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Operation Argus

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"Project Argus" redirects here. For the project to search for extraterrestrial intelligence, see Project Argus (SETI).

Operation Argus


X-17 with nuclear warhead on board the USS Norton Sound


CountryUnited States

Test siteSouth Atlantic Ocean


Number of tests3

Test typespace rocket (> 80 km)

Max. yield1.5 kilotonnes of TNT (6.3 TJ)

Test series chronology

← Operation Hardtack I

Operation Hardtack II →

Map all coordinates in "Operation Argus" using: OpenStreetMap 

Download coordinates as: KML · GPX

Operation Argus was a series of United States low-yield, high-atmosphere nuclear weapons tests and missile tests secretly conducted from 27 August to 9 September 1958 over the South Atlantic Ocean.[1][2] The tests were performed by the Defense Nuclear Agency.

The tests were to study the Christofilos effect, which suggested it was possible to defend against Soviet nuclear missiles by exploding a small number of nuclear bombs high over the South Pacific. This would create a disk of electrons over the United States that would fry the electronics on the Soviet warheads as they descended. It was also possible to use the effect to blind Soviet radars, meaning that any Soviet missile-based ABM system would be unable to attack the US counterstrike.

The tests demonstrated that the effect did indeed occur, but also revealed that it dissipated too rapidly to be very effective. Papers on the topic were published the next year, focussing on the events as purely scientific endeavors.




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The tests were proposed by Nicholas Christofilos in an unpublished paper[3] of what was then the Livermore branch of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (now Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) as a means to verify the Christofilos effect, which argued that high-altitude nuclear detonations would create a radiation belt in the extreme upper regions of the Earth's atmosphere.[4] Such belts would be similar in effect to the Van Allen radiation belts. "Such radiation belts were viewed as having possible tactical use in war, including degradation of radio and radar transmissions, damage or destruction of the arming and fuzing mechanisms of ICBM warheads, and endangering the crews of orbiting space vehicles that might enter the belt."[2] Prior to Argus, Hardtack Teak had shown disruption of radio communications from a nuclear blast, though this was not due to the creation of radiation belts.

Argus was implemented rapidly after inception due to forthcoming bans on atmospheric and exoatmospheric testing in October 1958.[1] Consequently, the tests were conducted within a mere half-year of conception (whereas "normal" testing took one to two years).[5] Because nuclear testing during this time was bending the rules, the military borrowed International Geophysical Year equipment to cover up the nuclear tests.[1]

  • Two missiles, with warheads 136–227 kg to be launched within one month of each other, originating from a single site.

  • The missiles were to be detonated at altitudes of 200–1,000 mi, and also at 2,000–4,000 miles. Both detonations should occur near the geomagnetic equator.

  • Satellites were to be placed in equatorial (up to 30°) and polar (up to 70°) orbits, with perigees of roughly 322 kilometers (200 mi) and apogees of roughly 2,900 kilometers (1,800 mi) or greater. These satellites were to be used to measure electron density over time, and include a magnetometer, as well as a means for measuring ambient radio noise. Measurements were to be taken before the shots to determine a baseline, as well as during and after the events.

  • Sounding rockets, fired from appropriate ground locations, were to carry the same instrumentation as the satellites, except for radio noise. Ground stations to be used to study effects on radio astronomy and radar probing as well as auroral measurements.

Originally Argus was designated Hardtack-Argus, and later Floral. For reasons of security, both names were dropped in favor of the independent name Argus.

Funding was provided by the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project (AFSWP), the predecessor of today's Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Total funds allotted for the project were US$9,023,000.

Task Force 88[edit]


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Path of TF-88 during August and September 1958.

The United States Navy Task Force 88 (or TF-88), was formed 28 April 1958. TF-88 was organized solely to conduct Operation Argus. Once Argus was completed, the task force was dissolved, and its records dispersed. Some of these records have been destroyed or lost in the intervening time period. Of particular note among the missing documents were the film records (which recorded radiation levels during the Argus tests). This has proved contentious due to the higher-than-normal number of leukemia claims among TF-88 participants to the Veterans Administration. Because of this, it has been difficult to resolve just how much radiation participants were exposed to.

