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Operation Dominic 1962 

Christmas Island, Johnston Island, Central Pacific

 

The Soviet Union had abrogated the 34 month old de facto nuclear testing moratorium on 1 September 1961 by initiating an unprecedented series of atmospheric nuclear tests. The initial U.S. response was to commence its own test series (Operation Nougat) two weeks later. Nougat was an underground series however, restricted to very low yield devices.

Numerous atmospheric tests, many at high yield, were of course on the drawing board at the weapons labs, some carried over from planning for previous test series. Official U.S. action on convening its own atmospheric series did not begin until 10 October 1961 when President Kennedy approved planning for one. Final approval was given on 2 March 1962, 7 weeks in advance of the first planned test.

Dominic included 36 tests. The majority of the tests (29 airdrops) were weapons development tests, intended to evaluate advanced designs that the labs had been cooking up during the years of the moratorium and before. Five rocket-launched tests were conducted to gather further weapons effects data on high-altitude phenomena. Two tests of operational weapon systems were conducted - the Polaris submarine launched ballistic missile and the ASROC anti-submarine rocket.

 

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Test: Adobe                 Time:  15:45 25 April 1962 (GMT)                 Location: Christmas Island                

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop, 2,900 Feet         Yield: 190 kt

The mushroom cloud rose to about 60,000 ft.

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Test: Aztec                 Time: 16:01 27 April 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 10 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type:  B-52 Airdrop, 2,610 Feet        Yield: 410 kt

This was a generally successful test.  The yield was slightly lower than expected. The mushroom cloud rose to about 60,000 ft.

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Test: Arkansas                 Time: 18:00.00.16 27 April 1962 (GMT)                 Location: Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop, 5,030 Feet         Yield: 1090 kt

This test was the first parachute-retarded device to be dropped at Christmas Island, it missed its intended air zero point by 600 ft. The aim point was over a raft moored off the southern end of Christmas Island.  Arkansas was a highly successful test of the warhead for the Minuteman missile. The mushroom cloud rose to about 60,000 ft.

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Test: Questa                 Time: 18:01 2 May 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 15 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 5,230 Feet        Yield: 670 kt

The yield (expected to be 1 Mt) was considerably lower than expected.  The mushroom cloud rose to 62,000 ft. with a base height of 35,000 ft.

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Test: Frigate Bird                 Time: 23:30 6 May 1962 (GMT)                 Location: Johnston Island

Test Height and Type: SLBM Airburst; 11,000 Feet         Yield: 600 kt

Frigate Bird was the only US test of an operational ballistic missile with a live warhead. This test involved firing a Polaris A2 missile from a ballistic missile submarine. The missile was launched by the USS Ethan Allen (SSBN-608) at 13:18 (local) from a position 1500 nm east-northeast of Christmas Island. The Re-entry vehicle (RV) and warhead flew 1020 nm downrange toward Christmas Island before re-entering the atmosphere 12.5 minutes later, and detonating in an airburst at 11,000 feet.

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Test: Yukon                 Time: 18:01 8 May 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 10 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 2,880 Feet         Yield: 100 kt

This was an experimental shot, the first of a planned family of light weight, high-fusion/low-fission devices

which were intended to increase the yield-to-weight ratio of ICBM warheads.   The yield was slightly higher than expected, the mushroom cloud rose to 57,000 ft.

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Test: Mesilla                 Time: 17:01 9 May 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 10 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 2,450 Feet         Yield:100 kt

Aimpoint was a target raft, missed the air zero point by 700 feet. The yield was considerably lower than expected.

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Test: Muskegon                 Time: 15:37 11 May 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 10 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 2,995 Feet         Yield: 50 kt

Missed the air zero point by 1000 feet. The yield was slightly lower than expected.

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Test: Encino                 Time: 17:02 12 May 1962 (GMT)                 Location: Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 5,510 Feet         Yield: 500 kt

The bomb fell 1000 ft. from its air zero point. The mushroom cloud rose to 62,500 feet.

