Wednesday, February 3, 2010
"One of the smallest nuclear weapons ever built, the Davy Crockett was developed in the late 1950s for use against Soviet troops had war broken out in Europe. Small teams of the Atomic Battle Group (charged with operating the device) would be stationed every few kilometers to guard against Soviet attack, using the power of their nuclear artillery to kill or incapacitate advancing troop formations and irradiate the area so that it was uninhabitable for up to 48 hours, long enough to mobilize NATO forces.
The M-65 round used a version of the W54 warhead, a very small sub-kiloton fission device. The Mk-54 weighed about 51 lb (23 kg), with a selectable yield equivalent to 10 or 20 tons of TNT (very close to the minimum practical size and yield for a fission warhead). The complete round weighed 76 lb (34.5 kg). It was 31 in. (78.7 cm) long with a diameter of 11 in. (28 cm) at its widest point; a subcaliber piston at the back of the shell was actually inserted into the launcher's barrel for firing."