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British nuclear test Operation Hurricane – secret reports to Winston Churchill and civil defense data obtained

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British nuclear test Operation Hurricane – secret reports to Winston Churchill and civil defense data obtained
Original Title British nuclear test Operation Hurricane – secret reports to Winston Churchill and civil defense data obtained
Author Nigel B. Cook
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Topics Nuclear weapons, civil defence, civil defense, Operation Hurricane, fallout, radiation, Winston Churchill, Churchill, Clement Attlee, Attlee, William Penney, Lord Penney, Penney, AWRE, Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, Atomic Weapons Establishment, AWE, Monte Bello, HMS Plym, chemical warfare, Morrison Shelter, Anderson Shelter, Air raids, Blitz, , genealogy
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Language English
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British nuclear test Operation Hurricane – secret reports to Winston Churchill and the vital civil defense data it yielded during the Cold War.

Originally Top Secret reports on the first British nuclear test (a simulated subversive Russian nuclear attack on the Port of London using an atomic bomb detonated inside a ship in the Monte Bello islands). Includes reports to Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the fallout, thermal, blast radiation, ground shock, water shock, and cratering effects, the decontamination of the fallout, the uptake of radioactivity in food crops, etc.


Page numbers of the PDF document:

1. Hansard, House of Commons, 4 February 1983. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher refused the request of Frank Allaun to release the top secret report on the results of Britain’s first nuclear test in 1952 (Operation Hurricane), citing section 3(4) of the Public Records Act 1958, stating: “The material is still sensitive and it is not yet appropriate to release it.”

2. U.K. National Archives document PREM 11/563: Dr William Penney’s statement on the Hurricane nuclear test states: “The Civil Defence authorities in this country badly needed more data about atomic explosions and, accordingly, the test was planned to get as much novel information as possible for Civil Defence. The decision was made to explode the weapon in a ship moored near land, thus simulating an explosion in a port. … The experiment went according to plan and the scientific records were complete. We know what happened and we can give to the Civil Defence authorities an accurate description …”

3. U.K. National Archives document PREM 11/563: Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s statement: “The object of the test was to investigate the effects of an atomic explosion in a harbour. … Specimen structures of importance to civil defence … were erected at various distances.”

4. U.K. National Archives document PREM 11/560: Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s concerns over the smuggling of nuclear weapons inside Russian cargo freighters. Includes a copy of the Top Secret report called “Clandestine Use of Atomic Weapons”, written by Sir Norman Brook for Prime Minister Clement Attlee on 12 July 1951 and communicated to Prime Minister Winston Churchill on 28 March 1952, before Britain’s Hurricane nuclear test of 3 October 1952. Churchill requested a further review of this nuclear threat when the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on 27 February 1953 (page 7) that the American Coast Guard had since 1951 searched 1,500 Iron Curtain-originating “vessels approaching ports such as New York for atomic bombs, other types of explosive and bacteriological weapons”. (This threat of smuggled atomic bombs is the theme of a Frederick Forsyth novel and film, called “The Fourth Protocol”.)

12. U.K. National Archives document PREM 11/565: report to Prime Minister Winston Churchill dated 28 January 1953, from Churchill’s science adviser Lord Cherwell, listing the events which led to the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, “Events leading to the use of the atomic bomb, 1945.” Cherwell points out that Churchill refused to have a Cabinet discussion on nuclear weapons on 21 March 1944 after a request from Sir John Anderson (Britain had sent physicists including the neutron discoverer James Chadwick, blast mathematical physicists William Penney and Geoffrey I. Taylor, and unfortunately the notorious communist spy Klaus Fuchs to Los Alamos in New Mexico to help the nuclear bombing of Japan). Cherwell concludes his account: “As you know it has now ben proved that the Japanese asked the Russians to convey an offer accepting the Ptosdam terms of unconditional surrender to the Allies on August 2. The Russians did not pass on this message. Had they done so, it might well be that the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would not have been dropped. … In retrospect it seems unlikely that the atom bombardment could have forced the Japanese to surrender before the planned invasion of the Home Islands in November 1945, had they not – unknown to us – been already at the point of collapse. For the Americans could not have dropped much more than two bombs a month for the rest of the year. But of course the Japanese did not know this.”

