Nuclear 11-inch Artillery Shell


There’s an interesting theme that surfaces from time to time on the Forum about just what qualifies as “ammunition.” How about nuclear weapons? Not bombs dropped from aircraft, or ICBM or cruise missile warheads, but actual rounds of what we consider classic ammunition with propellant, primer, projectiles, etc. fired from rifled tubes.

Life magazine has a neat pic of an artillery piece that had just fired an 11-inch shell with a fission warhead which detonated 6 miles downrange at 500 above the ground. See … bomb-tests. According to Life, this one round was the one and only nuke artillery shell firing in U.S. tests, and was called Operation Upshot-Knothole. Wonder how Paul Smith would section one of those.


Mel: Yep the 11" was actually the 280 Cannon. If you go to YouTube you can put in Nuclear Cannon and get lots of clips. We also had, in the “rifled catagory” the 155mm and the 8" and the Navy had Nuc capability for their 16" rifled tubes. And all are found to have a DODIC number in the “ammunition” catagory.//


Here is the cover from the TM on the M422 8" Nuclear Projectile. Notice the DISTRIBUTION STATENENT and DISTRUCTION NOTIC; even though these documents were many times unclassified they could not be made public. Yes the big mushroom makesr from rifled tubes are ammunition too.


A 280mm Nuclear Cannon (as seen at Test Grable) and it’s related prime movers still sits outside of the APG Museum. Don’t know if it’s slated to move to Ft. Lee, remain in place or be shipped elsewhere.


Here is the M65 280mm gun and carriage sinking into the lawn at the Army Ordnance Museum at APG, Spring, 2009.

This view shows the sad amount of decay and a heavily painted projectile.

This is a rather poor photo showing the HE projectile and propellant charge.

Sorry about the jumbo photos, but Photobucket has been a real pain lately…



In 1957 when I was at the small arms repair school at APG, this 280mm gun was parked around the corner and in excellent condition !!! Sad to see the degraded condition it sits in now.
M. Rea


Just to add: the nickname of the gun was ‘Atomic Annie’.