USS Norton Sound was a United States Navy-guided missile ship responsible for missile-launching functions. She also served as a training facility for crews involved in the testing. The X-17A missiles to be used in the test were unfamiliar to those conducting the tests. Exercises including assembly and repair of dummy missiles were conducted aboard Norton Sound. She also carried a 27-MHz COZI radar, which was operated by Air Force Cambridge Research Center, which was used to monitor effects of the shots. She was responsible for the launching of three low-yield nuclear warheads into the high atmosphere.[1] Her commanding officer, Captain Arthur R. Gralla, commanded Task Force 88.[6] Gralla would later receive the Legion of Merit for his role conducting the tests expeditiously.[7]

USS Albemarle, fresh out of an overhaul, was not listed on the TF-88 order. She set out to the Atlantic, supposedly on shakedown. She, too, mounted a COZI radar and other instrumentation for detecting man-made ionization. This instrumentation included IGY radiometersreceiversradar, and optical equipment. After this equipment was added, she sailed to the ocean around the area of the Azores to record data at the conjugate point, as the rest of task force 88 headed to the South Atlantic to conduct the tests.[1]

USS Tarawa served as overall command of the operation, with her commander serving as Task Group Commander. She carried an Air Force MSQ-1A radar and communication system for missile tracking. She also housed VS-32 aircraft for search and security operations as well as scientific measurement, photographic, and observer missions for each shot. HS-5 was also aboard and provided intra-task-force transportation for personnel and cargo.

USS Warrington, in conjunction with BearssHammerberg, and Courtney maintained a weather picket 463 km west of the task force, provided a plane guard for Tarawa during flight operations, and carried out standard destroyer functions (such as surface security and search and rescue). Warrington also carried equipment for launching Loki Dart rockets.

USS Neosho refueled task force ships during the operation. She was also outfitted with Air Force MSQ-1A radar. Her commanding officer also served as the flagship for TG 88.3, the Mobile Logistics Group, consisted of: Neosho, equipped with USAF MSQ-1 radar and communication vans, USS Salamonie (AO-26), and assigned destroyers.

USS Salamonie returned to the United States upon arrival at TF-88, and did not participate in any shots.

Tracking systems – the satellites[edit]

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Two satellite launches were attempted in order to obtain data from these high-altitude tests. Explorer 4 was successfully launched on 26 July. Explorer 4 Successfully rode an Army Jupiter-C missile to orbit from Cape Canaveral. The satellite contained enough battery power to function for sixty days. This was long enough for the satellite to track and measure ARGUS.[1] Explorer 5 suffered a launch failure on 24 August.

There were many tracking systems used by the task force along with these satellites along with many organizations that helped track these missiles. "These included the Naval Research Laboratory, the Army Signal Research and Development Laboratory, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Laboratory, the Army Map Service, the Naval Ordnance Test Station, and the Ballistic Research Laboratory along with ground tracking stations from the Aleutian Islands through the Azores from academic, industrial, and military organizations." [1]


To prepare for the launch of the ARGUS missiles, many tests and preparations were conducted. As the east coast units of TF 88 were heading towards the South Atlantic, they participated in countdown, launch, and missile- tracking drills using Loki/Dart high-altitude, antiaircraft rockets fired from the USS Warrington. Fourteen of these Loki launches were conducted from 12 to 22 August. These tests were conducted to test equipment and procedures, and to train personnel in specialized assignments. Some of these assignments necessary for the ARGUS missile launchings were "stationing of ships, MSQ-1A radar tracking by the USS Neosho and the USS Tarawa, communications, positioning of sky-camera S2F aircraft, and area surveillance S2F aircraft."[2]



One of the modified X-17A missiles launches from the USS Norton Sound as part of Operation Argus.

About 1800 km southwest of Cape Town, South Africa, USS Norton Sound launched three modified X-17A missiles armed with 1.7 kt W-25 nuclear warheads into the upper atmosphere, where high altitude nuclear explosions took place. Due to the South Atlantic Anomaly, the Van Allen radiation belt is closer to the Earth's surface at that location. The (extreme) altitude of the tests was chosen so as to prevent personnel involved in the test from being exposed to any ionizing radiation.[8] Even with the very low threat of radiation exposure, precautions were taken to prevent radiological exposure. The task force commander and his staff had laid out a series of precautionary radiation safe measures to be followed in each stage of the operation. Even though the chance of exposure to radiation from these missiles was so minute, the safety measures were still carried out as directed by the commander by the crew of Task Force 88.[2]

Coordinated measurement programs involving satellite, rocket, aircraft, and surface stations were employed by the services as well as other government agencies and various contractors worldwide.

