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Operation Buffalo – Colour Record (1956)


Operation Buffalo was the testing of four nuclear fission bombs at Maralinga in South Australia on 27 September 1956. This film is the official recording of the operation. It contains the mute raw footage of each of the explosions, shot from up to four viewing positions by high-speed Vinten HS 300 cameras and normal-speed Éclair Cameflex cameras. The four fission bombs were codenamed One Tree, Marcoo, Kite and Breakaway. One Tree and Breakaway were tower explosions, Marcoo was a ground explosion and Kite was an air-burst over land.

Curator’s notes

Between 1952 and 1963 the British Government, in cooperation with Australia, carried out nuclear tests at three sites in Australia. In 1954 the British requested that one of the sites, Maralinga (in western South Australia), be developed as a joint facility with shared funding arrangements and become the permanent proving ground site. After its completion in 1956 the Maralinga facility was the location of all trials conducted in Australia. Between 27 September and 22 October 1956, Operation Buffalo was carried out. In 1957, the then Prime Minister of Britain, Harold Macmillan, declared that the tests would place Britain on an equal nuclear footing with the USA and the Soviet Union.