On This Day: Watch the biggest nuclear bomb blast of all time

·2-min read

This article is part of Yahoo's 'On This Day' series

On this day 60 years ago, the biggest bomb in history was detonated over an island in the Russian Arctic Sea.

The Soviet 'Tsar Bomba', detonated on 30 October 1961, was the largest nuclear weapon ever constructed, with the power of about 3,800 Hiroshima bombs.

The test, which took place over Novaya Zemlya Island, came amid rising tensions between the US and Soviet Union.

Officially called RDS-220 hydrogen bomb, the Tsar Bomba was given its nickname by the West to run alongside two other huge Russian creations, the Tsar Bell and the Tsar Cannon, both the largest of their kind in the world.

The enormous blast radius from the Tsar Bomba explosion
The enormous blast radius from the Tsar Bomba explosion.
Sarov. Nizhny Novgorod region. Russia. The Russian Atomic Weapon Museum, Sarov (Arzamas-16). The Tsar Bomba, the largest and most powerful nuclear weapon detonated in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. Photo ITAR-TASS / Roman Yarovitsin   (Photo by TASS via Getty Images)
The Tsar Bomba, the biggest nuclear bomb ever made, was detonated on this day in 1961. (Getty)

Its development was ordered in July 1961 by Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, who wanted a 100 megaton weapon.

The Tsar Bomba used an extra stage compared to other nuclear warheads, increasing its explosive power, but Soviet engineers actually reduced its yield to 50 megatons to limit fallout. 

On the morning of 30 October 1961, a Soviet Tu-95 bomber took off from Olenya airfield in the far north of Russia carrying the bomb.

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It was too big to fit inside the aircraft's bomb bay and had to be carried underneath.

It was carried to the island and deployed by a giant parachute, allowing it to slowly drift to a certain height in the hope that the plane that carried it and another accompanying bomber could make it to safety. 

The huge mushroom cloud which erupted from the explosion, which took place six decades ago today (Cover Media)
The huge mushroom cloud which erupted from the explosion, which took place six decades ago. (Cover Media)
The Tsar Bomba was detonated over the island of Novaya Zemlya. (Getty)
The Tsar Bomba was detonated over the island of Novaya Zemlya. (Getty)

The bomb detonated 4km above the ground at 11.32am Moscow time.

It created a fireball 8km wide and a mushroom cloud 60m high and a seismic shockwave equivalent to 5.0 on the Richter scale. 

The bomb caused catastrophic effects on Novaya Zemlya, destroying houses across the island.

Its power is widely agreed to have been around 57 megatons, with its blast wave orbiting the Earth three times.

However, despite its power the Tsar Bomba was actually never deployed, as it could not be delivered via ballistic missile so was impractical, but it remained a display of Soviet Superiority. 

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