18. U.K. National Archives document ES 5/3: Operation Hurricane, Top Secret Section of Director’s Report, 27 August 1954. The fallout pattern from Operation Hurricane was more intensely radioactive than that for the American “Crossroads-Baker” underwater nuclear test at Bikini Atoll on 25 July 1946, which had been published in Samuel Glasstone’s 1950 book, “The Effects of Atomic Weapons”. This fallout radiation data was classified “Top Secret – Guard” by Britain, and was issued by the U.K. Ministry of Defence in a typeset and printed report separately from the main typeset and printed report (AWRE-T1/43, U.K. National Archives report ES 5/2) which was at a lower classification, just “Secret – Guard”. The point of this secrecy over fallout radiation was that it prevented the civil defence data from Operation Hurricane from being published in the unclassified civil defence handbooks on fallout protection which the CND brainwashed media “ridiculed” for allegedly being guesswork. It was not guesswork, instead the fallout data was Top Secret.

The fallout pattern for Operation Hurricane shown on page 21 of this PDF compilation of declassified documents is from the original report but is very slightly modified: it has the detonation-time wind pattern data table added to it for civil defence use (historians beware: we are interested in civil defence against nuclear terrorism, so minor updates are made where strictly vital). This table is taken from the declassified secret American report by Manfried Morgenthau and Richard L. Showers of the U.S. Army’s Nuclear Defense Laboratory, “Supplement – Foreign Nuclear Tests”, 77 pages, October 1964, DASA 1251 (AD 358417L). Note that the cloud top was at 10,000 feet above sea level, so winds above that altitude are irrelevant from the standpoint of the wind influence on fallout descent. The original wind pattern printed on the 1954 British report Hurricane fallout pattern is identical to that on the map still included in this PDF compilation showing the Monte Bello islands on page 25 of this PDF upload, but that wind pattern is not correct, because it is for winds measured by weather balloon one hour before the detonation. The reason for the wind pattern change between the 1954 British report and the later American compilation is pretty obvious: the winds for the Hurricane test shifted between the last meteorological balloon sounding, which occurred one hour before detonation, shifted before the explosion. So you need to interpolate between the wind data before and after the explosion to get the true winds at explosion time! Obviously, you can’t send up a balloon when the detonation actually occurs, or it will be blasted by the explosion or lost in the mushroom cloud. The revised table of wind data apply to detonation time itself, not to 1 hour before detonation. Note also that there is another lengthy British report on the effects of Hurricane fallout on plants and life, written by Robert Scott-Russell, H. M. Squire, R. P. Martin (University of Oxford), “The effects of Operation Hurricane on plants and soils,” report SPAR-3, 74 pages, 1955, which located in the U.K. National Archives, reference AB 15/4785, abstract: “A study was made of the effects of radioactive fallout from a shallow underwater burst of an atomic bomb at Monte Bello, Australia. Samples were collected 14 months after the test. The study included measurements of fission products found, the leaching of fission products in soils, contamination of plants and absorption of various fission products by cereals and cabbages.” See also: U.K. National Archives, DEFE 16/876, “Effects of Operation Hurricane on plants and soils, equipment for Well crystal iodine spectrometer, iodine uptake in sheep and thyroids and programme of work”, while the great recovery of the Monte Bello islands today photographed at the site and see the Imperial War Museum film of Operation Hurricane which is online at and the U.K. National Archives film online at .)

22. U.K. National Archives document ES 5/2: Atomic Weapons Research Establishment report on Operation Hurricane, AWRE-T1/54, “Secret Guard” (regraded Secret on 10 January 1961). This report gives a summary of results from Operation Hurricane: fireball eruption from the ship HMS Plym, fireball rise, expansion, eruption of crater throwout and water spray from fireball at about 0.1 second after burst, water falling from base of mushroom cloud at 65 feet per second at 30 seconds after burst, reaching water surface at 1 minute after burst. Graph and equation for blast overpressure versus distance, blast duration curve, percentage of initial nuclear radiation dose received versus time after detonation, initial gamma flash dose versus distance, thermal radiation emission versus time curve (the total thermal yield output or “partition” for 25 kt Operation Hurricane was only 1.4%, due to the effect of the water rapidly cooling the fireball surface during the second thermal pulse from 0.1 second after burst), fireball radiating temperature curve, fallout decay curve, airborne contamination and inhalation of fallout versus external exposure to gamma radiation from deposited fallout (for every 1 R of gamma exposure due to deposited fallout, 0.87 microcuries of fallout radioactivity was inhaled outdoors without a gas mask), underwater shock pressures, crater, ground shock accelerations and displacements, blast damage to fifteen World War II British Anderson shelters (a corrugated steel arch covered with soil or sandbags) and concrete structures, gamma radiation doses in trenches, Anderson shelters and concrete structures, decontamination of fallout contaminated clothing, skin, equipment, food, and the uptake of fallout radioactivity from soil by plants, fallout solubility (60%), iodine-131 uptake by the thyroid gland.

