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Other titles:BRITAIN'S ATOMIC WEAPONS RESEARCH PROGRAMME COLLECTION [Allocated Series Title]
Summary: Film produced by the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, documenting Operation Grapple Y, a British atomic weapons trial conducted on Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean on 28 April 1958, as part of Britain's programme to develop a hydrogren bomb.
Description: Reel one: Opens with aerial views of Christmas Island. The majority of supplies are transported by sea, and landing craft bring supplies such as construction material to the island. Some of the locals are still resident on the island and have been working with the Task Force. Improvements have been made to the living quarters of the Task Force members since Operation Grapple X was conducted on the island in November 1957. Men of the Royal Engineers are seen tarmacing a road and constructing buildings for scientific use.
Personnel arrive by Hastings transport aircraft. It is not all work and no play - members of the Task Force are seen in the bar and dining room. Laundry is done, and various sporting activities are available such as swimming. Views of the parish church of St Nicholas.
The rain can cause havoc with the preparations and can make life uncomfortable. The forward camp is fourteen miles from the main site, and vehicles can suffer a terrific hammering from the road conditions. Helicopters are often used to transport personnel to the forward camp.
With high levels of humidity and temperatures often exceeding 80oF, manual labour on site can be very tiring. Personnel set up up instrumentation in laboratories and workshops at 'B' site. Communications equipment is installed. Equipment designed to measure the heat flash is installed at the top of a shelter. Monitoring equipment is set up and tested, and protective shields are fitted to shelters. A smaller camp is set up in the forward camp. High speed cameras in fibreglass carriers are installed.
Reel two: Generators assembled by the Royal Engineers provide power to the site, and those in the forward camp must be protected from the effects of the blast using sandbags and protective panels.
Four Vickers Valiant bomber aircraft from England are selected for the drop of the weapon [only one aircraft will be used but the others will remain on standby until the test has been carried out] The aircraft are checked thoroughly. Other aircraft used for various purposes in the trial are visible, including English Electric Canberras used for contamination testing, Westland Whirlwinds for transport, and Avro Shackletons for observation. Views of radome fitted to nose of Shackleton.
D-Day minus 1. Cameras are loaded at 'C' site, and at the base area permanent structures are opened to allow the blast to pass through.
Reel three: Valiant XD824 is towed to the loading area. Protective screens are raised around the aircraft while the weapon is loaded into the aircraft. At sunrise Shackletons take off to assess the weather. At the Operations Centre all aircraft flights around Christmas Island are plotted, and a restricted area around the detonation area is implemented. Canberras including WJ757 take off, followed by Valiant XD824 with the weapon onboard and is tracked by radar. Another Valiant takes off behind XD824 to act as an observer.
Observers on the ground wearing white protective suits. Views from the ground of the detonation of the weapon and subsequent fireball which is partially obscured by cloud. Views of the fireball from one of the Shackletons. The mushroom cloud begins to develop. The Canberras return and are marshalled into the decontamination area. Samples are removed from the aircraft, some for analysis on Christmas Island, some to be returned to England onboard a Canberra. A helicopter surveys the blast area with some fires on the ground still burning. The radiological team retrieve readings from the instrumentation in the area and the trial is complete.
Production Details: Atomic Weapons Research Establishment Film Unit (Production company)
Hawkes, P D (Production individual)
Brown, S T (Production individual)
Harris, D F (Production individual)
Draper, S H (Production individual)
Hinton, G F (Production individual)
Lawrence, F E (Production individual)
Wyles, R O (Production individual)