10 Facts – The Tsar Bomba – the Biggest Bomb The World Has Ever Seen

5. Parachute

As stated, the bomb almost knocked the plane that dropped it out of the sky. This is due to a multitude of factors including the fireball, mushroom cloud, seismic waves and more. The Soviets had planned for this situation, estimating that the pilots and crew on-board the plane only had a 50 percent chance at survival. Because of this, one of the ways the Soviets came up with to allow more time for the plane to get away from the area, was to attach a parachute to the device. This was mildly successful, as the plane was able to get out of the area, but not far enough away to completely avoid the effects of the blast (the plane made it an estimated 26 miles away). When the effects of the blast struck the plane, it instantly fell 3,000 feet.

6. Big Ivan or Tsar Bomba?

Both. Tsar Bomba was nicknamed Big Ivan, as well as a slew of other names like Project 7000, Product Code 202 and more. The bomb derived its primary name, Tsar Bomba, from other Soviet weaponry such as the Tsar Cannon and the Tsar Bell. The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had their own codename for the test, “Joe 111.”

7. It Was Too Big

The bomb was essentially built to flex the Soviet Union’s military strength. Because of this, the bomb was so huge that it was basically too huge. What does this mean? It means that it wasn’t practical for wartime use. For one, moving the bomb around was simply too complicated. It didn’t even really fit on the jet that dropped it from the sky; that plane had to be heavily modified for the bomb. Second, the crew on the plane only had a 50% chance at survival. All of this comes even after the bomb was scaled down from its original 100 megaton size.

8. Quick Build

You would think a bomb of this stature would be built over several years. After all, it’s the largest explosive ever developed and detonated by mankind. This is not so. Incredibly, the device was made in just a few months. Reports vary on the exact length of time, but the general consensus is that it only took 14-16 weeks to design and construct the bomb. 14-16 weeks. That is only three to four months!

9. Tu-95

Tu-95 seen in flight. The version used for the test was a Tu-95V. Wikipedia / Public Domain

Tu-95 seen in flight.

Tsar Bomba was to be dropped in the sky from a Tu-95. The only issue? It couldn’t exactly fit the massive bomb. Weighing in at 27 metric tons (or about 60,000 pounds), the bomb was over 26 feet long and about seven feet in diameter. Because of this, the Tu095 that was equipped with the bomb had to have its bomb doors removed, as well as its fuselage fuel tanks.

10. Fast Facts

  • More powerful than all the bombs exploded in WW2, combined
  • 1,400 times more powerful than the nuclear bombs detonated over Nagasaki and Hiroshima
  • Shockwave from the bomb raced around the world three times, and shattered windows in Finland; 500+miles away
  • The Tu-95 used was painted in reflective white paint, to hopefully
    aid in deflecting the heat
  • Total destruction (as it sounds, everything in the radius is destroyed) radius for the bomb was estimated between 22-34 miles

The Tsar Bomba has left a lasting legacy on nuclear technology. Only one of these bombs was fully built and tested. But there were several casings made for several bombs, should more have been made. Today, those interested can check out these casings at two museums, the Russian Atomic Weapon Museum and the Museum of Nuclear Weapons, All-Russian Research Institute of Technical Physics.

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That is one scary bomb!