Nuclear tests: databases and other material--Johnston's Archive
RDS-37 nuclear test, 1955
compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
last modified 29 January 2009
22 November 1955
Semipalatinsk test site, Kazakhstan, USSR
Type of event:
accidental radioactive release from underground nuclear test
On 22 November 1955 the USSR conducted its first test of a multi-stage thermonuclear device. The device, the RDS-37, was designed as a nuclear gravity bomb with a full yield of about 3 megatons. The test version was modified to reduce the yield to an expected 1.45 megatons, to reduce the risk to the local population. It was airdropped from a Tupolev-95 bomber over Technical Area Sh ("Ground Zero") at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan. It detonated with a yield of 1.6 megatons at altitude of 1,550 meters. Civilians in nearby villages had been warned as a precaution, but one child who ran back into a house immediately after the detonation was killed when the blast wave arrived and caused the roof to collapse. Another 42 were injured by glass fragments. A trench collapsed onto soldiers observing the detonation at 36 km from ground zero, killing one from suffocation and causing contusions to five others.
2 fatalities, 47 injuries.
- Adushkin, Vitaly V., and William Leith, Sept. 2001, "The containment of Soviet underground nuclear explosions," USGS Open File Report 01-312, on line, USGS [http://geology.er.usgs.gov/eespteam/pdf/USGSOFR01312.pdf].
- Cochran, Thomas B., William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris, and Jeffrey I. Sands, Nuclear Weapons Databook Vol. IV: Soviet Nuclear Weapons, Harper and Row (New York, NY).
- Goncharov, G. A., 1996, "American and Soviet H-bomb development programmes: historical background," Physics--Uspekhi, 39:1033-1044.
- IAEA, Dec. 2004, "Nuclear explosions in the USSR: The North Test Site reference material, version 4," IAEA Dept. of Nuclear Safety and Security, on line [http://www-ns.iaea.org/downloads/rw/waste-safety/north-test-site-final.pdf]
- Logachev, V. A., L. A. Mikhalikhina, Dec. 2007, "Animal effects from Soviet atmospheric nuclear tests," DTRA-TR-07-38, on line at AFRRI [http://www.afrri.usuhs.mil/outreach/pdf/DTRA-TR-07-38.pdf].
- Podvig, Pavel, ed., 2001, Russian Strategic Forces, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA).
- RFNC-VNIIEF, 1996, USSR Nuclear Weapons Tests and Peaceful Nuclear Explosions 1949 through 1990, RFNC-VNIIEF (Sarov, Russia), on line at Analytic Center for Non-Proliferation Problems [http://npc.sarov.ru/english/issues/peaceful/peaceful_e.pdf].
- Sakharov, Andrei, 1990, Memoirs, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY).
- Yang, Xiaoping, Robert North, and Carl Romney, Aug. 2000, "CMR Nuclear Explosion Database (Revision 3)," on line, SMDC Monitoring Research [http://www.rdss.info/database/nucex/report/explosion.pdf].
© 2006, 2009 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 29 January 2009.
Return to Home. Return to Nuclear Weapons Resources. Return to Nuclear tests--databases and other material.