RDS-1

RDS-1

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RDS-1

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The RDS-1 (), also known as First Lightning (, Pervaya molniya), was the Soviet Union's first nuclear weapon test. In the west, it was code-named Joe-1, in reference to Joseph Stalin. It was test-exploded on 29 August 1949, at Semipalatinsk, Kazakh SSR, after a top-secret R&D project. The weapon was designed at the Kurchatov Institute—at the time officially known as "Laboratory № 2," but designated as the "office" or "base" in internal documents—starting in April 1946. A uranium-235 plant was built near Chelyabinsk in 1948.

The RDS-1 explosion yielded 22 kilotons of TNT, similar to the American Gadget and Fat Man bombs. At Lavrenty Beria's insistence, the RDS-1 bomb was designed after the Fat Man bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. Like Fat Man, it was an implosion type weapon with a solid plutonium core. The bomb designers had developed a more sophisticated design (tested later as RDS-2), but the "Fat Man" bomb was used for its known reliability. The USSR had received extensive espionage on the design of the "Fat Man" bomb during World War II (see atomic spies).

In order to test the effects of the new weapon, workers constructed houses made of wood and bricks, along with a bridge, and a simulated metro in the vicinity of the test site. Armor hardware and approximately 50 aircraft were also brought to the testing grounds, as well as over...
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