A record of the preparation of the test site for the British nuclear bomb tests in the Pacific in 1957, with emphasis on the scale of the operation and the speed of its execution.
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In August 1945 atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hastening the end of the Second World War and heralding the birth of the atomic age.
International attempts to control the development of nuclear technology quickly stalled, leading to a race between the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France to develop their own nuclear weapons. These countries adopted a policy of nuclear deterrence, using the threat of massive retaliation to prevent a nuclear attack by an enemy.
The McMahon Act of 1946 prevented Britain from co-operating with the United States on nuclear research and development, yet Britain has been a major player in the atomic age, conducting its own atomic weapons testing programme and opening the world’s first commercial nuclear power station at Calder Hall in Cumbria in 1956.
Although many view the atomic age positively, others such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament view atomic technology as a threat to the world’s future and have been protesting against its development and use since the late 1950s.
Atomic bomb, code-named 'Fat Man', which was dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945. On 9 August 1945, three days after the first operational atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima, a second bomb was dropped by parachute from an American B29 bomber on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. It weighed just over 4,000 kg and had the explosive power of 22 kilotons of TNT. Seventy-five thousand people were killed and the same number injured. Thousands more died subsequently from the after-effects of radiation.
British hydrogen bomb test at Christmas Island, 1962. Tests of hydrogen bombs took place at Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean between 1956 and 1958 under the code name Operation 'Grapple'. Hydrogen bombs were more powerful than the earlier plutonium bombs which devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
HMS Repulse underway in the Clyde, heading towards the Royal Navy’s base at Faslane, 1996. Launched in 1967, HMS Repulse was a Resolution-class ballistic missile equipped, nuclear powered submarine (SSBN). This photograph was taken in 1996, shortly before it was decommissioned. Faslane (HM Royal Naval Base Clyde) remains the base for the UK’s submarine fleet, including the Vanguard-class (which are equipped with Trident missiles). The presence of these nuclear weapons makes the base a target for anti-nuclear protesters, who have established a peace camp outside its gates.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain all continued to develop nuclear weapons. Public anxiety about the use of these weapons grew and in 1958 the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was founded to campaign for 'unilateral nuclear disarmament'. This poster was designed for CND by graphic artist Frederic Henri Kay Henrion in the early 1960s. The distinctive CND symbol is visible in the lower left corner.
HMS Resolution, Britain’s first Polaris submarine, was launched at Barrow-in-Furness in September 1966. The development of the Resolution-class submarines, which also included Renown and Revenge, marked the transfer of responsibility for Britain’s nuclear deterrent to the Navy from the Royal Air Force.