The Argus explosions created artificial electron belts resulting from the β-decay of fission fragments. These lasted for several weeks. Such radiation belts affect radio and radar transmissions, damage or destroy arming and fusing mechanisms of intercontinental ballistic missile warheads, and endanger crews of orbiting space vehicles. It was found after running these tests that the explosions did in fact degrade the reception and transmission of radar signals, another proof that Christofilos was correct about the Christofilos effect.[2]

Argus proved the validity of Christofilos' theory: the establishment of an electron shell derived from neutron and β-decay of fission products and ionization of device materials in the upper atmosphere was demonstrated. It not only provided data on military considerations, but produced a "great mass" of geophysical data.

The tests were first reported by Hanson Baldwin and Walter Sullivan of The New York Times on 19 March 1959,[9][10] headlining it as the "greatest scientific experiment ever conducted". This was an unauthorized publication that caused an uproar in the scientific community because many of them were unaware of the presence of artificial particles in the Earth's atmosphere.[1] Approximately nine ships and 4,500 people participated in the operation. After the completion of testing, the task force returned to the United States via Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The tests were announced the following year, but the full results and documentation of the tests were not declassified until 30 April 1982.

List of Argus launches[edit]

See also: List of nuclear weapons tests of the United States

United States' Argus series tests and detonations

Name [note 1]Date time (UT)Local Time Zone [note 2][11]Location [note 3]Elevation + height [note 4]Delivery [note 5]
Purpose [note 6]Device [note 7]Yield [note 8]Fallout [note 9]ReferencesNotes

127 August 1958 02:28:??WET (0 hrs)
Launch from South Atlantic Ocean 38.5°S 11.5°W, elv: 0 + 0 m (0 + 0 ft);
Detonation over South Atlantic Ocean 38.5°S 11.5°WN/A + 170 kilometers (110 mi)space rocket (> 80 km),
weapon effectW-251.5 kt[12][13][14][15][16][17]

230 August 1958 03:18:??WET (0 hrs)
Launch from South Atlantic Ocean 49.5°S 8.2°W, elv: 0 + 0 m (0 + 0 ft);
Detonation over South Atlantic Ocean 49.5°S 8.2°WN/A + 310 kilometers (190 mi)space rocket (> 80 km),
weapon effectW-251.5 kt[12][13][14][15][16][17]

36 September 1958 22:13:??WET (0 hrs)
Launch from South Atlantic Ocean 48.5°S 9.7°W, elv: 0 + 0 m (0 + 0 ft);
Detonation over South Atlantic Ocean 48.5°S 9.7°WN/A + 794 kilometers (493 mi)space rocket (> 80 km),
weapon effectW-251.5 kt[12][13][14][15][16][17]

  1. ^ The US, France and Great Britain have code-named their test events, while the USSR and China did not, and therefore have only test numbers (with some exceptions – Soviet peaceful explosions were named). Word translations into English in parentheses unless the name is a proper noun. A dash followed by a number indicates a member of a salvo event. The US also sometimes named the individual explosions in such a salvo test, which results in "name1 – 1(with name2)". If test is canceled or aborted, then the row data like date and location discloses the intended plans, where known.

  2. ^ To convert the UT time into standard local, add the number of hours in parentheses to the UT time; for local daylight saving time, add one additional hour. If the result is earlier than 00:00, add 24 hours and subtract 1 from the day; if it is 24:00 or later, subtract 24 hours and add 1 to the day.

  3. ^ Rough place name and a latitude/longitude reference; for rocket-carried tests, the launch location is specified before the detonation location, if known. Some locations are extremely accurate; others (like airdrops and space blasts) may be quite inaccurate. "~" indicates a likely pro-forma rough location, shared with other tests in that same area.

  4. ^ Elevation is the ground level at the point directly below the explosion relative to sea level; height is the additional distance added or subtracted by tower, balloon, shaft, tunnel, air drop or other contrivance. For rocket bursts the ground level is "N/A". In some cases it is not clear if the height is absolute or relative to ground, for example, Plumbbob/John. No number or units indicates the value is unknown, while "0" means zero. Sorting on this column is by elevation and height added together.

  5. ^ Atmospheric, airdrop, balloon, gun, cruise missile, rocket, surface, tower, and barge are all disallowed by the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Sealed shaft and tunnel are underground, and remained useful under the PTBT. Intentional cratering tests are borderline; they occurred under the treaty, were sometimes protested, and generally overlooked if the test was declared to be a peaceful use.

  6. ^ Include weapons development, weapon effects, safety test, transport safety test, war, science, joint verification and industrial/peaceful, which may be further broken down.

  7. ^ Designations for test items where known, "?" indicates some uncertainty about the preceding value, nicknames for particular devices in quotes. This category of information is often not officially disclosed.

