In A Nutshell
During the Cold War, the US developed a bazooka-like launcher that was the smallest and lightest nuclear weapon ever deployed by the military. Codenamed “The Davy Crockett,” it was designed to be used by infantry troops against the Soviets in Europe. The yield on the bomb was equivalent to anywhere from 10 to 20 tons of TNT, which was good news, because it had a range of one to three miles.
The Whole Bushel
In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States military developed the smallest and lightest fission-style nuclear weapon to date, known as “The Davy Crockett.” It was intended to be used by US Army infantry troops to help defeat Soviet armored forces if war ever broke out in Europe. The weapon would fire a 76-pound bomb, with a nuclear warhead which yielded the equivalent power of 10 to 20 tons of TNT, which was ideal, as it only had a range of one to three miles. Two variants of the weapon were designed: One was carried by humans and fired from a tripod, and the other was mounted on a light vehicle.
The Davy Crockett was tested two times in the early 1960s and was the last atmospheric nuclear test by the US at their Nevada Test Site. (Robert F. Kennedy witnessed the second live test.) However, issues were raised about the impracticality of the weapon, as battlefields were hectic and miscommunication could have dire effects, especially with a nuclear bomb. In addition, tests showed it to be unreliably inaccurate, with radiation poisoning very risky.
Nevertheless, the US Army produced anywhere from 400 to 2,100 rounds for the weapon and, by 1962, it was deployed in various positions around the globe, including in West Germany. Less than six years later, the Davy Crockett was taken out of commission, having luckily never seen action, with the very last of the weapons being retired in 1971.