The US Army’s Nuclear Cannon Named Is Named ‘Atomic Annie’ [VIDEO] – 3%

The US Army’s Nuclear Cannon Named Is Named ‘Atomic Annie’ [VIDEO]

The “Atomic Cannon”, is the US Army’s largest artillery gun. It was capable of firing both conventional and atomic warheads.

Two tractors transported this 47-ton gun (aka Atomic Annie”). The drivers of the vehicles communicated with each other by means of a built-in telephone system. It proved to be a highly mobile weapons system and adaptable to most road conditions. It fired a 550-pound projectile and had an approximate range of 20 miles.

The concept of a nuclear artillery shell captivated the Army brass in the late 1940s. The thing was atomic weapons were large beasts, so large in fact that the only guns that could lob one looked like something you find acrobats using at the circus.

The M65 was based on the design of the 280mm (about 11″) German K5 Railroad Gun. Its design, and name, both derive from the German K5(E) railroad gun “Anzio Annie” deployed against the American landings in Italy in WWII.

According to, big gun engineer Bob Schwartz at Picatinny Arsenal came up with a design that borrowed heavily from the German’s Krupp-made K5 11-inch railway guns, but modified and moved on roads by a pair of huge tractors. This gun, labeled the M65 and nicknamed ‘Atomic Annie’, wound up being the largest road-mobile artillery the US ever put into production at some 84-feet long, and a total weight of 83-tons.

Atomic Annie is W9 warhead, 11-inches wide, and 55 long and weighed 803-pounds.


It used 110-pounds of enriched weapons grade uranium, arranged in an advanced ‘ring and bullet’ system that collided when fired and set the device on a 15-kiloton chain reaction by the time it hit the target.

A double recoil system ate up the rearward motion of the huge rifle when fired, keeping it from toppling over on its turntable pedestal.

Watervliet Arsenal in New York produced the gun itself where some 20 of these mammoth guns were made. The carriage was produced at Watertown Arsenal in Massachusetts.

On May 25, 1953, one of the only 80 W9 shells made was fired at Frenchman Flats, Nevada.

With its design proven, the guns and their shells were soon shipped to Germany and South Korea. However, Annie’s time at the line was short, being withdrawn by 1963. It is because the M65 series guns were just too big and bulky to be effectively hidden

In 1991, The US military got out of the nuclear artillery shell business. The final 155mm and 203mm shells were dismantled in 2004.


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