Red Snow

Red Snow was the British developed thermonuclear weapon.[1] Its physics package was shared with the United States and was used in the development of the United States W28 nuclear warhead[2] used in the B28 nuclear bomb and AGM-28 Hound Dog missile, with an explosive yield of approximately 1.8 megaton.


The Red Snow warhead was developed after a September 1958 decision to adopt the US warhead for British use, following the 1958 US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement. It entered service in 1961, remaining in use until 1972, when it was replaced by the WE.177 bomb. Perhaps 150 were produced.

Red Snow was used as both a free-fall bomb and as the warhead of the Blue Steel missile,[1][3] and would have been used in the Skybolt missile in place of the US's W47. In the gravity bomb role, it was fitted into the casing of the Yellow Sun weapon, even though the Red Snow warhead was considerably smaller than that of the original Yellow Sun bomb.

The Red Snow physics package was later reduced in size, weight and yield, and fitted with a smaller more modern primary, intended as a Red Beard replacement. Known as Una, this was later reduced in diameter and renamed Ulysses as the physics package intended for the UK warhead on the Skybolt project.[4]

See also


  1. Yellow Sun MK.2 Enters Service, Atomic Weapons Establishment timeline, September 2007
  2. "Defence Committee on Nuclear Requirements 1959–1963". Atomic Weapons Research Establishment. National Archive. 17 July 1962. p. 1. TNA AVIA 65/1771 E24. Retrieved 2 January 2012. Red Snow is the British version of the U.S. Mk.28, which has been tested by the American Authorities. It follows that all current British nuclear weapons are based on tested designs.
  3. Blue Steel Nuclear Missile Enters Service, Atomic Weapons Establishment timeline, September 2007
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