America’s Nuclear Rocket Launcher

“Nuclear war is such an emotional subject that many people see the weapons themselves as the common enemy of humanity.” —Herman Kahn

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.

Show Me The Proof

The Davy Crockett
The Weird Nukes of Yesteryear

  • El J man

    Never thought that the fatman from fallout 3 actually existed

    • Exiled Phoenix

      I assumed it was like the fat woman you call mom!

      • Mikey Godsey


        • Exiled Phoenix

          True to rights.

    • P5ychoRaz


  • Hillyard

    3 miles is way to close if your firing a 10 – 20 KT warhead. That is a massive explosion, and the windstorm would probably engulf whoever fired the round, not to mention the fallout.

    • Exiled Phoenix

      To kill commies, “acceptable collateral damage” is assessed.

    • phat

      Its not kiloton its ton warhead

      • Hillyard

        You’re right, I miss read that, I was in Pershing and keep thinking in KT’s when it comes to nuke payloads. Still awfully close.

  • inconspicuous detective

    how on earth could giving the armed forces a reloadable, hand held nuclear bomb be a good idea? the cold war brought out the stupid in everyone, it seems….

  • chairde

    Ok the Murphy law should be thought about before making this little charmer. Not to mention what could happen if terrorists got hold of a few.