Detonated 47 years ago today, the Tsar Bomba was the largest most powerful nuclear device ever constructed. Originally designed to yeild 100 megatons, the device was parred down to 55 megatons for the test. The reduction was done to allow the bomber adiquate time to reach a minimum safe distance, and limit the scope of the radioactive fallout. The shockwave from the blast was so powerful that it registered on seismographs across the planet 3 different times as it circled the globe.

The bomb represented the peak of nuclear “dummy” bomb technology, and also singled its downfall. Bombs of this magnitude were expensive and bulky. Only specially rigged bombers could transport them, and the bombers were slow and easily picked off by enemy fighters. In war, multiple bombers would be assigned to a single target, the assumption being that not all of them would reach their target. In nuclear war, multiple wings of bombers with horribly expensive weapons inside of them was just unfeasible. Not to mention the fact that with the ever increasing yeilds, the bombers wouldn’t be able to escape the explosions. Every bomb run would be a suicide mission. After the Tsar Bomba, the Russians and the Americans began focusing on smaller, tactical nuclear devices. Bombs got smaller and less powerful, but their numbers started to increase at an exponential rate. The days of the single bomb inside of a flying fortress gave way to a dozen bombs inside of an ICBM.