Atomic Annie

Atomic Annie Upshot-Knothole GrableOn May 25, 1953, The US military conducted Shot Grable of Operation Upshot-Knothole at the Nevada Test Site (now the Nevada National Security Site).

Shot Grable was detonated with a yield of 15 kilotons. A 280-mm cannon fired the atomic artillery projectile, which detonated 524 feet above Area 5 (Frenchman Flat). The cannon, later nicknamed “Atomic Annie,” was manufactured at the Watervliet Arsenal in New York.

Shot Grable was not just a test of the cannon. Indeed, the test involved over 650 Department of Defense test group personnel, 2600 exercise troops participating in the Desert Rock V exercises, over 700 observers, about 70 Air Force Special Weapons Center crewmen providing air support, and sheep. (See the DTRA Fact Sheet on Upshot-Knothole.)

Where can you see some of the remaining atomic cannons today?

Atomic Annie” (M65 atomic cannon) — the original used for the test shot at the Nevada test site — is on display at the U.S. Army Field Artillery Museum at Fort Sill, OK. The cannon was restored in 2010 and also includes the two tractors (prime movers) used for transport.

Although, if you’re driving through Kansas along I-70, you can see one from the freeway at Freedom Park near Junction City (although the park is permanently closed for security reasons due to its proximity to Fort Riley). [picture courtesy Cold War Tourist; Wired article 2008]

Of the 20 M65s produced, seven survive (of which one is the 240-mm prototype) and are on display at various museums. In addition to the two, above, you can also seem them at:

Of course, why go visit them when you can own and build your own 60th Anniversary Reissue by Revell!

Atomic Cannon Model

Watch Atomic Annie in action in this Department of Energy declassified video.