Sunday, October 7, 2012

atomic annie

This piece of atomic artillery is affectionately known as Atomic Annie.   Why the name Annie?   I don't know.   I am hoping that someone will be able to post the reason in the comment section at the bottom.
This is the only time that an atomic cannon fired a nuclear projectile.   This test was performed at the Nevada atomic test site on May 25, 1953 and the test was known as Shot Grable.

I sometimes wonder what went through the minds of the soldiers at the last minute who were assigned to firing the nuclear projectile from Atomic Annie?   What would have happened if the artillery shell containing the atomic bomb got stuck in the barrel?   What if the atomic shell exploded too soon, like in the barrel?   Did they think about getting vaporized by the atomic fireball?   Did they hold their breath on the final countdown?   So many questions.   Hopefully someone can shed some light on these questions.   This really was a monster of an artillery piece.
The bore of the gun was 280 mm and fired an atomic projectile which had an explosive power of 15 kiloton of TNT.    Now 15 kilotons is 15,000 tons of TNT equivalent in explosive power   Now that is a real bang when you consider that the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima had an explosive power of 13 kilotons of TNT equivalent.   And now we had an artillery shell with the same power of destruction.   This is a close-up of the Grable atomic bomb explosion.
This is how the cannon was transported and yes there is a cab at each end of the trailer that the cannon is mounted on.   This one is on display and appears to be succumbing to rust.   I hope that it gets some maintenance to preserve it for history sake for future generations.
I won't overwhelm you with all of the technical specifications of the atomic cannon, they are easily found on the internet and are quite fascinating.   There were around 20 of these atomic cannons and were operational from 1953 to 1963 when they were retired.
There were even toy models of the atomic cannon produced.
The kits look like a fun thing to do.   Just look at the atomic cloud in the picture on the box.
Has anyone assembled one of these kits?   They even had a model train as shown in the picture below.   Wouldn't that be a nice addition to a model train set.
The atomic cannon has taken its place in the history books and some of the atomic cannons are on display at various places around the county.    I just find it amazing that we would be able to shoot an atomic bomb out of a cannon.    Have a good day and I hope that this blog has gotten you interested in the atomic cannon and that you will want to read more on it.     Lew



Lillian said...

I am guessing that girls' names were often used as nicknames for big guns and what other names start with A. Agatha, Abigail, Adele.

sewalk said...

In US Army Field Artillery batteries, it is common practice for each crew to name their cannon or missile launch vehicle. Often, the first letter in the name corresponds to the letter designation of that battery. Whether that was true in this case, I don't know, but "Atomic Annie" was originally known as "Able Annie" before the big boom and "Able" was the phonetic key word for the letter "A" back then so it's likely the battery that operated it was A Battery of some battalion or regiment.

Mike Creek said...

In WWII the Germans used a K5E railway gun at Anzio, in Italy against American forces. It was nicknamed "Anzio Annie" by the Americans, alliteration being common in nicknames. The Atomic Annie guns looked very similar in size and design to the German guns, except they were transported by road,rather than by rail. Atomic Annie just seemed a natural name for these guns.