What was the name of the first French nuclear test?
'Gerboise Bleue' was the name of the first French nuclear test. It was an atomic bomb detonated near Reggane, in the middle of the Algerian Sahara desert on 13 February 1960, during the Algerian War (1954–62). General Pierre Marie Gallois was instrumental in the endeavour and earned the nickname of père de la bombe A ("father of the A-bomb"). Gerboise is the French word for jerboa, a desert rodent found in the Sahara.
On February 13, 1960, at 6:04 AM (GMT), the plutonium filled Gerboise Bleue was detonated atop a steel tower with an altitude of 100m. The command post was located 16 kilometers away from the blast. In order to study the immediate effects, military equipment was placed at varying distances from the epicenter, while jets flew overhead to take samples of radioactive particles. No journalists were allowed on-site; instead, an eyewitness account was given to the French press, saying “the desert was lit up by a vast flash, followed 45 seconds later by an appreciable shock-wave; an “enormous ball of bluish fire with an orange-red centre” gave way to the typical “mushroom” cloud”.
With Gerboise Bleue, France became the fourth nuclear power, after the United States, the USSR, and the United Kingdom. Prior to this test, there had been no nuclear detonations for 15 months. Gerboise Bleue was by far the largest first test bomb up to that date, larger than the American "Trinity" (20 kt), the Soviet "RDS-1" (22 kt), or the British "Hurricane" (25 kt).