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Russia declassifies unseen footage of the largest nuke ever tested


The mushroom cloud of the ‘Tsar Bomba’ seen from a hundred miles away (Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation)

Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be forever linked with the atomic bomb attacks of World War Two.

But less than twenty years later in 1961, Russia detonated the largest nuclear bomb the world has ever seen.

Called RDS-220, but also known as the ‘Tsar Bomba’, it exploded with the force of 50,000,000 tonnes of TNT.

Now, sixty years later, the country has declassified footage of the bomb test and posted it to YouTube. The Tsar Bomba hydrogen bomb remains the largest man-made explosion in human history.

The mushroom cloud reached 42 miles into the air (seven times higher than Everest) and the actual explosion was visible from up to 620 miles away.

The bomb was dropped near the Arctic Ocean and detonated 4,000 metres above the ground. It was still powerful enough to shatter windows in Norway and Finland.

The bomb was loaded onto a modified Soviet Tu-95V bomber (Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation)

This extreme event was one of the last times a nuke was tested above ground.

In 1963, the Soviet Union joined the UK and the US in signing the Partial Test Ban Treaty which required all tests to move underground.

This new footage was declassified by Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation to mark the 75th anniversary of the country’s nuclear industry.

The first half hour is a propaganda-style look at the bomb’s development and construction. Then comes the jaw-dropping footage of the actual detonation itself.

The bomb itself was massive. It measured 26 feet long and nearly seven feet tall.

In order to make room for it, a Soviet Tu-95V bomber had to have several fuel tanks and the bomb bay doors removed.

Even though the plane was about 75 miles away when Tsar Bomba went off, the shockwave enveloped it and nearly killed the pilot. He managed to recover and land the plane safely.

In the footage above, the mushroom cloud is being viewed from around a hundred miles away.

The detonation holds the rather macabre honour of being listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most powerful thermonuclear device ever used.


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