Documentary (1954) 39 minutes ~ Color
The United States Department of Energy, in cooperation with the Department of Defense, has declassified a series of historical films on the nuclear weapons program.
This documentary deals with the Operation Castle, a series of high-energy (high-yield) hydrogen / nuclear tests by Joint Task Force SEVEN (JTF-7) at Bikini Atoll beginning in March 1954. It followed Operation Upshot-Knothole and preceded Operation Teapot.
Conducted as a joint venture between the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the Department of Defense (DoD), the ultimate objective of the operation was to test designs for an aircraft-deliverable thermonuclear weapon.
Operation Castle was considered by government officials to be a success as it proved the feasibility of deployable “dry fuel” designs for thermonuclear weapons. There were technical difficulties with some of the tests: one device had a yield much lower than its predicted yield (a “fizzle”), while two other devices detonated with over twice their predicted yields. One test in particular, Castle Bravo, resulted in extensive radiological contamination of nearby islands (including inhabitants and U.S. soldiers stationed there), as well as a nearby Japanese fishing boat (Daigo Fukuryū Maru), resulting in one direct fatality and continued health problems for many of those exposed. Public reaction to the tests and an awareness of the long-range effects of nuclear fallout has been attributed as being part of the motivation for the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963.