May 21, 1956

1956: Operation REDWING. On Bikini Atoll in the Pacific, Maj David Crichlow flew a B-52 bomber to nearly 50,000 feet and dropped an H-bomb. This was the first known airborne-dropped H-bomb to explode. Redwing demonstrated the first United States airdrop of a deliverable hydrogen bomb during test Cherokee. Because the yields for many tests at Operation Castle in 1954 were dramatically higher than predictions, Redwing was conducted using an “energy budget”: There were limits to the total amount of energy released, and the amount of fission yield was also strictly controlled.