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spirit warrior of the mist man
Published on 15 Jun 2021 / In Technology

“Operation Ivy” cold opens with an address by President Dwight D. Eisenhower discussing the rapid advancement of the Atomic Age. A scroll at mark 00:45 then details how the Federal Civil Defense Administration “firmly believes it is necessary for the American public to know the facts about the destructiveness of nuclear weapons” and leading to the “public issuance … a non-secret portion of a secret film” that takes the viewer to the Pacific Proving Ground “to witness an important test conducted in late 1952 involving an experimental thermo-nuclear or ‘hydrogen’ detonation.” (Operation Ivy was the eighth series of American nuclear tests. The two explosions were staged in late 1952 at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands.) Mark 02:10 takes us aboard the USS Estes (AGC-12), the command ship on Joint Task Force 132 which was used to transport high-ranking officials to the Marshall Islands. For several minutes, there are numerous scenes as naval personnel prepare for the detonation of “Mike” — the codename given to the first test of a full-scale thermonuclear device — including how information will be gathered. At mark 10:30 the film offers an aerial view of the three main atolls of the test site, including Elugelab on Enewetak Atoll, with first test was conducted. Officers and enlisted personnel continue their preparations at mark 11:35, until finally at mark 17:10 detonation occurs and a blinding explosion fills the screen. Dramatic music plays in the background as the sky turns orange and a mushroom cloud forms and lifts its way into the sky. Helicopters approach Ground Zero at mark 19:50 and examine the nearby area — though Elugelab has been erased. At mark 20:48 the film replays the explosion as the narrator carefully details the blast from the initial fireball (3-1/4 miles in diameter at one point) and the mushroom cloud (mark 21:28), accompanied by an animated explanation. Val Peterson, director of the Civil Defense Administration, addresses the audience starting at mark 23:53 as he talks the event we just saw, on that could impact “the future of humanity.”

Ivy Mike was the codename given to the first test of a full-scale thermonuclear device, in which part of the explosive yield comes from nuclear fusion. It was detonated on November 1, 1952 by the United States on the island of Elugelab in Enewetak Atoll, in the Pacific Ocean, as part of Operation Ivy. It was the first full test of the Teller–Ulam design, a staged fusion device.

Due to its physical size and fusion fuel type (cryogenic liquid deuterium), the Mike device was not suitable for use as a deliverable weapon; it was intended as an extremely conservative proof of concept experiment to validate the concepts used for multi-megaton detonations. A simplified and lightened bomb version (the EC-16) was prepared and scheduled to be tested in operation Castle Yankee, as a backup in case the non-cryogenic "Shrimp" fusion device (tested in Castle Bravo) failed to work; that test was cancelled when the Bravo device was tested successfully, making the cryogenic designs obsolete.

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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit

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