The M65 Atomic Cannon, often called
Atomic Annie," was a towed artillery piece built by the United States and capable of firing a nuclear device
About this creation
The M65 was developed in the early 1950s, at the beginning of the Cold War, and fielded by 1953 in Europe and Korea.
Picatinny Arsenal was tasked to create a nuclear capable artillery piece in 1949. Robert Schwartz, the engineer who created the preliminary designs, essentially scaled up the 240mm shell (then the maximum in the arsenal) and used the German K5 railroad gun as a point of departure for the carriage. A three-year developmental effort was begun. The project proceeded quickly enough to produce a demonstration model to participate in Dwight Eisenhower's inaugural parade in January 1953.
The cannon was transported by two specially designed tractors, both capable of independent steering in the manner of some extra-long fire engines. Each of the tractors was rated at 375 hp, and the somewhat awkward combination could achieve speeds of 35 miles an hour and negotiate right turns on 28 ft wide, paved or packed roads. The artillery piece could be unlimbered in 15 minutes and then returned to traveling configuration in 15 minutes more.
n May 25, 1953 at 8:30am local time, the Atomic Cannon was tested at Nevada Test Site as part of the Upshot-Knothole series of nuclear tests. The test—codenamed—Grable resulted in the successful detonation of a 15 kt shell (warhead W9) at a range of 7 miles. This was the first and only nuclear shell to be fired from a cannon.
After the successful test, there were at least 20 of the cannons manufactured at Watervliet and Watertown Arsenals, at a cost of $800,000 each. They were deployed overseas to Europe and Korea. Due to the size of the apparatus, their limited range, the development of nuclear shells compatible with existing artillery pieces (the W48 for the 155mm and the W33 for the 203mm), and the development of rocket and missile based nuclear artillery, the M65 was effectively obsolete soon after it was deployed. However, it remained a prestige weapon and was not retired until 1963.
Full shot of the M65 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD
Part of the M65 Atomic Cannon at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD
Weight - 83.3 tons (gun and carriage)
Length - 84 ft
Width - 16.1 ft
Height - 12.2 ft
Crew - 5-7
Caliber - 280 mm
Range - ~20 miles
Just stumbled over this in my group and had to comment! I'm a bit of a nuke-nerd and i actually never thought anybody would build this particular weapon. I remember being a bit surprised that tactical warheads for cannons had actually been built and tested. Anyways, very nice scale model of a strange weapon indeed :-)