The explosion cloud resulting from the Operation Hurricane detonation
|Test site||Montebello Islands|
|Number of tests||1|
|Test type||"barge"; in the hold of HMS Plym|
|Max. yield||25 kt|
|Next test series||Operation Totem|
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (March 2012)|
Several key British scientists had worked on the Manhattan Project and after returning to the UK worked on the British atom bomb project, so unsurprisingly the weapon had a close similarity to Fat Man (Nagasaki) weapon, although the McMahon Atomic Energy Act of 1946 prevented any British access to the US design data. The design used a hollow core, unlike the gadget tested at Trinity. This increased the expected yield of the bomb to 30 kilotons, although the actual yield was closer to 25 kilotons. The bomb core used 7 kg of plutonium produced mainly at Windscale (now Sellafield) in Cumbria with a low Pu-240 content of only 2%. Pu-240 is an unavoidable contaminant of Pu-239 produced by irradiation of uranium in a thermal reactor; its effect in a bomb core is to increase the risk of a "fizzle" or pre-detonation. The only way to keep it within acceptable limits at that time was to limit the time the reactor fuel was exposed in the reactors. The Canadian Chalk River plant supplied 5 kg of plutonium by April 1952. and by August 1952 the Windscale plant had supplied 18 kg. No records exist to show whether any of the Canadian material was used in the Hurricane test device; more than one fissile core was prepared for the trial, each to a different design.
To test the effects of a ship-smuggled bomb (a threat of great concern to the British at the time), Hurricane was exploded inside the hull of HMS Plym (a 1,370-ton River class frigate) which was anchored in 12 metres (39 ft) of water, 350 metres (1,150 ft) off Trimouille Island. The explosion occurred 2.7 metres (8 ft 10 in) below the water line, and left a saucer-shaped crater on the seabed 6 metres (20 ft) deep and 300 metres (980 ft) across.
The detonations in the United Kingdom's Hurricane series are listed below:
|Name[table 1]||Date Time (UT[table 2])||Location[table 3]||Elevation + Height[table 4]||Delivery[table 5]||Purpose[table 6]||Device[table 7]||Yield[table 8]||Venting[table 9]||Notes|
|Hurricane||October 3, 1952 00:59:24||Monte Bello Island, West Australia||0 - 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in)||Barge||Weapon effect||Basic American Mark 3design with suspended pit||25 kt||Exploded in the hold of the HMS Plym (a 1,370 short tons (1,240 t) River class frigate).|
- The event number from the official list, occasionally a name as well. An appended number represents a member of a salvo test. They usually all have the same name, like Tub-A, Tub-B, ..., but early on had separate names, so other members are denoted by "(with xyz)".
- Universal Time in western Australia is 8 hours before local time; UT dates are one day before local date for UT times before 08:00.
- Rough place name and a Latitude/Longitude reference. Some are extremely accurate; others (like airdrops and space blasts) may be quite inaccurate. '~' indicates a likely pro-forma rough location, shared with other tests in that same area.
- Elevation is the ground level at the point directly below the explosion relative to sea level; height is the additional distance added or subtracted by tower, balloon, shaft, tunnel or other contrivance. For air bursts it is the absolute altitude of the explosion disregarding ground level (though the ground level is given for comparison), and for rockets the ground level is "N/A".
- Atmospheric, airdrop, balloon, gun, cruise missile, rocket, surface, tower, barge and cratering are all disallowed by the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Sealed shaft and tunnel are underground, and remained useful under the PTBT.
- Include weapons development, weapon effects, safety test, transport safety test, war, science, joint verification and industrial/peaceful, which may be further broken down.
- Designations for test items where known, nicknames for individual bombs in quotes.
- Estimated energy yield in tonnes, kilotonnes, and megatonnes (all metric units).
- Emissions to atmosphere, where known. "I131" indicates only iodine 131 considered, while "Total" indicates that all radiation species. No entry means unknown, probably none if underground and everything if not; otherwise notation for whether measured on the site only or off the site, and the maximum amount released.
- The National Archives, London, ES 1/11.
- Yang, Xiaoping; North, Robert; Romney, Carl (August 2000). CMR Nuclear Explosion Database (Revision 3). SMDC Monitoring Research.
- Norris, Robert S.; Burrows, Andrew S.; Fieldhouse, Richard W. (1994). Nuclear Weapons Databook, Vol. 5: British, French, and Chinese Nuclear Weapons. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
- Cooper, Malcolm B.; Lokan, Keith H.; Williams, Geoffrey A. (1983-11-01). The Radiological Status of the Monte Bello Islands: May 1983. Yallambie, VIC, Australia: Australian Radiation Laboratory. Retrieved 2013-12-18.
- Cathcart, Brian (1994). Test of Greatness: Britain's Stuggle for the Atom Bomb. Cambridge, UK: John Murray.
- Bird, Peter (1989) Operation Hurricane Worcester: Square One Publications. ISBN 1-872017-10-X First published: 1953.
- AWE history
- Original AWE page available from archive.org
- British nuclear weapons testing in Australia[dead link]
- Operation Hurricane - Ministry of Supply made documentary
- Better quality extract from the same video of the Hurricane Nuclear Test
- Atomic Forum[dead link]
- Britain's Nuclear Weapons-From MAUD to Hurricane
- Operation Hurricane by National Archives of Australia - Vimeo
- Declassified AWRE reports and National Archives files on Operation Hurricane's scientific and civil defence implications