Photo of an M65 nuclear artillery cannon and the atomic detonation of a shell fired by it
just moments before.
The M65 was developed in 1949 and was based on the design of the German K5 railroad gun that saw service during World War II (the similarities can be clearly seen). The gun weighted over 83 tonnes (50 in the firing position), was 83 feet (25,5 m) long and had a calibre of 280mm (11.02 inches) making it the largest mobile artillery piece ever constructed and used by the US army. It could fire it's projectile up to a range of 20 miles (32 km).It had a unique transportation system. Suspended between two truck tractors with 375 hp engines each, it could be transported at road speeds up to 35 miles per hour (56 hm/h). The gun recieved the nickname of "Atomic Annie" because it was the only cannon ever made, capable of firing
tactical nuclear warheads.
20 such cannons were eventualy made at a price of 800000$ each. Throughout the 50's they had been deployed in Europe and the Far East but had proven to be obsolete the moment they got there. The guns were quite volatile and powerful for their size, but their enormous weight limited the mobility to the strongest paved roads and hard, packed surfaces,furthermore they constantly had to be guarded by whole platoons of infantry and were an easy target of a
potential Soviet attack. All of the guns were deactivated in the 60's.
This is a photo of the "Grable" test fired on May 25th 1953 on the NTS during operation Upshot-Knothole. "Atomic Anie" fired a Mark 9 nuclear warhead fitted in a 280mm artilery
shell. The projectile was 54.4 in. (138 cm) long and weighed 803 lb. (364 kg). It had a yield of 15 kilotons. Having been set on a timer, the shell exploded 20 seconds after firing, at a distance of over 6 miles (10km) away, at an altitude of 524 ft. (160 m) above ground. It was the first and only time in history that a nuclear weapon has been fired out of a cannon.
The film footage of this test became an iconic image of popculture, and is still widely used. You can find it in many places, try You Tube if you're interested.
Photo is public domain, obtained thanks to courtesy of the Sonicbomb.com site.