America's Smallest Nuke<br/>The Deadly Davy Crockett - Blog! - Two-Fisted History


America's Smallest Nuke
The Deadly Davy Crockett

Even more than micronationalism, I love the Solid Grease era of the 1950s and Early 1960s.  Poodle
Skirts and Doo-Wop. Thanks to Ken Palmer at WHTT for 2FH's love of Solid Grease! Ike and the Brooklyn Dodgers.  And of course, a fanatical* infatuation with atomic weapons.

Following the armistice in Korea in 1953, the United States and NATO were concerned by the potential
for Soviet and Sino-North Korean troops sweeping into Western Europe and South Korea respectively.
The Honest John nuclear missile wasn't able to use a sub-kiloton warhead, and the safety
distance require for a one kilometer warhead launched by an Honest John created a  2,000 yard no-
man's land  that couldn't be covered by nuclear artillery.  Because nuking tactical formations is what you do, right? Something needed to be developed to cover this gap within which enemy
troops would be immune to nuclear attack.

Enter the Davy Crockett Weapon System.

Davy Crockett Test

The Davy Crockett was a two-part system.  The first, a recoilless rifle (essentially a bazooka) mounted
on a tripod, and the nuclear projectile which it launched.

Yes.  The nuclear projectile.  The Davy Crockett fired an atomic shell that weighed about 75 pounds,
almost 2'6” long, and looked like a watermelon with fins. A watermelon with radiation symbols on it! The launchers could be either fired from jeeps or from the ground by a three-
person atomic squad, and could sail between one to two-and-a-half miles away, which was helpful as
the minimum safe range of the Davy Crockett was about 600 yards.

The Davy Crockett wasn't the most accurate of weapons.   Being a smooth-bored rocket launcher, the detonation could be
several hundred feet from the target.  Additionally, the (relatively) small yield didn't produce muchBut when do we care about accuracy if we've got a nuke, eh?
blast.  That wasn't the weapon's main function, however.  A blast of about 20 tons /was/ nice, but more
helpful was the area-denying capacity of a 30” nuclear shell spewing radiation across the enemy's line
of advance, and would make the area impassable for about two days – enough time for the U.S. and
NATO to mobilize and counterattack.

Blast Radius

Troops within a quarter-mile of the blast would almost certainly die.  Individuals within 500 feet would be exposed to enough radiation to kill a person within minutes.  At the 1,000 foot mark, the blast would cause temporary fatigue and nausea.  The US V Corps had all types of nifty Atomic Goodies!This would pass, but after a few days of apparent health, exposed individuals
would die a painful death.  Beyond a quarter-mile, troops would most likely survive immediately, but
would require medical attention and would likely die of cancer within a few years.

Although never seeing use in combat, 2,100 Davy Crockett's were manufactured and deployed to West
Germany and South Korea.  There was even talk of equipping NATO units with the Davy Crockett.
Britain had a similar unit called the 'Little Gwen.'

The Davy Crockett remained in service with the US Army from 1961 to 1971.  Today, non-nuclear
Davy Crocketts can still be found at eight museums around the United States.

Museum Piece

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Tags : History 1950s Nukes USHistory

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