63. Atomic Weapons Research Establishment U.K. National Archives document ES 5/1 (AWRE-T1/53), Hurricane data, Top Secret, May 1953. Discussing the Anderson shelters, it states: “Civil Defence authorities consider that there might have been some 50% survival from blast damage of personnel in shelters at 460 yards and some 90% at 600 yards … At 920 and 1,130 yards there would have been no casualties from blast, and incidentally, little risk from the effect of gamma flash”, although more earth cover would be needed to attenuate the nuclear radiation. Note that the British Home Office Scientific Advisory Branch scientific team leaders who went to Monte Bellow to measure the blast and fallout effects for civil defence were the highly competent physicists George R. Stanbury and Frank H. Pavry, who had personally been in the 1945 British Mission to Japan, assessing the damage to air raid shelters at both the nuclear bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Stanbury personally wrote a “Restricted” classified version (which could be released to anyone in the Civil Defence Corp on the understanding it would not be published in a newspaper or book) of the “Top Secret” classified Hurricane fallout report for civil defence planners, called “Assumed effects of two atomic bomb explosions in shallow water off the port of Liverpool”, report CD/SA 51, 1954, U.K. National Archives document HO 225/51. There are also many other similar reports by Stanbury and Pavry in the HO files at the National Archives, proving clearly how this British nuclear weapons trial information on fallout and shelters influenced the production of the British civil defence handbooks! See also the British civil defence research on fallout solubility and uptake after a land surface burst at the 1956 Operation Buffalo, shot Buffalo-2: John Freeman Loutit and Robert Scott Russell, “Operation Buffalo, Part 5, The entry of fission products into food chains”, Atomic Weapons Research Establishment report AWRE-T57/58, May 1959.

Table 27 in that Buffalo test report (AWRE-T57/58) shows that the water solubility of Buffalo-1 fallout was 80% for strontium nuclides (-89, -90, etc.) and iodine nuclides (-131, -132, -133, -135), 40% for Ba/La-140, 35% for Te-132 and Mo-99, 5% for Zr/Nb-95, and only 3% for Ru/Rh-103. Thus “solubility” depends entirely upon the nuclide involved. It is therefore misleading to quote a percentage solubility figure without saying which nuclide is referred to.

The percentage solubility in water of the “overall” beta or gamma activity will obviously vary with time after burst, due to the changing composition of the fission product activity, because the soluble nuclides with a short half life (like iodine-131) will predominate in fallout soon after the explosion, but will not be present a few months later when the radioactivity is contributed mainly by relatively insoluble metal oxides like Zr-95, Nb-95, etc. Maralinga has silicate topsoil which produced glass-type (Nevada like) fallout particles for the Buffalo-1 tower burst where fallout was formed of afterwind swept-up surface dust, but the calcium carbonate substrata produced flaky Bikini-type calcium oxide fallout for the Buffalo-2 surface burst where the crater extended beneath the surface.

The report shows that a total of 15% of the Buffalo-2 fallout was retained by pasture grass, mainly in the stem base, and rain following the fallout smeared the rass leaves with a coating of calcium oxide fallout. Table 15 in the report shows that threshing wheat after Buffalo-2 left 90% of the fallout on the chaff and only 10% on grain, and the authors spell out these implications plainly:

“At a dose rate of 50 R/hr at 1 hour, 80 kg of flour would contain only 0.06 microcurie of Strontium-90. … The hazards arising from the consumption of contaminated flour appear therefore to be smaller by a factor of more than a thousand than those arising from milk.”

Therefore, limiting fallout contaminated milk consumption for a month after a nuclear explosion is an adequate countermeasure for ingested fallout, while the iodine-131 decays. Contaminated milk need not be wasted: it can be frozen, powdered, or processed into cheese or ice-cream that can be stored for a month while iodine-131 decays with its 8 days half-life, during storage.

Alternatively, cattle can be kept in barns on winter fodder while the iodine-131 decays on fields outdoors. Temperature has no effect on radioactive decay, so it is safe to freeze radioactive fallout contaminated food while it undergoes rapid radioactive decay. Fallout uptake by the roots is relatively small and was well investigated in American nuclear tests.

Robert Scott Russell of the Agricultural Research Council, Radiobiological Laboratory, England, wrote an interesting paper called “The Extent and Consequences of the Uptake by Plants of Radioactive Nuclides” which was published in the Annual Review of Plant Physiology, volume 14 (June 1963), pages 271-294:

“Iodine-131 is … of concern primarily as a source of exposure of infants who consume appreciable quantities of fresh milk, partly because of the very small size of their thyroid glands in which it is concentrated, and partly because milk is usually the most highly contaminated food. Doses to infants from iodine-131 have on occasions been considerably higher than those from any other component of fallout, for example, towards the end of 1961 it was estimated from the analysis of milk that the thyroid glands of infants fed on fresh milk in the United Kingdom would have received about 170 mrems. …

“Caesium-137 which was deposited on foliage of plants appears to be retained relatively similarly to strontium 90, and like strontium it is readily removed from foliage by rain [L. J. Middleton, Intern. J. Radiation Biol., 1, 387-402, 1959]. The concentration of caesium-137 within different tissues which results from direct contamination, however, can contrast very markedly with that caused by strontium-90. This is due to the mobility of caesium-137 within tissues, thus nearly 30% of the caesium-137 which has been deposited on the foliage of potatoes may reach the tubers, as compared with less than 1% of strontium-89 [L. J. Middleton and H. M. Squire, Agv. Res. Council Radio biological Lab., Report ARCRL 8, pp. 60-61, H. M., Stationery Office, London, 1962]. …

“Zinc-65, together with the induced activities, cobalt-59 and -60 and iron-55, has also been found to be the main source of radioactivity in fish and sea water soon after nuclear explosions [A. D. Welander, U. S. Atomic Energy Commission Report UWFL-55, 1958]. The low concentration of the carrier isotopes in water can cause these nuclides to be absorbed and concentrated to a spectacular extent in plants and animals.

“Plutonium. Because of its very long half life and high toxicity to animals consideration has been given to the entry into plants of the fissile element plutonium. A very slow rate of absorption is to be expected because it forms high valency (usually 4 or 6) ions, this has been confirmed in several studies and, over 1.5 years, grass grown in pot culture may absorb less than 0.0001% of that added to the soil [L. Jacobson and R. Overstreet, Soil Sci., 65, 129-34, 1948, and P. Newbould and E. R. Mercer, Agr. Res. Council Radiobiological Lab., Report ARCRL 8, 81-82, H. M. Stationery Office, London, 1962].”

67. U.S. Atomic Energy Commission report on the Effects of High-Yield Nuclear Detonations, 15 February 1955. Explains how simple it is to protect against nuclear radiation from fallout, and that the fishermen and Rongelap islanders took no precautions when seeing fallout on 1 March 1954, causing their illness.

77. U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, “Cue for Survival,” May 3 1955, contains an article by Harold L. Goodwin on “The Effects of Nuclear Weapons”, explaining that “The concept of duck and cover … is based on the comparatively large time interval between the burst and arrival of the shock wave…”, which is impossible for non-nuclear weapons where the blast effects radius is so small that the flash-to-bang time is negligible. Thus, it is impossible for most people to take much evasive action in the high pressure region of an ordinary non-nuclear explosion, but it is easy for most people to do so in the event of the bigger blast yield of a nuclear explosion which gives a long flash-to-bang time for the majority of the area of damage. (People a mile from ground zero in Hiroshima had over four seconds to duck and cover, to avoid flying glass. They were hurt because they were taken by surprise. This is precisely why “cynical” or lying anti-civil defence propaganda which attacks duck and cover as useless is a plain lie that will cost many lives in a nuclear attack.) Also contains article on “Biomedical effects of thermal radiation” by Dr Herman Pearse, Professor of Surgery at Rochester University, who saw first-hand the burns to Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors and the heat flash protection by clothing both in those cities and at subsequent nuclear tests. He states: “Under 6 layers we only got about 50% first degree burns at 107 cal/cm^2”. This data are given in his report (included), and the 1957 edition of the Confidential U.S. Armed Forces Special Weapons Project manual, “Capabilities of Atomic Weapons” (included), which also correlates survival with house damage in both Japan and Britain, during nuclear and conventional bombing air raids. Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors were able to roll or beat the flames out from ignited dark clothing close to ground zero. The clothing was not soaked in gasoline prior to ignition, unlike the “examples” routinely used of peacetime automobile accident gasoline burns accident patients, in anti-nuclear propaganda. Clothing does make the bare skin thermal effects data in Glasstone’s book a gross exaggeration.

84. Morrison shelters in recent air raids. A 1942 U.K. Ministry of Home Security report showing that indoor Morrison table shelters saved the lives of 115 out of 119 people in 39 incidents where the house was destroyed by the bombing: “Of these only 7 were seriously injured and 14 slightly injured while 94 escaped uninjured. The majority were able to leave their shelters unaided.”

85. U.K. National Archives document CAB 67/9/7: 15 January 1941 Secret Cabinet report by Herbert Morrison recommending the indoor Morrison shelter.

86. U.K. National Archives document CAB 67/9/44: 5 May 1941 Most Secret Cabinet report on the effects of the London Blitz bombing, noting that framed buildings “are practically immune to anything but a direct hit”, that the number of deaths per bomb is 1/60 of the number of persons per acre, and that 1 ton of bombs on London destroys 10 houses, makes 25 temporarily inhabitable, and 80 slightly damaged, kills 6 people, wounds 25 people (“the greater part of them slightly”), and makes 35 people homeless.

87. U.K. National Archives document HO 225/12: “A Comparison between the number of people killed per tonne of bombs during World War I and World War II”. Notes that WWI bombs dropped on Britain (by airships and Gotha bombers) by Germany were mainly 12-50 kg, while WWII bombs dropped on Britain were mainly 150-200 kg (mean 175 kg). During the 13 June 1916 air raid on London, 69.5% of people were outdoors and were therefore highly vulnerable to the blast of the bombs. During WWII, only 5% of people in Britain were in the open during air raids (e.g. fire observers, firemen, police, etc.), 60% were under cover such as under tables in houses, and 35% were in shelters. Being in a house was 3.5 times safer than being in the open, being in a shelter was twice as safe as being in a house or 7 times as safe as being in the open.

88. Report of the British Mission to Japan, “The Effects of the Atomic Bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki”, gives photos of simple ordinary air raid shelters (of lower quality than British Anderson shelters) which survived intact near ground zero in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

90. U.K. National Archives document HO 225/116: Frank H. Pavry (member of the British Mission to Japan, who surveyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and also put up the Anderson shelters at Monte Bello for the Hurricane nuclear test in 1952), “Research on Blast Effects in Tunnels, with Special Reference to the Use of London Tubes as Shelter”, classified Restricted, 3 October 1963. Summarizes data from tests on a 1,000 feet long, 1/40th scale London Underground system exposure to a simulated nuclear explosion at Suffield, Alberta, on 3 August 1961. Pavry states that early fears of a nuclear fireball and cratering forcing blast into the tube tunnels are disproved by a number of experiments which show that the supersonic ground shock effect seals broken tunnels and prevents significant blast entry: “The more recent research here described showed for the first time that a person sheltering in a tube would be exposed to a blast pressure only 1/3 as great as he would be exposed to if he was above ground.” The maximum pressure in stations was only 1/6 of that above ground.

94. Samuel Glasstone, “The Effects of Nuclear Weapons”, June 1957, blast pressure and simple WWII type shelter protection data (30 psi is needed for a simple WWII shelter to begin to collapse, compared to 5 psi for a brick house).

104. Manual of Civil Defence, Volume 1, Pamphlet 1, Nuclear Weapons. Summarizes fire risks in modern concrete city buildings (as distinct from the wooden buildings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). Also gives fallout protection information (which was all deleted from the subsequent 1959 and 1974 editions): fallout “inner refuge” in houses and trench shelter protection factors.

112. Edward Schuert, “A Fallout Forecasting Technique with Results Obtained at the Eniwetok Proving Ground”, U.S. Naval Radiological Defense Lab., report USNRDL-TR-139, shows how simple weather balloon derived wind data (no electronic computers or satellites!) in 1956 allowed successful fallout hotline predictions during Operation Redwing at Bikini Atoll (Tests A, B, C and D are respectively the Tewa, Zuni, Flathead and Navajo nuclear surface burst tests). Schuert also points out that fallout forecasting at Bikini was made very difficult because testing in the the prevailing winds (which blow Eastwards, towards the inhabited Rongelap Atoll) was prohibited, so bombs had to be tested ONLY during the “unstable synoptic situation of rather short duration” when a passing weather front caused the winds to briefly blow fallout towards the north or west. (The same problem occurred at the Nevada test site, where the prevailing winds blew towards inhabited St George in Utah, or Las Vegas.) This explains why fallout predictions sometimes failed in the 1950s. This is not revelant to todays nuclear threats and the modern weather data collecting and prediction computer methods available today, which will allow good hotline predictions after a nuclear explosion.

118. W. B. Heidt, Jr, “Nature, intensity and distribution of fallout from Mike Shot”, USNRDL, report WT-615, April 1953. Gives photos of the 1 mm diameter (clearly visible) fallout grains which landed as a thick deposit upwind of the first 10 megaton H-bomb test at Eniwetok Atoll on 1 November 1952. Also gives a comparison between measured deposits of fallout and the predicted fallout pattern.

126. R. L. Steton, et al., “Operation Castle, Project 2.5a, Distribution and Intensity of Fallout”, January 1956. Gives the fallout decay rate and dose accumulation rate for the 15 megaton Castle-Bravo test on 1 March 1954, with a photo of the heavy visible fallout deposit (a thick layers of sand and dust) on station 250.04, a lagoon raft located where the land-equivalent gamma dose rate was 113 R/hour at 1 hour after detonation. The dose accumulation curve for Bikini (How) island in Bikini Atoll shows that fallout under the mushroom cloud began to arrive at 30 minutes after burst (giving people plenty of time to take cover or evacuate, even near ground zero), reaching 1 R at 30 minutes, 75 R at 1 hour, 280 R at 2 hours, 400 at 3 hours, 750 at 10 hours, and 1,000 at 24 hours. Any type of ordinary building would shield the gamma rays and thereby reduce these doses to easily survivable small doses. Alternatively, rapid evacuation in the cross-wind direction is another foolproof option with good modern weather prediction, that doesn’t ever seem to even appear in the minds of anti-civil defence propagandarists.

130. D. C. Borg, et al., “Radioactive Fallout Hazards from Surface bursts of very high yield nuclear weapons”, AFSWP 507, May 1954. Gives the Castle-Bravo 15 megatons surface burst fallout pattern to 50 hours after detonation (5000 R outdoor gamma dose extends 50 miles downwind, which would be 125 R in a a modern concrete city building with a protection factor of 40). States: “Passive defense measures, intelligently applied, can drastically reduce the lethally hazardous areas. … a subway tunnel, or the sub-basement of a large building could eliminate the lethal hazard … if followed by evacuation from the area when ambient radiation intensities have decayed to levels which will permit this to be done safely.”

136. Proceedings of the Symposium held at Washington, D.C., April 19-23, 1965, by the Subcommittee on Protective Structures, Advisory Committee on Civil Defense, National Academy of Sciences, “Protective Structures for Civilian Populations”, articles by Ivor Davies on British nuclear tests on concrete structures and the underground car park and shelter design for Hyde Park, London, by Harold Brode on biological, radiological, chemical, and neutron bomb warfare, and by Daniel T. Jones of the U.K. Home Office Scientific Advisory Branch on “The Protection against fallout radiation afforded by core shelters in a typical British house”, which uses cobalt-60 (1.25 Mev gamma radiation, which is considerably more penetrating and harder to shield than the 0.7 MeV for fission products and ~0.1 MeV for the soft U-237 and Np-239 contribution from neutron capture reactions in U-238 for thermonuclear weapons).

143. U.K. National Archives document HO 225/121 (extracts): George R. Stanbury, “Ignition and fire spread in urban areas following a nuclear attack”, September 1964. Stanbury shows that in a nuclear surface burst on London, only the top floors of tall buildings will be exposed to thermal radiation, due to shadowing, even despite the large size of the fireball in a megaton explosion. Because hot air rises, this exposure of the upper floors doesn’t ignite anything on the lower floors of the buildings. Stanbury points out that to get the Hamburg firestorm, incendiary bombs which burn for 15 minutes and thus are able to actually set solid wood alight (unlike the thermal flash from a nuclear bomb which only lasts a few seconds and just ablates the surface of wood, without igniting it), set 1 in 2 houses alight. Due to the shadowing problem, only about 1 in 15 to 1 in 30 buildings would be ignited by a 1 megaton surface burst on a British city, so: “it can only be concluded that a nuclear explosion [surface burst on a modern concrete and brick city, unlike Hiroshima] could not possibly produce a fire storm.”

146. R. E. Marrs, et al., “Thermal Radiation from Nuclear Detonations in Urban Environments”, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, UCRL-TR-231593, June 2007: “We have shown that common estimates of weapons effects that calculate a ‘radius’ for thermal radiation are clearly misleading for surface bursts in urban environments. In many cases only a few unshadowed vertical surfaces, a small fraction of the area within a thermal damage radius, receive the expected heat flux.”

148. A. N. Takata, “Mathematical Modelling of Fire Defenses”, IITRI, March 1970, AD705388, graph shows that in a nuclear attack which ignites 9% of wooden American houses, prompt fire fighting by 7.5% of the population would reduce the number of buildings burning to about 1.2 %.

149. Samuel Glasstone, “The Effects of Nuclear Weapons”, February 1964 edition, showing that even on a totally unobstructed desert with no shadowing of one building by another (all houses were built to have an unobstructed view of the fireball!), the thermal pulse of 25 cal/cm^2 on normal whitewashed wood fails to ignite the wood. The paint is burned off, but the house does not burn. It also shows that at the 1953 Encore nuclear test, only unpainted, dark, weathered, rotted wood ignited in the optimum dry fire conditions of Nevada. Only when a window had a clear view of the fireball and contained inflammable materials, did the contents burst into flames at 17 cal/cm^2 in dry Nevada air conditions (which are unrealistic for occupied buildings, where the air and material humidity content is higher since people exhale moisture). Glasstone explains on page 350 that firestorms in WWII required conditions of crowded wooden houses which don’t exist in modern cities, so: “Based on these criteria, only certain sections – usually the older and slum areas – of a very few cities in the United States would be susceptible to fire storm development.”

155. British Home Office, “Domestic Nuclear Shelters Technical Guidance”, extracts from a revised 1982 second edition. Explains why fire storms are not possible in British cities: “Studies have shown that due to shielding, a much smaller proportion of buildings than this [50% in Hamburg] would be exposed to the heat flash. Moreover the buildings in the centres of most British cities are now more fire-resistant [e.g. fire sprinkler systems, fire safety regulations limiting inflammable material, fire escape and extinguisher regulations, etc.]…”

175. U.K. Home Office, “The Protection of Your Home Against Air Raids”, booklet issued in 1938 by Samuel Hoare, summarizing home “refuge room” protective methods against blast wind debris, flying glass, ceiling collapse, and chemical warfare, based on experience gained in French villages near the Western Front in WWI, and in Spain during the Spanish Civil War in 1937.

183. C. V. Chester, “Technical Options for Protecting Civilians from Toxic Vapors and Gases”, Oak Ridge National Lab., ORNL/TM-10423, May 1988. Gives the toxic concentrations downwind for a range of 1 ton chemical weapons, and the evacuation/sheltering options from slowly-evaporating (persistent) mustard liquid and nerve agents like VX and rapidly-evaporating (non-persistent) gases like chlorine. Shows the protection factor afforded against gas for buildings with different gas exchange rates with outdoor air. On average, cheap American houses have an air exchange rate that takes one hour to replace the air indoors with outdoor air. This gives a protection factor of about 18 for a wind-carried cloud that takes 0.1 hour (6 minutes) to pass by. In a 15 miles per hour wind, this could woule be 0.1 x 15 = 1.5 miles in diameter. This is a massive exaggeration of the size of gas clouds. Better protection is therefore likely in a realistic situation.

191. John H. Sorensen and Barbara M. Vogt, “Will Duct Tape and Plastic Really Work? Issues Related to Expedient Shelter-in-Place”, Oak Ridge National Laboratory report ORNL/TM-2001/154, August 2001. This report shows the protection against nerve gases sarin (GB), VX, and mustard gas liquid by plastic duct tape, which can be used to improve a room used as a chemical warfare shelter. The results showed that plastic tape is very good at stopping VX gas (0.0025 inches of polyethylene tape held up VX for 3 hours), but less good at mustard gas (a World War I agent), which is a solvent for plastics. However, nerve gases are the most hazardous.

199. Science Communication, Inc., “Recovery and Decontamination Measures after Biological and Chemical Attack”, AD408094, March 1963. Chemical and physical decontamination science with literature references to classified reports.

205. U.S. Army Field Manual 3-3 (1992), Figs B-3 and B-1: Survival times for botulinum toxin and anthrax spores, as a function of weather conditions. (Little of either will last longer than 5 hours in any conditions outdoors.)

206. “Responding to a Biological or Chemical Threat in the United States” (U.S. Department of State Publication 11162, reprinted July 2004, summarizing decontaminatio and protection measures in a brief, simple format).

207. G. O. Rogers, et al., “Evaluating Protective Actions for Chemical Agent Emergencies”, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ORNL-6615, April 1990, Appendix G. Detailed instructions to householders in chemical warfare emergencies.

214. John H. Sorensen and Barbara M. Vogt, “Expedient Respiratory and Physical Protection: Does a Wet Towel Work to Prevent Chemical Warfare Agent Vapor Infiltration?”, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ORNL/TM-2001/153, August 2001. This wet-towel method (often recommended when escaping from hot, smoke-filled burning buildings) is not significantly useful against chemical warfare agents.

220. U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-10, “Chemical and Biological Weapons Employment”, February 1962. Explains how chemical and biological weapons can be used in war, giving detailed tables of data on sarin (GB) and mustard gas (HD) properties and denial times for territory. Also explains the delivery problems to overcome weather dispersion outdoors. States that UL (tularemia), OU (Q fever), NU (Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus) and AB (bovine brucellosis) are killed by 2 hours exposure to sunlight or 8-18 hours in cloudy or night time conditions. Contains nomographs for calculating exposure concentrations for various atmospheric conditions.

235. U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, “Chemical and Biological Weapon Employment Reference Book”, USACGSC RB 3-1, May 1968. Explains the effects of nerve gases and biological agents, and contains tables showing the effects of various quantities of munitions.

244. U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-10B, “Employment of Chemical Agents”, November 1966. Contains data on the effects of the CBU-5B/M43 750 pound BZ cluster bomb, a non-lethal agent which disorientates.

248. U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-6, “Field Behavior of NBC Agents”, November 1986. Shows the concentration of sarin (GB) downwind from a 100 kg release in different atmospheric conditions.

253. U.S. Army Field Manual 3-3, “Chemical and Biological contamination avoidance”, 1992, times for a 10 grams/square metre deposit of various kinds of nerve and mustard gas to evaporate in air at various temperatures. (At low temperatures, all take longer to evaporate than at high temperatures.)

254. U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, “Chemical Weapons Employment Data Reference Book 3-2”, July 1983. Gives data on casualties from aircraft spray of nerve agent VX.

261. U.S. Army Field Handbook FM 3-7, “NBC Field Handbook”, September 1994, brief summary tables of potential biological warfare agents: modes of transmission, incubation periods, mortality rates, vaccines, and treatments.

266. U.S. Army, “Medical Aspects of Chemical Warfare”, 2008 (especially Chapter 21, “Medical Management of Chemical Toxicity in Pediatrics”, by Elora Hilmas, PharmD, bcPs and others): summary tables of effects on medical workers treating contaminated victims of sarin in the Tokyo subway attacks of 1995, the correct emergency management and treatment for kids and adults with mild or serious nerve agent symptoms, and the chemical breakdown of nerve agents by simple hydrolysis (reaction with water). and


For chemical experiments proving cheap and simple gas protection of houses see page 1 of and also the 1999 nerve gas absorption experiments by buildings with closed windows, William K. Blewett and Victor J. Arca, Experiments in Sheltering in Place: How Filtering Affects Protection Against Sarin and Mustard Vapor (report ADA365348): “sorption of the agent by the shell and interior surfaces of the building … was found to produce substantially higher protection factors than are predicted simply by air exchange. In hour-long challenges with mustard vapor, passive filtering increased the protection provided by the cottage by a factor ranging from 15 to 50. Increases in protection factor were significant with sarin, the more volatile agent …” (,metadataPrefix=html&amp,identifier=ADA365348 ). Civil defense psychological resistance and protection data against conventional bombing is summarized in

See also: The effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan (the secret U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey report 92, Pacific Theatre) located at:

Please see also: , and

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