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ISSUE 38 - October 2008
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By Sergei N. Stepanenko, Contributing Editor
St. Petersburg, Russia

Commander Major Andrei E. Durnovtsev and his crew of 8 had, under their unlimited control for a period of 2 hours and 03 minutes, the most powerful weapon in the history of the mankind.

Major Andrei E. Durnovtsev’

On a dark gloomy morning of October 30 in 1961, at 9.27 AM, their TU-95V “Bear” took off from “Olenya” (“Deer's”), a top secret airbase hidden in the tundra of the Kola Peninsula. They followed a route to the Mityushikha Bay test range located on Novaya Zemlya Island in north-west Russia. Under the “Bear's” belly, partially recessed within the plane, half protruding into the airstream, they carried a huge bomb. This was a 50 megaton ton nuclear weapon. 26 ft long, 7 ft in diameter, it weighed 57,320 lb. and was the equivalent of 50 million tons of TNT. It was as large as any nuclear weapon ever built, before or since.

TU-95V “Bear A”

Arriving over the test site two hours later, they released the bomb at 11.30AM from an altitude of 34680 ft.

The Release

A parachute retarded it's descent down to an altitude of 13120 ft where it detonated at 11.32. The effects were spectacular.

Close Up of Tsar Drop

A vast fireball reached the Earth and swelled upward nearly back to the height of the Bear. The blast pressure below the burst point reached 300 PSI, six times the peak pressure experienced at Hiroshima. The flash of light was so bright as to be visible at a distance of 1,000 kilometers. Even at a distance of 270 km., through dark goggles, participating observers saw a bright flash and felt the effects of the thermal pulse. A shock wave was observed at Dickson Settlement 700 km from the blast; windowpanes were broken to distances of 900 km. All buildings, both wooden and brick, within 55 km were completely destroyed. In districts hundreds of kilometers from ground zero, wooden houses were destroyed and stone structures lost their roofs, windows and doors. Radio communications were interrupted for almost an hour. The atmospheric disturbance generated by the explosion orbited the earth three times. A gigantic mushroom cloud rose to 210,000 ft. One cameraman recalled the spectacle as fantastic, unreal, supernatural. Original U.S. estimates put its yield at 57 megatons.

The Blast

Major Durnovtsev was immediately promoted to lieutenant colonel and made Hero of the Soviet Union. The entire crew received numerous rewards and promotions and each crewmember received an automobile, presented by the Soviet Government.

Lieutenant Colonel Durnovtsev retired to Kiev,The Ukraine in 1965, and died in October 1976, at the age of 53.

Lieutenant Colonel Durnovtsev

By Sergei N. Stepanenko
Contributing Editor

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