Minor Scale

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For the musical concept, see minor scale.
Minor Scale fireball immediately after detonation. The F-4 Phantom aircraft in the foreground is 63 feet (19 m) long.

Minor Scale was a test conducted on June 27, 1985 by the United States Defense Nuclear Agency (now part of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency) involving the detonation of several thousand tons of conventional explosives to simulate the explosion of a small nuclear bomb. The purpose of the test was to evaluate the effect of nuclear blasts on various pieces of military hardware, particularly new, blast-hardened launchers for the Midgetman ballistic missile.[1]

The test took place at the Permanent High Explosive Testing Grounds (33°37′12″N 106°28′30″W / 33.6201°N 106.4749°W / 33.6201; -106.4749) of the White Sands Missile Range in the state of New Mexico. 4.8 kilotons of ANFO explosive (ammonium nitrate and fuel oil),[2][3] equivalent to 4 kilotons of TNT,[4] were used to roughly simulate the effect of an eight kiloton air-burst nuclear device. With a total energy release of about 1.7 ×1013 joules (or 4.2 kilotons of TNT equivalent), Minor Scale was reported as "the largest planned conventional explosion in the history of the free world",[5] surpassing another large conventional explosion, the 'British Bang' disposal of ordnance on Heligoland in 1947, reported to have released 1.3 × 1013 joules of energy (about 3.2 kilotons of TNT equivalent).[6]

The Q&A released as part of the effort states: "Future tests are not expected to get bigger than Minor Scale", and in particular, "There are no plans for a test called Major Scale".[7]

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Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Summary of Minor Scale from nuclearfiles.org
  2. ^ TECH REPS INC ALBUQUERQUE NM (1986). Minor Scale Event, Test Execution Report (PDF). 
  3. ^ J. Fitzgerald (1986). Technical Report LA-10657-MS: Bistatic Phase Sounding in the Ionosphere above the Minor Scale Explosion. Los Alamos National Labs. 
  4. ^ Minor Scale Event Test Execution Report, p.135
  5. ^ "Test Blast: Official Portrait". 
  6. ^ Willmore, PL (1949). "Seismic Experiments on the North German Explosions, 1946 to 1947". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A (JSTOR) 242 (843): 123–151. doi:10.1098/rsta.1949.0007. 
  7. ^ Minor Scale Event, Test Execution Report, p. 137.

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