Return to Operation Buster-Jangle (event)

Operation Buster-Jangle has a hyphen in its name because it was actually two planned nuclear test operations combined into one, for ease of logistics. Operation Buster was a series of tests planned and executed for Los Alamos National Laboratory, to gather data to be used in the design of new nuclear weapons. Operation Jangle was a Department of Defense test series, intended to gather data on nuclear weapon effects on targets and military operations.

All detonations of Buster-Jangle took place at the Nevada Test Site. The five shots of Operation Buster (Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog and Easy from the then-current U.S. military phonetic alphabet) took place from October 22, 1951 to November 5, 1951. Jangle's two detonations, Sugar and Uncle (mnemonics for 'surface' and 'underground') took place immediately afterwards on November 19, 1951 and November 29, 1951. Operation Desert Rock (I-III) took place during three of the Buster-Jangle shots, involving U.S. ground troops maneuvering in proximity to nuclear weapon detonations. II and III took place during Jangle Sugar and Jangle Uncle, but were heavily limited due to the extremely high radioactive fallout produced from the surface and slightly subsurface (17 feet down) bursts. The airburst of Buster Dog allowed Operation Desert Rock I to take place with much lower risk and fewer restrictions, as it produced very little fallout other than neutron induced radiation in some materials.

The first shot of the series, Buster -Able, was noteworthy in that it produced the first failure of a nuclear device to detonate - the first fizzle. Although the weapon mechanism was a by-then standard one, similar to the Fat Man implosion design, the plutonium mass had been reduced sharply in an attempt to determine and test the lower bound of the amount of fissile material required to produce a working weapon. In this sense, the test succeeded, offering clear evidence of what was 'not enough.' The mechanism of the shot functioned, and its high explosives detonated as intended. Although there was detectable fission, the detonation was not appreciably larger than would have been expected from the high explosive output alone. The steel tower constructed for the shot, which housed the bomb at its top, was not destroyed, although heavily damaged by the conventional blast. The fissile material was scattered.

The tests of Buster-Jangle were a mix of air-dropped, tower shots, and surface/subsurface bursts.

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