Operation CASTLE's 15 MT Bravo early fireball with Compton Effect lightning, March 1, 1954

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Operation DOMINIC Johnston Island (1962), Section 3

Thor missiles were built by Douglas Aircraft Company -- later merged into McDonnell Douglas in 1967, and then Boeing in 1997 -- and required manufacturer technicians to monitor their technical operation.

DOMINIC I nearly ran out of Thor rockets, because of unforeseen tracking and rocket component failures. FISHBOWL reached completion with a Nike-Hercules rocket in the last shot, coded as Tightrope.

Instrument pods replaced AVCO reentry vehicles after aerodynamic failures in trial launches. Ceramic plating protected the lower rocket from exhaust eddies created by the pods and their support extensions.

Sadly obvious, not much could be done with the dark areas with digital processing, without increasing defects.

The shoreline cliffs and beach rocks are grey-black basalt.

Scientific monitoring of high altitude nuclear bursts took place at stations like these throughout the Pacific basin.

Flag Plot on the USS Princeton (LPH-5) was the VIP work center of the fleet. This is normally the fleet commander's navigation and operations office, but Major General Alfred Starbird was the joint task force leader of DOMINIC I. (R to L) Dr. William E. Ogle, Los Alamos test director (a.k.a. supreme scientific commander, who also was among the top American negotiators for the use of Christmas Island/Kiritimati during DOMINIC); Starbird, Joint Task Force 8 supreme commander, US Army; Captain Paul J. Knapp, USN, skipper of USS Princeton; Lieutenant Colonel George Kallis, USAF, JTF 8 technical operations deputy; unknown US Navy commander.

MIM-14 (Mobile Interceptor Missile design 14) Nike-Hercules launch in salvo, each capable of reaching over 100 000 feet (30.5 km). This was the type of missile that carried the W31 boosted fission nuclear warhead of the last shot of the entire operation, coded as Tightrope, to 13 miles (21 km) in altitude.

Kingfish test update:


That looks like Dr. William E. Ogle (below, left), the Los Alamos National Laboratory's field testing division commander:

Johnston Island's large radar tracking dish during DOMINIC I high altitude experiments:

Johnston Island launch pad flyover:

Oil tar sprays suppressed sand blowing the constant trade winds, especially in areas of high vehicle traffic, causing darker areas.

This coral sand crusher was the source of the island's growth over time (update):

USS Sproston (DD-577):

Is this a riometer field to the left?:

A remote island's data capture site:

Long range cameras recorded burst phenomena:

Instrument stations were placed throughout the Pacific basin.

Rafts like these were the bombing targets for nuclear weapons development tests off of Johnston Island, over open sea. Targeting radar reflectors, radio beacons, and flashing lights made them easy to find.

USS Princeton (LPH-5) hosted the fleet command center for some of Operation DOMINIC I. The darker, greyish-blue water under the ship was a sea rise, likely of coral.

Highly radioactive filter paper from a shot sampling mission was loaded into the lead protection casing, called a pig. That Martin B-57 flew through a mushroom cloud to extract bomb debris particles, using filter pods along the wing tips. These samples were flown directly to the Lawrence-Livermore and Los Alamos weapons labs, for fission efficiency analysis.

The relative amount of unfissioned uranium and plutonium among their decay products determined the yield of the fission component. Fireball photography and electromagnetic signal timings between fission and fusion stages were common techniques to calculate the fusion and total yields.

USS Spruance (DD-447) sailed at sea after its FRAM II (Fleet Rehabilitation And Modernization, Mark II) upgrade during 1961 in Hawaii. Mark II was a lighter upgrade intended to extend the useful life of the World War II ship by at least 5 years, and less costly than a Mark I system, with the Vietnamese insurgency growing. The overhaul included the new DASH (Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter) system, Mark 32 torpedo tubes, and VDS (Variable Depth Sonar), to detect extremely quiet submarines.

Technicians buried this scientific recorder:

Spinning antennas measured signal propagation effects during a nuclear burst:

1.6 megaton yield Chama detonated at 3650 meters (12 000 feet) high.

Original Housatonic sequence:

Early test:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Operation DOMINIC Nuclear Tests 1962, Section 3

Developed for the United States Air Force by Lockheed, C-130 Hercules aircraft first entered service in 1955 as the fastest American military propeller-driven cargo planes of that time, exceeding 370 mph (595 kph).

This platform carried fireball and device performance diagnostic equipment:

The C-130 had a unique ability of its time, able to taxi in reverse under its own power. Reversible thrust propellers made this possible. This same feature shortened landing distances for more versatility with ground unloading and reloading support around the world.

A Douglas C-54 Skymaster

A Martin RB-57D Canberra cloud sampler of the 4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (SRS), based at Kirtland AFB. The 4028th SRS was under the command of their SAC wing, which is famous for the first to fly U-2 missions over hostile territories.

An XM-33 Strypi Antares was in its final preparations as diagnostic support for STARFISH PRIME.

The STARFISH 1.45 megaton yield W49 warhead detonated at 250 mi/400 km altitude, 9 July, 1962.

CHECKMATE also used 3 Strypi missiles, 2 as diagnostic missiles, and one as the warhead launcher, using 2 Recruit boosters attached at its base.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Section 3, Operation HARDTACK Military Effects Studies (1958): High Altitude

The Redstone launch pad is to the far right of this flyover view of Johnston Island:

USS Lansing (DER-388) used her VHF radar for pod and nosecone tracking on shot TEAK. Lansing also retrieved an instrument pod after a P2V spotted it two hours after the shot.

During some other shots she ran search and rescue patrols, along with the USS Joyce (DER-317), eventually recovering 13 nosecones in total.

It's unknown what the original colors of his Aloha shirt were:

MV Acania presumably in the shadow of a cloud:

A closeup of the dish during an evening scene: