On this day October 30, 1961

The Soviet hydrogen bomb Tsar Bomba was detonated over Novaya Zemlya Island in the Arctic Sea as a test. With a yield of around 50 megatons, it was the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated to date.

Developed by the Soviet Union, the bomb was originally designed to have a yield of about 100 megatons of TNT (420 PJ); however, the bomb yield was reduced by half in order to limit the amount of nuclear fallout that would result.

Site of the detonation

Only one bomb of this type was built and tested on October 30, 1961, in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago.

A mock bomb is on display in the Russian Nuclear Weapons Museum in Sarov.

The term “Tsar Bomba” was coined in an analogy with two other massive Russian objects, the Tsar Kolokol, the world’s largest bell, and the Tsar Pushka, the world’s largest howitzer. Although the bomb was so named by Western sources, the name is now used in Russia.

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