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Release Date 1953
Sponsor Central Office of Information for Ministry of Supply
Text version of Operation Hurricane
Text version of The Countdown
Text version of Final Explosion
The explosion of the first British bomb
British scientists had been heavily involved in the US wartime Manhattan Project to develop a nuclear weapon. After the war, the United States, keen to maintain its monopoly of A-bomb weaponry and concerned about intelligence leaks, ended all nuclear co-operation with the British. As a consequence the Labour government authorised the development of a British bomb using the scientists that had been involved in the wartime research.
One aim of building a British bomb was to maintain the United Kingdom’s influence in the world: a world in which the United States had the only such arsenal and the Soviet Union controlled most of Eastern Europe with the continent’s largest army.
The explosion of the first Soviet bomb in 1949 seemed to justify the decision by the British to develop such a weapon. Three years later, the British detonated their first bomb in ‘Operation Hurricane’ on the Australian island of Trimoulle, part of the Monte Bello island group.
The warhead, exploded from the old British frigate HMS Plym, used British and Canadian plutonium. This was later developed into the ‘Blue Danube’ weapon carried on the active British nuclear force of RAF ‘V-bombers’.
The decision to use the Monte Bellos as a test site, the treatment of aborigines in the area and compensation for those involved in the tests was explored by an Australian Royal Commission in 1986 [these records can be found in AB 40 in The National Archives’ catalogue].
This film highlights the technological achievements of the group of British and émigré scientists involved.
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