  8. ^ Estimated energy yield in tons, kilotons, and megatons. A ton of TNT equivalent is defined as 4.184 gigajoules (1 gigacalorie).

  9. ^ Radioactive emission to the atmosphere aside from prompt neutrons, where known. The measured species is only iodine-131 if mentioned, otherwise it is all species. No entry means unknown, probably none if underground and "all" if not; otherwise notation for whether measured on the site only or off the site, where known, and the measured amount of radioactivity released.

List of ships involved in Operation Argus[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h Mundey, Lisa (2012). "The Civilianization of a Nuclear Weapons Effects Test: Operation ARGUS". Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences. 42 (4): 283–321. doi:10.1525/hsns.2012.42.4.283.

  2. Jump up to:a b c d e Department of Defense, Defense Nuclear Agency (1958). "Operation ARGUS, 1958". Department of Defense Documents: 1–143. hdl:2027/uiug.30112075683737.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.

  3. ^ Van Allen, James A.McIlwain, Carl E.Ludwig, George H. (15 August 1959). "Satellite observations of electrons artificially injected into the geomagnetic field". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PDF). 45 (8): 1152–1171. Bibcode:1959PNAS...45.1152Vdoi:10.1073/pnas.45.8.1152JSTOR 90137.

  4. ^ Christofilos, Nicholas C. (15 August 1959). "The Argus Experiment" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America(PDF). 45 (8): 1144–1152. Bibcode:1959PNAS...45.1144Cdoi:10.1073/pnas.45.8.1144JSTOR 90136. Retrieved 6 June 2017.

  5. ^ "Report DNA 6039F: Operation Argus 1958" (PDF). Nuclear Test Personnel Review. Defense Nuclear Agency. 1982. OCLC 760071663. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 January 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2010.

  6. ^ Lawson, Cliff (2017). The Station Comes of Age: Satellites, Submarines, and Special Operations in the Final Years of the Naval Ordnance Test Station, 1959–1967. Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division. p. 43.

  7. ^ Hall of Valor Project. "Arthur R. Gralla". Military Times. Retrieved 30 December2018.

  8. ^ U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency. DTRA Fact Sheets, "Operation Argus". November 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2010.

  9. ^ Baldwin, Hanson W. (19 March 1959). "3 Atomic Devices Detonated 300 Miles Up". The New York Times. p. 1.

  10. ^ Sullivan, Walter (19 March 1959). "Radiation and Geomagnetic Phenomena Probed and Revealed by Test Outlined". The New York Times. p. 1.

  11. ^ "Time Zone Historical Database". Retrieved 8 March 2014.

  12. Jump up to:a b c Sublette, Carey, Nuclear Weapons Archive, retrieved 6 January 2014

  13. Jump up to:a b c Operation Argus, 1958 (DNA6039F), Washington, DC: Defense Nuclear Agency, Department of Defense, retrieved 26 November 2013

  14. Jump up to:a b c Norris, Robert Standish; Cochran, Thomas B. (1 February 1994), "United States nuclear tests, July 1945 to 31 December 1992 (NWD 94-1)" (PDF), Nuclear Weapons Databook Working Paper, Washington, DC: Natural Resources Defense Council, archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2013, retrieved 26 October 2013

  15. Jump up to:a b c Hansen, Chuck (1995), The Swords of Armageddon, Vol. 8, Sunnyvale, CA: Chukelea Publications, ISBN 978-0-9791915-1-0

  16. Jump up to:a b c United States Nuclear Tests: July 1945 through September 1992 (PDF)(DOE/NV-209 REV15), Las Vegas, NV: Department of Energy, Nevada Operations Office, 1 December 2000, archived from the original (PDF) on 12 October 2006, retrieved 18 December 2013

  17. Jump up to:a b c Yang, Xiaoping; North, Robert; Romney, Carl (August 2000), CMR Nuclear Explosion Database (Revision 3), SMDC Monitoring Research

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Operation Argus.

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“Valiant Thor” The Extraterrestrial Who Lived At The Pentagon

Posted on 11/09/2019 by EraOfLight

Majestic 12@TS_SCI_MAJIC12

The end of the world [as you know it] is soon upon us. We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.

A Storm Approaches...

