- Title: OPERATION BUFFALO [Main Title]
- Film Number: AWE 3
- Other titles: BRITAIN'S ATOMIC WEAPONS RESEARCH PROGRAMME COLLECTION [Allocated Series Title]
- Summary: Film produced by the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, Aldermaston, documenting Operation Buffalo, a series of Atomic weapons trials conducted in 1956 at Maralinga, part of the Woomera Prohibited Area, a weapons testing range in South Australia.
- Description: Newspaper headlines including "Atom Test Latest". Aerial views of the AWRE at Aldermaston. Preparation work for Operation Buffalo underway. Typists and telephonists at work. 4000 tonnes of stores are packed in specially made crates, ready for transportation by sea to Australia. Crates marked "Dept of Supply ROC Watson via Port Adelaide". Stores transferred to the docks by road. English Electric Canberras from RAF Weston Zoyland depart for Australia. During the tests these Canberras will fly into radioactive clouds for chemical analysis by the radiochemical measurements team. Equipment and spares are loaded into a Vickers Varsity. Varsity WL635 on airfield apron. A BOAC Lockheed Constellation arrives in Australia, with a number of the scientific team from Aldermaston onboard. The journey continues from Sydney to Adelaide, and then on to Maralinga. Work begins on setting up the camp. Construction material for the camp is taken from the local quarry, and a fuel depot is constructed to serve the area. Aerial views of the camp at Maralinga, which has been laid out according to previous trials. Airstrip. Bombing up area. Valiants and Handley Page Hastings TG523 in Transport Command markings on the airfield. Eminent scientist Sir William Penney arrives, accompanied by Mr Pilgrim from the AWRE. Unpacking stores. Laying 300 miles of cable. Construction of large steel buildings and shelters for measuring contamination levels. Conventional weapons are placed in the test area, designed to test the effect of atomic warfare on weapons and equipment. Six Supermarine Swift aircraft are also placed at various points around Ground Zero. The Radiological Measurements team set up their equipment designed to measure direct gamma radiation from the atomic weapon. The Canadian Defence Research Board prepares its gamma spectrometer, which measures the energy of gamma rays emitted by radioactive substances. Cameras are installed at various locations to record the detonation. The Biological team lay out dummies in standard dress in different positions. Food, glassware, medical supplies, fabric samples, tape recorders and water filled jerry cans are buried in containers in the ground, in order to measure the effect of radiation on these items. Adverse weather conditions delay the first test by fifteen days. Recreational scenes including eating in the dining room, having drinks at the bar, playing pool in the games room. Views of the main office block, hospital, post office, and garage. Dust storms. Meteorological team in action. 27 September 1956, the day of the first test, codename 'One Tree'. Final preparations take place, including making cameras ready to measure the initial moment of detonation. A Canberra takes to the skies prior to detonation of the device. Firing sequence commences. Observers with their backs to the detonation area. 'One Tree' detonates. Bright flash of light. Shockwave. The Canberra returns after flying through radioactive clouds and filters are removed and samples taken. Personnel are briefed before heading into the fallout area wearing full protective clothing. Westland Whirlwind XJ433 takes off to conduct an aerial survey of the target area. Views of the damaged Swift aircraft, equipment, buildings and dummies. A Daimler Scout car has been severely damaged by the blast, and a Centurion tank has also suffered some damage. The buildings in the target area have been heavily damaged but most of the cladding remains. Moderate damage to the 25lb guns. The survey party returns and undergoes a lengthy decontamination process including hot showers. Contamination checks are carried out on the search party's vehicles. The Target Response Explosives Group recover their specimens from the target area. A radar aerial has been severely damaged by the blast. Concrete slabs are examined for cracks. Runway specimens such as lights are removed for assessment. 4 October 1956, the day of the second test, codename 'Marcoo'. Large explosion. Aerial views of crater caused by the blast. The survey team works its way along the runway. Base control in Maralinga village. 11 October 1956, the day of the third test, codename 'Kite'. Vickers Valiant WZ367 takes off. Valiant in the air. RAF ground controller monitors run up to the target using radar and plotting table. Fireball. Aerial view of target area following detonation, target market completely obliterated. Photographic building. Processing continues of scientific film records. 21 October 1956, the day of the fourth test, codename 'Breakaway'. Target area. All base movements controlled and plotted. Detonation.
- Access Conditions: IWM Attribution: © IWM
- Featured Period:
- Production Date: 1956
- Production Country: GB
- Production Details: Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (Production company) Todd, Peter (Production cast) Draper, S H (Production individual)
- Personalities, Units and Organisations:
- Physical Characteristics: Colour format: Colour Sound format: Sound Soundtrack language: English Title language: English
- Technical Details: Format: 35mm Number of items/reels/tapes: 2 Running time: 42 mins
- Link to IWM Collections page:
Related IWM Collections Objects:
DRA 4794 (THE BRITISH ATOMIC TRIALS AT MARALINGA 1956 (Operation Buffalo) [Main Title])