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Operation Grapple 

The British Test Program To Develop A Hydrogen Bomb

 

Test:  Grapple X/Round C

Time:  8 November 1957 (17:47 GMT)

Location:  Off Christmas Island

Test Height and Type:  Air drop, 2250 m

Yield:  1.8 Megatons

Dropped by a Valiant bomber (XD824) piloted by Squadron Leader Barney Millett. Detonated after 52 sec of free fall.  This was Britain's first truly successful thermonuclear bomb test. The test seems to have been hastily arranged. The bomber squadron was only notified about  the test in September, followed by four weeks of intensive training in preparation. Documents indicate this test had not even been contemplated prior to the spring Grapple shots. The probable reason for this was that it was a rushed redesign following the disappointing Short Granite and Purple Granite shots, spurred on by British fears of an imminent test ban. Only one device, designated Round C, was tested with a yield of 1.8 Mt. This was Britian's first megaton-class explosion, showing that the UK had achieved mastery of H-bomb design.

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Test:  Grapple Y

Time:  8 April 1958 (19:05 GMT)

Location:  Off Christmas Island

Test Height and Type:  Air drop, 2350 m

Yield:  2 Megatons

Dropped by a Valiant bomber (XD825) piloted by Squadron Leader Bob Bates. Detonated 53 seconds after release, only 245 yards off target. This was Britain's fourth test of a radiation implosion thermonuclear bomb, and the second successful high yield test.

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Test:  Grapple Z/Flagpole 1

Time:  2 September 1958 (17:24 GMT)

Location:  Off Christmas Island

Test Height and Type:   Air drop, 2850 m

Yield: 2.5-3 Megatons

Dropped by a Valiant bomber (XD822) piloted by Bill Bailey from 45,000 ft, missed target point by a mere 95 yards. The first British use of blind radar bombing with a nuclear device. This was Britain's fifth test of a radiation implosion thermonuclear bomb. It was the first of Britain's two highest yield tests.

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Test: Grapple Z/Halliard 1

Time:  11 September 1958 (17:49 GMT)

Location: Off Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: Air drop, 2650 m

Yield: 2.5-3 Megatons

 Dropped by a Valiant bomber (XD827) piloted by Flight Lieutenant Tiff O'Connor. This was the second of Britain's two highest yield tests.

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Grapple X  Round C                Christmas Is          08 Nov, 1957          1.8 Mt             Airburst over ocean

Grapple Y Grapple Y               Christmas Is          28 Apr, 1958           2 Mt               Airburst over ocean

Grapple Z  Pennant 2               Christmas Is          22 Aug, 1958          ~1 Mt              Balloon-burst over land

Grapple Z Flag Pole 1              Christmas Is          02 Sept, 1958         2.5-3                Mt Airburst over ocean

Grapple Z Halliard 1                Christmas Is          11 Sept, 1958         2.5-3                Mt Airburst over ocean

Grapple Z Burgee 2                 Christmas Is          23 Sept, 1958         1 Kt                 Balloon-burst over land

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(E-mail: jane@janeresture.com -- Rev. 15th October 2008)