THE BRITISH ATOMIC TRIALS AT MARALINGA 1956 (Operation Buffalo) [Main Title]

Catalogue number
  • DRA 4794
Place made
Subject period
  • whole: Number Of Items/reels/tapes 1


Object description

A report from the army's perspective of Operation Buffalo, a series of four British atomic bomb blasts in the Australian desert.

Physical description


Full description

The film shows the test site prior to the first blast with a number of weapons (25 pounder guns, L70 light anti-aircraft guns), Centurion tanks, vehicles, dummies (both fully articulated to simulate actual troops and tailor's dummies to test types of uniforms), Swift aircraft, ammunition, signal equipment and buildings all set out at various distances up to two miles from the tower holding the bomb. At the spectators' ("indoctrinees") stand five miles from ground zero, several shots show the flash from the explosion followed by the audience turning round to look at "this wonderful sight". The mushroom cloud slowly drifts off (the wind is "just right to carry the fallout across Australia"). The film then shows the effects on the equipment in the target area. A group of observers are first shown returning from a two hour tour of the area and being undressed and showered; final monitoring of any personal contamination is carried out by the Atomic Energy Research Establishment's health control team. The bits of hardware in the area are checked and cleaned and where possible operated - the tanks are driven off only slightly battered and put into position with spectators inside 2000 yards from the ground zero of the next test, a ground burst. Again, views of the detonation from the observers area are shown. Here, there is a much dirtier and more heavily contaminated cloud with heavy fallout. Aerial views of the crater are shown. The third test is a night-time burst ("a fantastic sight"), and the fourth is an airburst drop from a Valiant aircraft. In this last, there is very little wind and much of the fallout comes straight back down over the target area. The commentary points out that all the bombs were tactical weapons as might be used on a battlefield.

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