civil defense tests


Declassified U.S. Nuclear Test Film #55: “Let’s Face It”

Based on the assumption that a nuclear attack from the former Soviet Union was imminent, the Federal Civil Defense Administration created a number of nuclear preparedness videos in the 1960s. In “Let’s Face It,” citizens are shown evacuating in an orderly manner, free from panic and driving mishaps. In addition, the video shows tests that were conducted at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) to gain data that would help in Civil Defense preparedness. At the NTS, entire cities or “doomtowns,” including houses containing furniture, appliances, food, and mannequins representing people, were built. Inside each house was an array of instruments to gather the pertinent data on blast, heat and radiation effects. The majority of the buildings were destroyed by the blast. Yet, the underlying message given is that if citizens remain calm and “face it,” they can survive the bomb.

In Operation Doorstep, conducted during the larger Operation Upshot-Knothole nuclear bomb test, mannequins are seated at a table in the dining room of house number two, attending a “dinner party” thrown by Civil Defense officials who are testing the effects of an atomic explosion on houses and occupants on March 15, 1953. 

After the blast, mannequins lie strewn about the room, their “dinner party” interrupted violently by an atomic blast on March 17, 1953.

The ‘after’ image was taken opposite the ‘before’ image location. (via The Atlantic)

Both homes in the study were constructed in such a way as to minimize the thermal effects of the bomb [Shot Annie - 16 kilotons], with an eye towards determining if, in the absence of fire, the basement of the closer home — 3,500 feet (1,100 m) from the hypocenter — might shelter its occupants, while the second — at 7,500 feet (2,300 m) could remain standing. Both homes performed as expected under the conditions of their construction.  - wikipedia


Before and After Operation Doorstep

On March 17, 1953 the Federal Civil Defense Administration conducted Operation Doorstep at Yucca Flat, Nevada.  It tested the effects of thermal radiation and nuclear blasts on residential buildings and mannequins such as the model family pictured.

Mannequin Family in a House at Operation Doorstep, 7,500 Feet from the Blast, before the Blast, 03/17/1953

Mannequin Family in a House at Operation Doorstep, 7,500 Feet from the Blast, after the Blast, 03/17/1953

(see also “Operation Cue” conducted in May of 1955.)