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4.1 Operation Hurricane (detonation on 3 October 1952 at Monte Bello Island, W.A.) :

  • RAAF provided 7 Lincoln aircraft (82(B) Wing) at Broome for air sampling tasks, 2 Dakota aircraft at Onslow for aerial radiation surveys (86(T) Wing), 1 Dakota at Pearce for courier duties, and 5 Lincoln aircraft at Townsville for air sampling tasks.  They also established a temporary RAAF station at Broome to service 86(T) and 82(B) wings (5.0.12). Aircraft crew did not wear film badges or dosimeters (5.0.20). No aircraft decontamination was undertaken. (11.1.3)
  • '...RAAF air and ground crews were not included in the operational orders which required that radiological safety regulations set down for Hurricane be observed.  Some contamination of aircraft and crew based at Broome did occur although probably well within the limits set down in the regulations.' (5.0.22)
  • There is clear evidence that Townsville and New Zealand air sampling operations collected very low radiation levels and aircraft contamination was well below permissible levels.(5.5.44)
  • Extrapolation from limited available data suggests it was 'likely that the surface contamination on theLincolns gave very low dose rates and that the maximum dose to the aircrew was well below the normal working dose specified in the Hurricane Radiological Safety Orders.  The contamination levels were such that ground crew working in the aircraft after their return would only have received radiation exposures that were well within the approved lowest radiation dosage level for Hurricane participants, called 'the Normal Working Rate'' (5.5.47)
  • 'Air and ground crew of Lincoln aircraft used for Hurricane suffered exposure to radiation but the dose which they received is now impossible to determine accurately.  It is unlikely that the dose exceeded the level of dose which others involved in the program were authorised to receive.' (5.5.57)
  • The 82(B) Wing Lincolns that flew from/to Broome were (5.5.53):

A73-55:Sqd Ldr WM Dixon

A73-54Sqd Ldr D A Glenn

A73-52Gp Capt G C Hartnell

A73-41FO E D McHardie

A73-53Flt Lt S W Trewin

A73-61Flt Lt E B Goldner

A73-51Flt Lt H R Winchcombe

  • The 86(T) Wing Dakotas that flew from Onslow to Broome (and subsequently back to Onslow) were A65-76 and A65-99 (5.5.48).  On the return flight, A65-99 'encountered 'intense radioactivity' at 10 000 feet so that the sensitive monitoring equipment on board reacted to the contamination on the aircraft.' (5.5.48)
  • 5 Lincolns flew through the mushroom cloud to perform samples:  A73-41, A73-51, A73-53, A73-54, and A73-61.(11.1.1)
  • In addition to the 5 Lincolns that flew from Broome through the cloud approx 16.5 hours after the explosion, the remaining 2 Broome Lincolns flew approx 44 hours after the explosion 1300 nautical miles west-north-west of Broome, and experienced far less radiation (5.3.5).  A final sampling flight flew from Broome 70 hours post explosion and went over the Monte Bellos and collected far less radioactivity (5.3.5).
  • 2 Dakota aircraft flew from Onslow to Broome approx. 24 hours after the explosion (5.3.2), and then returned to Onslow through the cloud (5.3.3).
  • 'The first interception of the cloud by the Lincoln aircraft was estimated to have occurred about sixteen and a half hours after the explosion.  The aircraft were in the vicinity of the cloud for about five and a half hours.  About two days after the explosion three aircraft were sent to search an area north-west of the Broome at 500 feet.  Finally, one aircraft was dispatched at about three and a half days to take samples about 9000 feet between Onslow and Broome after the coastal monitoring Dakota aircraft had detected activity at that level.' (5.5.43)
  • 5 Lincolns from Townsville also did air samples, three of which identified significant radiation between Townsville and Rockhampton.  They flew 6 flights, 3 of which did not detect any radioactivity (5.3.6).
  • 4 RAAF staff were also part of the JSTU which was stationed at South East Island from 5 November 1952.  They were FO J E Nicholls, FO E K Peck, Gp Capt King and Gp Capt Bird (5.5.26-27).  Records are contradictory as to the health effects of their service in the contaminated area, but the Commission accepted earlier conclusions that there is no objective evidence in the medical record of ill effects (5.5.29).  'On an examination of all the evidence, the protection measures seem to have been adequate' (5.5.31)
  • The Royal New Zealand Air Force also flew 4 aircraft to do air samples 3500 miles form ground zero, three of which collected significant radioactivity (5.3.7).