 GMT on May 15 1957, over the uninhabited Malden Island in the central Pacific, Wing Commander K. Hubbard piloting a Valiant B1 bomber at a height of roughly 2400m dropped a device with the codename Green Granite Small. Not so very small as it weighed more than 4000kg. Some 52 seconds later it detonated successfully above the island, though the yield only proved to be about 300 kilotons, when 1 megaton had been expected. Britain had become a thermonuclear power, however, and weapon improvement if the word is applicable could follow.
In the strange nomenclature of such things Britain described Malden Island as its ‘instrumentation site’, and insisted it was not in fact a target of the weapon, though a marker was deployed on the island’s southern tip. Now part of Kiribati, Malden Island has since recovered, and is a haven for seabirds.
More famous dates here
7622 views since 27th February 2007
On this day: