Apr 272011

One of the primary goals of this expedition has been to obtain information for a potential book on the XM-28 and XM-29 Davy Crockett atomic weapons systems. And while there have been a few disappointments, on the whole it has been fantastically successful, both in terms of getting actual stuff, and in terms of getting contacts to get more stuff.

Got: Photos of the Davy Crocketts on display at the West Point museum (New York):

Got: Photos of three Davy Crocketts on display at the Watervliet Arsenal museum (New York):

Got: Photos of the Davy Crockett on display at the Infantry Museum at Fort Benning (Georgia):

Got: Two different PDF files of a Davy Crockett Field Manual (“meh” image quality)

Got: Photocopies of most of a Davy Crockett Technical Manual (“really good” image quality)

Got: contacts with the possibility of detailed construction and layout drawings of the recoilless guns

Got: a heads up on a Technical Manual that deals specifically with the ammunition (including M388 atomic warhead) for the Davy Crockett system. More research required. Anyone know of a *complete* collection of Army TM’s? This one might, and might not, be classified.

Didn’t get: Photos of the Davy Crockett at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds museum. Guess what museum CLOSED FOREVER in September of 2010? So all I have on that are photos I took with a  lesser camera in 2008.

Didn’t get: photos of *both* Davy Crocketts at the Fort Benning infantry Museum. The museum transferred all their stuff to a whole new building in 2009, and one of the Davy’s is in long-term storage. So all I have on that is a single photo I found online showing the previous setup. If anyone might’ve taken decent photos of the two of ’em prior to the move, please contact me.

BONUS Didn’t Get: good clear and unobstructed flash photos of the Fort Benning Davy Crockett, since flash photography is forbidden (!) and there are irritatingly placed signs in the way. I got a few flash photos when a docent said I could; then a security guard came along and over-rode her. Shrug.

Didn’t get: photos of the Davy Crocket on display at the Don F. Pratt Museum at Fort Campbell, Tennessee. If anyone is in the area and willing to take photos, please contact me. Willing to offer $$$.

STILL TO GET: photos of the practice Davy Crockett round on display at the National Museum of Atomic Science & History in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This will be a separate expedition at a later date, and will also obtain photos of the related SADM “nuclear backpack” bomb.

Unlikely to get: photos of the Davy Crockett on display at the Air Force Space & Missile Museum, Cap Canaveral, Florida; on display at the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada.  If anyone is in the area and willing to take photos, please contact me. Willing to offer $$$.


The idea of a book on the Davy Crockett has grown from a small, crappy and ill-conceived idea at the end of last year, to now looking like something pretty substantial. It is not my top publishing priority… Orion comes first. But this opportunity to scope out research for the DC book could not be sanely passed up. Of course, everywhere I go, when I talk to people about wanting to write this book, the response has been a pretty uniform “… uh, why?” Hell, damn near nobody has even *heard* of the Davy Crockett, much less are people clamoring to find out more. But for me, that’s prit near reason enough. Maybe I’d sell more books about the P-51 Mustang, saying the same thing that others have said in a thousands prior books, and showing the same nice photos that have appeared a thousand times before… but who’s ever seen *anything* on the Davy Crockett? I mean, come on… who wouldn’t want to read about an M-113 loaded with six nuclear weapons, or an atom bomb launched off a jeep and controlled by clockwork?

 Posted by at 8:32 pm
  • Huron

    Perhaps you should do a book on all the wacky weapons of the Cold War.

  • Pat Flannery

    I think it would be a very good subject for a book, as it was deployed in fairly large numbers (under the name of “Wee Gwen” by the British as well as by US troops: http://nuclear-weapons.info/vw.htm#Wee%20Gwen ) yet still remains little known to those who didn’t serve in the Army when it was deployed.
    There are declassified films about it on YouTube that show deployment tests of it and tactics to be employed for its use.
    Good luck finding any operations manuals for its use; I went hunting for them once online, and although I think I found one’s number, it was not available to the public, probably because it would show details of how the warhead was designed, and that would be a very big no-no even nowadays, particularly since it was designed for enhanced neutron yield.

  • Jay Dugger

    Best. Infantry. Weapon. Ever.

    I’ll buy at least one copy of such a book.

  • Pat Flannery

    It would be the perfect thing to reply to someone shooting a RPG-7 at you with.
    “That’s not a antitank weapon, mate… THIS is a antitank weapon.” 😉
    I was surpirsed to see that minimum range was 1,000 feet…I knew that one way of using it when it was mounted on a jeep was to park, dig a big foxhole for the crew, get in the hole, and fire it from in there.
    But 1,000 feet?!

  • Trimegistus

    Was there ever a bazooka version? Even proposed?

