|Top photo by Departemnt of Defense;
others by Sp4 Merritt Nesin, 2/73 Arty, 3AD
M65 280mm "ATOMIC CANNON"
V Corps weapon in support of the 3AD during 1957-1963
||TOP PHOTO below is not a practice shot
into the Fulda Gap, but rather the first and only nuclear test-firing
by the Army of an Atomic Cannon. Occurring in 1953 at Frenchman
Flat, Nevada, at a range of 7 miles, the 15 kiloton blast was
the equivalent of the Hiroshima A-bomb. The two other photos
below are of one of the cannons (of 3rd Bn, 82nd Arty, V Corps)
at Grafenwoehr during training with the 3AD.
See below for technical information.
||The above two photos of a 3rd Bn, 82nd Artillery
(V Corps) Atomic Cannon, taken in 1961, were sent to us by the
photographer, then Sp4 Merritt Nesin of Brooklyn, NY, a 3AD artillery
surveyor. The cannon is shown at Grafenwoehr on one of its twice-yearly
test firing trips, and on this occasion in conjunction with the
3AD's 2nd Bn, 73rd Artillery. Nesin, who was stationed at Spearhead's
Pioneer Kaserne in Hanau during 1959-61, recalls pulling guard
duty several times at a location somewhere near Hanau where the
cannon's nuclear shells were stored.
Atomic Cannon technical info:
||The 280mm M65 was taken out of service by the
Army in 1963, ten years after it became the world's first artillery
piece to live-fire a nuclear shell. It was never used in battle.
A total of twenty cannons were built, with about ten to sixteen
(reports vary) sent to Germany in the mid 1950's for the 7th
Army. Of an all mechanical & hydraulic design, with no electronics,
the M65 could fire a 600 lb. shell (nuclear or conventional)
up to 18 miles. If the hydraulics failed, the gun could be aimed
manually by turning geared wheels. The weapon was fired from
an attached trailer/base that was transported by two tractor-trucks,
one to pull and one to push. The barrel had a full length of
38.5 feet. One cannon, including transport vehicles and a separate
armored ammunition carrier, required a total crew of 22. Three
different kiloton sizes of nuclear shells were available. Several
of the original M65's are now civilian owned and on display.
Those include one at the National Atomic Museum in Albuquerque,
New Mexico, and one as a roadside attraction in Junction City,
Kansas, near Ft. Riley.
[Sources: U.S. Army & Ft. Sill Artillery