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Test: Swanee                 Time: 15:21 14 May 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 10 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 2,940 Feet         Yield: 97 kt

This was a highly experimental weapons development test to collect hydrodynamic and neutronic data on a "clean" weapon design to serve as a prototype of an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) warhead.  The mushroom cloud rose to 55,000 feet.

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Test: Chetco                 Time: 15:36 19 May 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 10 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 6,905 Feet         Yield: 73 kt

This was an advanced concepts test of a light weight device. The yield was close to the predicted value. This drop missed its air zero point by only 200 feet.

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Test: Tanana                 Time: 16:08 25 May 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 10 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 9,030 Feet         Yield: 2.6 kt

The secondary failed to fire, resulting in a fizzle (the first of the Dominic series).  Mushroom rose only to 23,000 feet.

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Test: Nambe                 Time: 17:02 27 May 1962 (GMT)                 Location: Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 7,140 Feet         Yield: 43 kt

The yield was lower than expected. The cloud topped 61,000 feet.

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Test: Alma                 Time: 17:02 8 June 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 15 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 8,865 Feet         Yield: 782 kt

Caused some minor damage to buildings on the island.

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Test: Truckee                 Time: 15:37 9 June 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 10 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 6,970 Feet         Yield: 210 kt

This was a development and verification test for the Polaris A2 missile.  Satisfactory performance.

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Test: Yeso                 Time: 16:01 10 June 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 20 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 8,325 Feet         Yield: 3000 kt

The device performed as expected. This was the fourth largest Dominic explosion, and the largest to date in the series.

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Test: Harlem                 Time: 15:37 12 June 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 17 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 13,645 Feet         Yield: 1200 kt

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Test: Rinconada                 Time: 16:00 15 June 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 17 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 9,105 Feet         Yield: 800 kt

This test successfully pushed the yield  higher than previous tests, achieving a yield-to-weight ratio of 3.48 kt/kg.  The mushroom cloud rose to 65,000 feet.

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Test: Dulce                 Time: 16:00 17 June 1962 (GMT)                 Location: South of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 9,090 Feet         Yield: 52 kt

The mushroom cloud rose to 58,000 feet.

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Test: Petit                 Time: 15:01 19 June 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 17 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 14,995 Feet         Yield: 2.2 kt

This was an advanced concepts test. It was a fizzle, the secondary stage did not ignite. This was the second fizzle of Dominic. The mushroom cloud rose to 20-24,000 feet.

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Test: Otowi                 Time: 16:00 22 June 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 10 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 9,010 Feet         Yield: 81.5 kt

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Test: Bighorn                 Time: 15:19 27 June 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 30 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 11,810 Feet         Yield: 7650 kt

This was an advanced concepts test geared toward increasing thermonuclear yield-to-weight ratios. The test was successful, it produced the second largest yield of any Dominic shot and was the largest to date.  The mushroom cloud rose to 75,000 feet.

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Test: Bluestone                 Time: 15:21 30 June 1962 (GMT)                 Location: 17 Mi. S of Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 4,980 Feet         Yield: 1270 kt

The device was dropped by a new SAC crew on its first drop mission. This test was very successful, achieving the full design yield.  The mushroom cloud rose to 58,000 feet.

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Test: Sunset                 Time: 16:33 10 July 1962 (GMT)                 Location: Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 5,000 Feet         Yield: 1000 kt

The mushroom cloud rose to over 60,000 feet.

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Test: Pamlico                 Time: 15:37 11 July 1962 (GMT)                 Location: Christmas Island

Test Height and Type: B-52 Airdrop; 14,330 Feet         Yield: 3880 kt

This was the last Christmas island airdrop, and the third largest test of Operation Dominic. 

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 (E-mail: jane@janeresture.com -- Rev. 28th July 2008)