The Soviet RDS-220 better known as Big Ivan or the Tsar Bomba, was a hydrogen bomb developed by the Soviets in the 1960s. It is the most powerful nuclear bomb to have ever been detonated. It was designed primarily by 7 Soviets namely, Yulii Borisovich Khariton, Andrei Sakharov, Victor Adamsky, Yuri Babayev, Yuri Smirnov, Yuri Trutnev, and Yakov Zel’dovich who referred to it as “Kuzkina Mat “, which translates to “We’ll show you!” referring to the United States. The Tsar Bomba weighed 27 tones, roughly the weight of 5 elephants put together. The merciless bomb, was planned to yield 100 megatons equivalent to 100 million tons of TNT, however fearing extinction levels of radiation, it was toned down to half the yield, but was still 3300 times more powerful than the bomb that was dropped at Hiroshima and 1400 than the one that was dropped at Nagasaki. Since the size of the bomb was so huge, the engineers had to remove the doors of the bomb so that it could be carried by a plane. It was even attached to a parachute so that the plane carrying it had enough time to escape the explosion caused by this nuclear bomb. It destroyed everything within 24 km radius and was capable of inflicting third degree burns within a 100km radius. The detonation melted the rocks on the island and flattened its surface.
Fearing radioactive fallout due to the arms race, in 1963 the United States and USSR signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty, which would suggest all nuclear testing to be executed underground.
On 30 October 1961, Tsar Bomba was first tested over the Mityushikha Bay in Novaya Zemlya by a TU-95 bomber piloted by Andrei Durnovtsev from a height of 10.5 Km. It took the bomb 188 seconds to reach a detonation altitude of 4000 meters just enough for the pilot and plane to escape the blast sight safely. Within a second, the fireball from the explosion was 4 miles wide, with a mushroom cloud rising to a height of over 60 km, 7 times the height of Mount Everest. The light from the impact was seen at distances over 2000 kms. The shockwaves destroyed houses from over 50 kms away and shattered roofs and windows beyond 900 kms.
How the bomb was dropped
The plane piloted by Andrei Durnovtsev dropped the Tsar Bomba at 11:32 AM Moscow time, from a height of 6.5 miles (10.5 km) over Mityushikha Bay in Novaya Zemlya. The bomb detonated at a height of 2.5 miles (4 km). The descent from the height it was dropped from until the place of the detonation at 4,000 meters above ground took 188 seconds, just enough time for the pilot, Andrei Durnovtsev to fly to a safe distance. Just one second after the detonation, the fireball was already 4 miles wide, and the light could be seen at distances of over 2,000 kilometers. The mushroom raised to a height of about 64 km, over 7 times the height of Mount Everest.
In the video section of this site you can see some videos made during the detonation, and on the Map section you can see where exactly the ground zero is, as well as the route of the plane.