The Most Powerful Weapon The World Has Ever Known: The Tsar Bomba

During World War II the competition to develop the most lethal weapons and the most powerful aircraft swept the nations. The U.S. started researching possibilities of using uranium-235 isotope – for making a powerful bomb.


The first atomic bomb was part of the Manhattan Project that was tested on July 16, 1945, in a remote section of New Mexico.

After the end of World War II the relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union worsened. The countries began the so-called ‘nuclear arms race’ where they were competing for supremacy in nuclear warfare.

This competition led to the creation of a giant 50 Megaton bomb called Tsar Bomba by the Soviet Union.

The Tsar Bomba was a three-stage bomb equivalent to 50-megatons of TNT and variously known as RDS-220, code-name Vanya, Big Ivan, and Project 7000. It was developed by a four-man team – Victor Adamskii, Yuri Babaev, Yuri Smirnov, and Yuri Trutnev. Detonated on 1961 off the island of Novaya Zemlya, well within the Arctic Circle, this monster of a bomb is still the most powerful weapon ever discharged.

The blast was so strong that was equal to 3,800 of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima.

The massive bomb weighed 27 tons and was 8 meters long. In order to transport the bomb to the testing place the engineers had to modify the release plane, they cut off the plane’s bomb-bay doors so it can fit in. Even the paint of the plane was left white on purpose, to avoid any heat damage. The technicians also fitted an 800-kilogram parachute to the bomb that gave the release and observer planes time to fly further away from ground zero. Still, the shockwave nearly killed the pilots.

The bomb exploded at an altitude of 4,200 meters. The unparalleled blast was supposed to reach 51.5 megatons. At the end, its strength was calculated at between 57 and 58.6 megatons.

The result was horrifying as the fireball reached a radius of nearly 8 kilometers and height of 64 kilometers. People could see the light coming from the reaction from over 100 kilometers away while the force of the bomb explosion registered a 5.0 on the Richter scale.

Model of the “Tsar Bomba” in the Sarov atomic bomb museum. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

According to a project of nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein called NukeMap if Tsar Bomba was dropped in Central Park, Manhattan, more than 8 million people would die in the first 24 hours, and nearly 7 million would be injured.

This nuclear bomb remains the most powerful weapon ever detonated in history.

Footage of the detonation can be seen below, as part of an episode of The History Channel’s “Modern Marvels.”

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