The Russian nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, has released an over 40-minute video showing the detonation of the world’s most powerful hydrogen bomb, dubbed the Tsar Bomba or Tsar’s bomb. First set off on October 30, 1961, the explosive was believed to have been at least 3,333 times as destructive as the atomic bomb that wreaked havoc in Japan’s Hiroshima in 1945, the New York Times reported.
The hydrogen bomb was first tested over Novaya Zemlya, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. The once-classified documentary footage, titled ‘Top Secret: Test of a clean hydrogen bomb with a yield of 50 megatons’, shows how the bomb was built and carried to the testing centre before it caused the largest explosion on record — equal to 50 million tons of TNT.
Earlier, visual evidence of the historic explosion was limited, comprising merely of a few low-quality images and grainy videos. Last week, the Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation released the documentary for the first time — showing the entire test explosion in vivid detail.
The Tsar’s Bomb was delivered to the testing site by a Soviet Tu-95 bomber. The bomb, attached to a parachute, was released from the plane and the countdown began. When it reached the detonation point, at an altitude of 4,000 metres, it exploded with a bright flash, leaving a mammoth mushroom cloud in its wake.
While it was nicknamed ‘Tsar Bomba’ by the west, the bomb was known by a variety of names in the Soviet Union — Project 27000, Product Code 202, RDS-220, and Kuzinka Mat (Kuzka’s Mother). It was developed as part of a programme known as ‘izdeliye 202’.
The bomb was the product of a long-running nuclear race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Each country wanted to build the most powerful bomb the world had ever seen. While the US was the first to develop and test an atomic bomb, with the Trinity Test in 1945, the Soviets were able to develop the most destructive bomb of all time.
In fact, the bomb was so powerful that it was believed to have been too big to use in war. According to a BBC report, the bomb was 26 feet long and weighed more than 27 tonnes. While it closely resembled the American ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’ atomic bombs, used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the Tsar’s Bomb was more than three thousand times more powerful.