1950 to 1959: The Two Superpowers

1950 to 1959: The Two Superpowers

Timeline Image: 
Newspaper with headline "Truman says Russia set of Atom blast"

May 28, 1957

U.S. conducts shot Boltzmann of Operation Plumbbob, a light-weight "boosted" nuclear warhead that yielded 12 kilotons. The nuclear system weighed only 145 lbs and was 18 by 32 inches in size.

March 25, 1954

The US conducts Shot Romeo of Operation Castle, a 11 megaton thermonuclear weapon whose observed yield was far higher than anticipated (only 4 Mt) due to a lack of understanding of the complex conditions inside of a hydrogen bomb.

March 1, 1954

The United States conducts the "Bravo" test, the largest thermonuclear device in history up to that point. Bravo was a device using Lithium Deuteride as its fuel and the explosion yielded 15 megatons. The bomb was in a form readily adaptable for delivery by an aircraft and was thus America's first weaponized hydrogen bomb.

December 8, 1953

President Eisenhower delivers his "Atoms for Peace" speech which outlines a program for the distribution of peaceful nuclear technology, materials, and know-how to many countries with less advanced research.

August 12, 1953

The first test of a Soviet thermonuclear device takes place. The test, which became known as Joe-4 (this had been the fourth Soviet nuclear explosion whose occurrence was announced by the United States), took place at the Semipalatinsk test site and yielded roughly 400 kilotons of TNT.