On 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:
- U.S. Army Ordnance Museum, Aberdeen, MD (museum is closed; moving to Fort Lee). Although all museum relics will be moved to Fort Lee’s US Army Ordnance Training and Heritage Center, the M65 is still at the NW corner of Aberdeen Blvd and Maryland Blvd just off the parking lot. [picture]
- National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, Albuquerque, NM, has a cannon on exhibit in their Heritage Park.
- Rock Island Arsenal Museum, Rock Island, IL, has a cannon at the Memorial Field. [pictures courtesy Tactical-Life]
- Virginia War Museum, Newport News, VA (240-mm prototype). You’ll find this located adjacent to the museum in Huntington Park off US 60 (Warwick Blvd) next to the Virginia War Museum sign. [pictures and plaque courtesy Toadman’s Tank Pictures;
- Watervliet Arsenal Museum, Watervliet, NY (closed 2013). The arsenal built the tubes and ordnances for the M65.
- Yuma Proving Ground, Yuma, AZ, has one on display near the entrance gate. [pictures courtesy Patrick Tillett; Roadside America]
Of course, why go visit them when you can own and build your own 60th Anniversary Reissue by Revell!
Watch Atomic Annie in action in this Department of Energy declassified video.