WH The storm approaches lighting

Jan 18, 2019

This film "Living History" focuses on the career of Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd and his research expedition to the Antarctic in the late 1920’s to the early 1930’s. Admiral Richard Byrd was an American naval officer, explorer and had won himself the Medal of Honor for valor. His first expedition consisted of two ships and three airplanes with the flagship of the trip being the City of New York. On this trek, he and his crew conducted photographic expeditions and geological surveys. The film is presented by The News Magazine (:12) with American students being the targeted audience. Ships of the expedition are seen in the waters of the New York Harbor in 1930 after returning from their first voyage to the North and South Poles (:24). Admiral Byrd first appears at (:34) prior to celebrations in the streets of New York upon his arrival (:38). Byrd rides a parade car through the streets (:49). He is seen again 23 years later addressing students (:59) about the differences between the northern and southern poles. Footage follows of the North Pole (1:15) and the South Pole (1:25). Men of the 1926 expedition are seen donning thick cold weather gear (1:57) near the Josephine Ford Byrd Expedition plane. This expedition lead to the North Pole becoming one of the most strategic locations (2:15). The Josephine plane is seen returning to the expedition’s base at Spitsbergen (2:23). Men on the ground surround the plane as it touches down from the trek which took over 16 hours (2:27). The pilot, Floyd Bennett and Admiral Byrd are pictured together (2:35). Byrd returns to speak about avoiding war though he believed if it was to come to fruition it would take place mainly across the top of the world (2:41). Snow plows move snowy terrain across the arctic tundra (2:55). Footage follows of one of Byrd’s six expeditions (3:55) as he charts the 1,400-mile course (4:03). As their vessel neared the destination, it is seen cutting through large ice patches (4:13). The expedition arrives on the shores of Antarctica (4:25). Scouts raise the US flag (4:31). Native penguins of the area are seen (4:38). Men move blocks of snow which will be utilized for water sources (4:41). An aerial shot of the area known as Little America follows (5:19). Admiral Byrd returns from a scouting flight just ahead of a blizzard (5:29) as members of the voyage head below ground for shelter and to study the photographs taken during Byrd’s flight (5:50). The blizzard is viewed from above ground (5:55). Participants of the expedition take navigation classes in the underground shelter (6:46). The storage lockers which hold the camp members’ frozen food supplies are viewed (6:57). Meat is so deeply frozen it must be chopped with an axe (7:12). As the storm passes, the men resurface (7:23) and set to uncovering snow bound tractors (7:28). Dogs and dog sleds are used to carry supplies of important information retrieved on the trip (7:40). The drivers of the dog sleds are seen returning to ships which were being loaded up with supplies (7:47). The film begins to wrap up as Byrd appears for a final time to talk about returning to Antarctica (8:09). The film had been produced by Warner Brothers Pictures Inc. (8:46). We encourage viewers to add comments and, especially, to provide additional information about our videos by adding a comment! See something interesting? Tell people what it is and what they can see by writing something for example: "01:00:12:00 -- President Roosevelt is seen meeting with Winston Churchill at the Quebec Conference." This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit


In this issue of the Army-Navy Screen Magazine series (No. 85), viewers are treated to a short documentary on the U.S. Navy’s Antarctic expedition Operation Highjump, a 1946-1947 mission to Antarctica to establish the Antarctic research base Little America IV, assess the feasibility of maintaining a permanent base, and further American understanding of the continent. The film begins with aerial footage of Antarctica, a map of the continent, and footage of men framing buildings and carving ice blocks during construction of the first Little America exploration bases (1929-1941). Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd and men gather in a tent during one of the early expeditions (00:48). A plane taxis on a snowy runway (01:30); a dogsled moves across the snow. Admiral Byrd, heading the Navy’s Task Force 68, and Real Admiral Richard H. Cruzen prepare to leave on Operation Highjump in 1946 (02:05). Viewers see the expedition’s ships, planes (including the amphibious Martin PBM Mariner), and helicopters (what appears to be a Sikorsky R-4). Men pose with equipment and arctic clothing. Several men work with huskies and wrap their paws (03:00); the film shows the huskies at their kennel in New Hampshire. The first units of the expedition set sail for Antarctica. A ship (presumably the flagship USS Mount Olympus, passes a massive iceberg (03:58). Whales swim in the arctic waters. A ship passes through an icefield (04:37). A helicopter takes off from one of the ships to go scout. The USCGC Icebreaker Northwind breaks through ice so other ships can follow (05:10). The USS Mount Olympus is frozen stuck in the ice (05:27). The Navy submarine USS Sennet is stuck in ice; footage shows the freed Sennet returning to the U.S. after it is determined that it isn’t safe for the sub to continue on the mission. The Central Group ships make landfall in Whales Bay near the Little America base (06:53). Men anchor a ship into the ice by freezing a large piece of timber in the ice. A Navy man offers his hand to a penguin. Scouts head out on cross country skis and find the previous Little America base buried in snow and ice (07:55). Men dig out ice and snow and enter the below-ground base. A Navy captain locates the main entrance. Dog teams pull sleds (09:15); steel mats are laid down to bridge a crevasse. A penguin watches as men set up tents. Douglas R4D transport planes (Navy designation for Douglas C-47) take off from carrier USS Philippine Sea (09:56). The large planes land on air strip at Little America. Byrd climbs out of the plane and greets the men of the task force. Alligator LVTs, modified for cold weather, head to rock pillar mountains, presumably the Transantarctic Mountains (10:50). There is a good aerial shot of Little America IV (11:20). On the snowy ground, seals scoot around for photographers. Divers of the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team drop into the icy water and pose for the camera (11:55). There is a shot of a massive iceberg floating into the Bay of Whales (12:30). The film then cuts to the sailing ships of the Eastern Group, where Captain George J. Dufek crosses a line between the USS Brownson and Pine Island (12:50), but the line breaks and he falls into the sea. A motor whaler retrieves the captain from the icy water. A Mariner mapping plane flies overhead. A Navy man pretends to box with a penguin (14:22). With summer coming to a close, the men prepare to depart. The Douglas R4Ds are left behind as planned. Aboard a ship, men review the aerial photographs of Antarctica. Task Force 68 sails through the icy waters heading back to the U.S., concluding the film.

