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Desert Rock Camp

This is the first of a 3-part series about the nuclear bomb testing done on U.S. soil.  This part is the basic overview, the next 2 posts will cover more in detail.

Operation Buster–Jangle was a series of seven (six atmospheric, one cratering) nuclear weapons tests conducted by the United States in late 1951 at the Nevada Test Site, Desert Rock Camp. Buster-Jangle was the first joint test program between the DOD (Operation Buster) and Los Alamos National Laboratories (Operation Jangle). As part of Operation Buster, 6,500 troops were involved in the Operation Desert Rock I, II, and III exercises in conjunction with the tests.

Desert Rock I, II, III

Observer programs were conducted at shots DogSugar, and Uncle. Tactical maneuvers were conducted after shot Dog. Damage effects tests were conducted at shots DogSugar, and Uncle to determine the effects of a nuclear detonation on military equipment and field fortifications.

Desert Rock IV

Observer programs were conducted at shots CharlieDogFox, and George. Tactical maneuvers were conducted after shots CharlieDog, and George. Psychological tests were conducted at shots CharlieFox, and George to determine the troops’ reactions to witnessing a nuclear detonation.

Desert Rock V

Exercise Desert Rock V included troop orientation and training, a volunteer officer observer program, tactical troop maneuvers, operational helicopter tests, and damage effects evaluation.

A bomb named Buster

Desert Rock VI

Observer programs were conducted at shots WaspMothTeslaTurkBeeEssApple 1, and Apple 2. Tactical maneuvers were conducted after shots Bee and Apple 2. Technical studies were conducted at shots WaspMothTeslaTurkBeeEssApple 1Wasp PrimeMet, and Apple 2.

A test of an armored task force, RAZOR, was conducted at shot Apple 2 to demonstrate the capability of a reinforced tank battalion to seize an objective immediately after a nuclear detonation.

Desert Rock VII, VIII

Tactical maneuvers were conducted after shots HoodSmoky, and Galileo. At shot Hood, the Marine Corps conducted a maneuver involving the use of a helicopter airlift and tactical air support. At shot Smoky, Army troops conducted an airlift assault, and at shot Galileo, Army troops were tested to determine their psychological reactions to witnessing a nuclear detonation.

The last two tests, Operation Jangle, evaluated the cratering effects of low-yield nuclear devices. This series preceded Operation Tumbler-Snapper and followed by Operation Greenhouse.

11th A/B shoulder patch

Four U.S. Army units took part in the Operation Buster–Jangle “Dog” test for combat maneuvers after the detonation of a nuclear weapon took place. These 11th Airborne units consisted of:

  1. 1st Battalion 188th Airborne Infantry Regiment/11th Airborne Division
  2. 3rd Medical Platoon /188th Airborne Medical Company
  3. Platoon Company A/12th Engineering Battalion
  4. Battery C /546th Field Artillery Battalion

Personnel were instructed to create foxholes, construct gun emplacements and bunkers in a defensive position 11 km south of the detonation area. After the nuclear bomb was detonated, the troops were ordered to move forward towards the affected area. While traveling closer to ground zero, troops witnessed the nuclear weapon’s effects on the fortifications that were placed in the location in preparation for the tests. The ground troops got as close as 900 meters from ground zero before they were instructed to move out of the area. The Human Resources Research Office was tasked with gathering data on the psychological experiences of the troops after witnessing such a detonation and moving closer towards the affected area.

For the Operation Buster–Jangle series of tests, the Atomic Energy Commission created a set of criteria that must be followed if exposing armed forces, or civilians to the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

to be continued……

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

George “Chip” Chiappetta – Morgan Hill, CA; US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 36 y.)

Harold Drews – USA; US Army, Korea, MSgt., K Co./3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Hungnam)

Javier Guttierrez – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt., 3/7th Special Forces Group, KIA

Mike “Mad Mike” Hoare (100) – brn: Calcutta, IND; Royal Army, WWII, CBI, 2nd Recon Regiment, Major

Warren Kirsch – New Orleans, LA; US Army, WWII / USMC, Korea

Edward Nalazek – IL; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., KIA (Tarawa)

Antonio Rodriguez – Las Cruces, NM; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt., 3/7th Special Forces Group, KIA

Frank Stevens – Cordova, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 radar specialist

Clarence Wells – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 803rd Aviation Engineer Battalion

Martin D. Young – Louisville, KY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, fireman 2nd Class, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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