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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Operation DOMINIC Nuclear Tests 1962, Section 2

A tracking array on a ship

Thor missiles were stored under this rollover shelter that covered them before firing. The shelter was rolled away on tracks, the rocket raised upright and then fueled before launches.

An M52 truck maneuvered this Thor to its launch platform, to ready placement of its Mk 2 nosecone reentry vehicle that contained the nuclear device.

Douglas Aircraft (before its 1967 merger with McDonnell) built the Thor missile body, while Rocketdyne made the engines, AC Spark Plug the primary inertial guidance system, Bell Labs the backup radio guidance system, and General Electric the nose cone/reentry vehicle assemblies.

Trailers like this allowed the Douglas team to monitor the rockets, yet the military range safety officer fired the missiles from the aerospace command center.

Final preparations were made for a SJI-151 Nike-Apache on its launcher, as part of the STARFISH PRIME experiment. 10 of these rocket configurations probed X-ray and beta emissions, and other properties of the 1.45 megaton explosion, from 106 miles (172 km) to 140 mi (230 km) high.

Heavy construction was common during Operation DOMINIC I, including the presence of planers like this.

Extensive brush and other vegetation needed to be cleared for instruument stations throughout the Pacific, before DOMINIC I test operations could begin.

Since the British destroyed most of the military facilities, or left them in ruins after they finished their superbomb tests at Christmas Island, Joint Task Force 8 went to work on construction.

Most of Christmas Island (now Kiritimati) is white coral sand.

Gilbertese language pronounces ti as an s sound, therefore Kiritimati is prounced as [kəˈrɪsməs], which sounds nearly the same as the English "Christmas."

Great Britain loaned Christmas Island to the United States, after a mutual agreement was made between both nations. USA supplied nuclear weapons to the British after the British were forced to give up on their own production and development, facing the punishing costs of the program.

By far the greatest cost in nuclear weapons development is the related delivery technology: bombers, missiles, and more.

Johnston Island is inside the protection barrier of Johnston Atoll. This size of the island greatly increased from 1958 to 1964, through extensive dredging by the military.

Under construction during this sequence, this large antenna on Johnston Island was used for high altitude signal tests.

Chart recorders

USS Richard B. Anderson (DD-786) bored through rough seas in this scene. The Anderson participated in the Pacific Basin ASROC test.

The RUR-5 ASROC (Anti-Submarine ROCket) was fired from the destroyer USS Agerholm (DD-826).

The target was a raft 4348 yards (3976 m) from Agerholm, floating in water 17,140 ft (5224 m) deep.

SWORDFISH detonated at 1:02 PM local Pacific Time, 11 May, 1962. Its yield was 10 kilotons. Exploding at -650 feet (198 m) below the surface, the W44 warhead was in a (40 second delay from launch) depth bomb configuration (in difference to its optional, self-tracking torpedo mode). The hypocenter was 370 nm (686 km) southwest of San Diego, California.

More information about SWORDFISH: Operation DOMINIC I 1962 DNA 6040F
Click to expand the map of the test array at shot time, to better understand what happened.

ASROC post shot maneuvers ASROC surge and foam patch illustrations dominic coracle
Click to enlarge each thumbnail

Instrument buoys like this were pulled through the SWORDFISH test zone by USS Molala (ATF-106). The instruments were levitated on a spring base to prevent the powerful incident and reflected shockwaves from destroying them. Hills and valleys of the ocean floor created interference patterns in the reflected waves that multiplied their power in various locations along the surface.

Soviet spy ships lingered close to the borders of the danger zone. During STARFISH PRIME these heavily instrumented boats monitored the nuclear tests in both the northern and southern hemisphere conjugate point regions.

The American military flew regular patrols to observe these ships, or the U.S. Navy shadowed them, frequently with destroyers.

Adding to annoyance and possible confrontations, personnel from these ships also tracked commanders on islands outside of the security zone, including Joint Task Force 8's supreme commander.

A radar tracked aerial tests from this vessel, yet the location outside the security zone prevented any sort of legal recourse to stop them.

The Kremlin tactily sent its regards as crewmembers appeared outside.

The Red Bank Register of Red Bank, NJ, USA article on these expeditionary ships sent by the Soviets (June 12, 1962) [Defunct publisher]:

Part 1: spy ship 1 Part 2: spy ship 2
Click to expand

Click to see the DOMINIC I danger areas in the central Pacific:
Operation DOMINIC I 1962 
DNA 6040F

Frame-by-Frame color editing is in progress from this dynamic sequence, because the bright disk was late in the yellowish stage, before changing to the other colors. Obviously there is considerably more tinkering needed before the final scene version:

The BLUEGILL TRIPLE PRIME W50 warhead exploded over Johnston Island, at 30 miles (48 km) up.

Military observers logged their observations of this event:

Operation DOMINIC I 1962 
DNA 6040F

A telescopic film camera tracked the only live test of the Polaris A2 missile with a W47 (Y1 Mod) 600 kiloton nuclear warhead, in an operation called FRIGATE BIRD, 6 May, 1962.

After a series of weather and technical equipment problems, a launch from the USS Ethan Allen (SSBN-608) finally took place. The third missile of 4 available on the submarine, flew 1100 miles (1770 km) southwest toward its burst location at 8300 feet (2530 m) altitude over open sea. More information is here.

The water in the original has a hazy appearance of a semi-overcast day, added to the softening of shadows. A U.S. Navy Submarine Force news magazine article, linked above, confirmed the low ceiling cloud cover.

The U.S. Air Force Military Air Transport Service's (MATS) 13520 Photo Group was based at Lookout Mountain Laboratory (LML) in the Hollywood Hills of California. LML was responsible for photographic documention of both development and both military and scientific effects of all nuclear tests during the atmospheric era, 1946 - 1962.

The laboratory profiled its many important roles in this short film:

The location now serves as a rehabilitation center after laboratory's dismantling in 1969 and sequential passage into private ownership.

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