Orford Ness
Timeline

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  • 1935
    Radar research team arrives
    Experiments into the burgeoning new radar technology are carried out at Orford Ness which help to prove the technology's worth.
  • 1955
    Atomic Weapons Research Establishment
    The Atomic Weapons Research Establishment moves to Orford Ness to produce an operational nuclear weapons system required a warhead, bomb casing and a suitable aircraft. Basing their design on the 'Fat Man' bomb used to destroy Nagasaki, they soon create their first usable bomb design - known as 'Blue Danube.' The primary problems tackled at Orford Ness are the design and aerodynamics of the projectile itself rather than the explosive research. Between June and November 1955 a total of 14 trial casings are tested on the site, being dropped from aircraft and self-detonating before hitting the sea to preserve the secrets of their construction.
  • 1956
    Test runs for Britain's first nuclear test
    Ahead of Britain's first full test of a functional atomic bomb on Christmas Island in 1957, Orford Ness is used as the training base for the pilots to become familiar with the operating procedure for carrying and deploying nuclear armaments.
  • April 1993
    Sale
    The site is purchased by English Heritage.

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