  • Pat Flannery

    Found two interesting pieces of info on it.
    Britain never deployed their version operationally as the military squabbled about how to use it.
    Based on the fact it was going to need 5,100 kg of plutonium to make 1,275 Wee Gwen warheads, that means each warhead uses 4kg of plutonium.
    Since it was apparently a exact copy of Davy Crockett, that’s how much it would use also.

  • sferrin

    I’m surprised Hollywood has never heard of the thing. BTW IIRC they did a full up test of that thing back in the day. Don’t recall off the top of my head what the name of the shot was though.

  • sferrin
  • Russ Mularz

    Heya, Scott!

    Great pictures… any chance of you posting higher rez versions of these or are you gonna make me wait for the book?

    I’m not real surprised about most people not knowing about these. Hell, there’s still a very high percentage of people who think Elvis Presley is still alive and living with the Roswell aliens! Right up until Orca Winfrey talks about this or People magazine does an article on it, the Davy Crockett system will remain safely obscure to all but the most fanatic technologists.

    I like Hurons suggestion about the wacky weapons of the Cold War. I’d love to see you do a series of books / booklets on the various ideas that were tossed around or even made it to the hardware stage. Things like the B-2 stealth bomber or the Predator attack drone just seem so downright dull compared to things like PLUTO the atomic-death spreading wonder or Davy Crockett the atomic peashooter!

  • allen T

    APG museum CLOSED???????

    GOD DAMN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’ve been there 3 times, and each time I took all the pictures I could, and said “I need to come back here with a better camera”

    • Pat Flannery

      We’re worried terrorists might learn the secrets of the Sherman tank. 😉

  • Bruce

    I don’t know if anyone remembers the movie or not or what the title to it was but watching the videos
    and it coming to mind was a movie made in the 50’s or 60’s about some bank robbers or something
    like that and it was a chase scene and somehow the bad guys ended up in about ground zero of
    a military test of an atomic or nuclear bomb. In the area that they were in…somewhere near some
    rocks I don’t remember if they survived or not…Anyone?

  • Joe

    APG may be closing, but some of the armor will remain, and the balance of the items are being relocated to Fort Lee, Virginia, if I’m reading some stuff on the internet correctly. So all is not lost, but you may have to wait till 2012 to see it again.

  • admin

    If you read *more,* you’ll see news articles about how funding for the Ft. Lee museum has been cut to zero. The end result of that is that the APG Museum has closed its doors and boxed up a lot of its stuff, shipped it off to Ft. lee, and now Ft. lee may nolt actually build a museum to house it. So… I guess somewhere Top Men are making sure the crates stay locked away…

  • admin

    > Was there ever a bazooka version? Even proposed?

    No. The warhead itself weighed about 75 pounds, without any sort of propulsion system. And the yield was above 20 *tons,* and filthy as hell. Robocop could hardly helf the thing, and would not be able to get out of the blast radius.

    • Pat Flannery

      A Starship Trooper in a power suit could carry it.
      Doesn’t something like a nuclear bazooka get used in the book?

  • kbob42

    I just noticed your icon next to your comment. Good movie.

  • CIA Rejected

    I am particularly interested in this warhead, as so many of them are said to be missing, and it would make a great orbital weapon. Considering the Chinese, I hope that we have a lot of them in our satellites, because the war starts tomorrow.

  • Ben

    The DC weighed 58 pounds but had a blast range that encompassed the outlaying firing range.
    The user would get a little glow but could still operate for days before developing radiation sickness.
    Space borne and battlefield nuclear weapons today are tiny by comparison and have yeilds ranging from .0001 to .001 megaton. I’m waiting for a nuclear .50 cal round to take out planes, tanks, and artillery.
    Troop concentrations are another good target.

    • Anonymous

      > Space borne and battlefield nuclear weapons today are tiny by comparison and have yeilds ranging from .0001 to .001 megaton.

      0.0001 megatons is 100 tons yield. The DC W54 warhead could get down to about 10 tons, but yield was unreliable at that low level. AFAIK, no other nuke got anywhere near that small of a yield.

      A .50 atomic round is basically an impossibility.

  • Wolfram58

    Good idea publishing a book about the Davy Crockett! While visiting Las Vegas in 2001, I went to a local Army & Navy store. There I found and bought two pristine manuals:

    1. FM 23-20 Davy Crocket Weapons System;

    2. TM 9-1000-209-12 Operator and Organizational Maintenance Manual: Weapon System, Atomic, Battle Group, M28 (XM28) (Lightweight) (Portable and Vehicle-Mounted) and Weapons System, Atomic, Battle Group, M29 (XM29) (Heavy) (Vehicle-Mounted).

    Even the manager of the local Nevada test Museum hadn’t seen these books ever before. Wonders still do exist!
    BTW: The’re not for sale.