The H-Bomb!

h bomb
Testing of the Hydrogen Bomb in 1953.

On August 12, 1953 the Soviet Union successfully detonated their first hydrogen bomb at the Semipalatinsk test site in northern Kazakhstan. One important thing about the Hydrogen bomb  they created was that it was the Soviet Unions own original design, unlike the atomic bomb they dropped whose design was stolen from the United States through espionage.

Stalin placed the highest priority on the Soviets nuclear arms program and knew that they had to have something greater to counter the threat of the atomic bomb by the United States. So, he put Igor Kurchatov at the head of the project, Igot was a Soviet physicist. The thing that I found interesting when reading was that they started this project on their Hydrogen bomb three years before they even exploded their first atomic bomb.

This is Andrei Sakharov, who is considered the father of the Soviet H-bomb since he was one of the Chief designers and they used one of his concepts he made to make the Hydrogen Bomb.

The United States tested their first hydrogen bomb on November 1, 1952 and when this bomb dropped it was thirty times more powerful than the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War Two. When Stalin got word of this he really pushed harder than ever to get them to finish creating something  that would be equal or better to prove that the Soviets could keep up with the United States. When the Soviets successfully dropped their first hydrogen bomb it really escalated the beginnings of the Cold War and pushed both the United States and the Soviets further into the Cold War giving both countries the constant urge to create weapons to try to one up the other country and prove their weapons were stronger and better.


  • “Hydrogen Bomb.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. 2015. Web. 20 Mar.
  • Long, Tony. “Aug. 20, 1953: Soviets Say, ‘We’ve Got the H-Bomb, Too’.” Conde Nast Digital. Web. 27 Mar. 2016.


13 thoughts on “The H-Bomb!

  1. I too touched on the Soviet hydrogen bomb in my post. Specifically, I discussed how the ‘layer-cake’ design was both more powerful and compact than previous models. I appreciate how you mentioned that the Soviet’s began working on the hydrogen ‘super-bomb’ years before they even detonated their first atomic bomb. Years and years of work and massive amounts of resources were poured into the development of the hydrogen bomb, which was both proprietary in design, and coveted by Joseph Stalin – which you mentioned. I enjoyed reading you post!


  2. Great post, I also wrote about this topic. Not only did the hydrogen bomb began the nuclear arms race, but some very interesting debates on the usage of these types of weapons. Mutually assured destruction benefits no one. However the build up of arms continued, even though they were heavily protested by many people in that time.


  3. It amazes me that the hydrogen bomb was the source of the Cold War. The Soviets and Americans were constantly trying to one up each other during this time and the Soviet hydrogen bomb was huge and destructive. The fact that it was three times stronger than the American version is crazy to think about.


  4. If you want an interactive visual for what fallout from this bomb would look like, check this site out! You can see what the fallout from Tsar Bomba (a later Soviet H-bomb and the most powerful one ever detonated) would look like if it detonated in Blacksburg for example. I just tested it and due to current weather patterns the radiation fallout would reach near Vermont…


  5. I wrote about the Sputnik launch and I talked about this. These bombs and the arms race in general was what really fueled the fear of space travel. Once rockets were being made possible, people began to fear the possibility of being attacked by these very powerful missiles. These really did escalate the xenophobia between the two countries.


  6. Nice post. It was very descriptive. It’s amazing how much time went into making these bombs and how the hydrogen bomb accelerated the Cold War. The fact that the United States and the Soviets continuously tried to one up each other proved to be very catastrophic. Thanks for sharing.


  7. What an interesting topic. It’s so crazy to think that almost all of the insecurity felt by millions (billions even?) during the Cold War was due entirely to the threat of these bombs.


  8. It’s interesting how your post ties into mine. Hungary was fighting for liberation from the Soviet Union and looked to the United States and UN for assistance, but no one came to their aide, partially due to this new threat of an H-bomb. The thought that this bomb was more powerful than the ones the U.S. used in Japan is daunting and no doubt played a role in keeping the West from intervening. Great post!


  9. As this post indicates, the development of the hydrogen bomb moved the arms race into a new more dangerous level. The threat of war now became also the threat of mutual destruction. Yet the increasingly sophisticated nature of the technology also meant that scientists were more important than ever for national security. The role of Sakharov in first developing, and then denouncing, nuclear weapons is one of the most important human stories of the Cold War.


  10. I actually wrote about the same thing! This was huge for the Soviets. The Soviets attempted to use this as leverage against the US, to make themselves seem more powerful and capable than they actually were. The site that this bomb was detonated at became a hot spot for atomic bomb testing, the result was thousands of people exposed to radiation and fallout.


  11. The nuclear arms race and the stockpiles by all the great powers involved certainly brought a great tension and fear of global atomic warfare if the Cold War turned hot. I found an interesting video that shows every nuclear test detonation by each country from Hiroshima to the end of the 1990’s, and its pretty awe inspiring.,d.dmo


  12. It’s very interesting how the hydrogen bomb was was thirty times more powerful than the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War Two. I learned a lot about bombs and how fast they attempted to continue to create them. Great post!


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