Operation Highjump, officially titled The United States Navy Antarctic Developments Program, 1946–1947, was a United States Navy operation organized by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr., USN (Ret), Officer in Charge, Task Force 68, and led by Rear Admiral Richard H. Cruzen, USN, Commanding Officer, Task Force 68. Operation Highjump commenced 26 August 1946 and ended in late February 1947. Task Force 68 included 4,700 men, 13 ships, and 33 aircraft. Operation Highjump's primary mission was to establish the Antarctic research base Little America IV.

We encourage viewers to add comments and, especially, to provide additional information about our videos by adding a comment!  See something interesting?  Tell people what it is and what they can see by writing something for example: "01:00:12:00 -- President Roosevelt is seen meeting with Winston Churchill at the Quebec Conference."

This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit

Jun 30, 2015
Also known as "Into Little America", this film shows Admiral Richard E. Byrd's second expedition to the South Pole.  Paramount Pictures sent two cameramen along to film this expedition, and appears to have liberally re-created certain aspects of the journey (as the set pieces at the start of the film demonstrate).  Ont his second expedition, in 1934, Byrd spent five winter months alone operating a meteorological station, Advance Base, from which he narrowly escaped with his life after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning from a poorly ventilated stove. Unusual radio transmissions from Byrd finally began to alarm the men at the base camp, who then attempted to go to Advance Base. The first two trips were failures due to darkness, snow, and mechanical troubles. Finally, Thomas Poulter, E.J. Demas, and Amory Waite arrived at Advanced Base, where they found Byrd in poor physical health. The men remained at Advanced Base until 12 October when an airplane from the base camp picked up Dr. Poulter and Byrd. The rest of the men returned to base camp with the tractor. This expedition is described by Byrd in his autobiography "Alon"e. It is also commemorated in a U.S. postage stamp issued at the time, and a considerable amount of mail using it was sent from Byrd's base at Little America, which was powered by a Jacobs Wind 2.5 kW.  

Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr., USN (25 October 1888 – 11 March 1957) was an American naval officer who specialized in feats of exploration. He was a pioneering American aviator, polar explorer, and organizer of polar logistics. Aircraft flights, in which he served as a navigator and expedition leader, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, a segment of the Arctic Ocean, and a segment of the Antarctic Plateau. Byrd claimed that his expeditions had been the first to reach the North Pole and the South Pole by air. However, the majority of polar experts are now of the opinion that Roald Amundsen has the first verifiable claim to each pole. Byrd was a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the highest honor for heroism given by the United States.

The best sources on this expedition are: the official account by Richard E. Byrd, “Discovery, the Story of the Second Byrd Expedition,” published in 1935 by G. P. Putnam; and the only contemporary account written during the expedition, by Stuart D. Paine, “Footsteps on the Ice, The Antarctic Diaries of Stuart D. Paine, Second Byrd Expedition,” compiled and edited by M. L. Paine, and published by the University of Missouri Press in 2007.

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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit

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