The Davy Crockett tactical nuclear device project was initiated during the Cold War. The result, a small 31 inch nuclear bomb that could be mounted on a tripod and fired at the enemy across a distance of over 2.5 miles. The payload could carry a nuclear yield of over 15 tons.1 The Davy Crockett could also be mounted on top of a vehicle for easier transportation, and utilized while on the vehicle itself. The device came in two different variants, a light variant and a heavy variant. The light variant could be launched across a range of 1.25 miles, and generally had a lower yield compared to the heavier variant. The M29 Davy Crockett (heavier variant) had double the range of the M28, and could accurately take out an enemy 2.5 miles away.2 The missile also had some radiation risks for the party firing it.
Why was the Davy Crockett conceived
The project was conceived to challenge the Soviet Army in Europe. The projectiles were given to selected US Army units for active use, in case of a breakout. It was also passively placed to curb aggression on the East and West German border. A total of 2100 Davy Crockett nuclear devices were made post 1956.3 Franz Josef Strauss, West Germany’s defense minister, was an ardent supporter of the device and also planned to lease it from the United States Army.
What was it named ‘The Davy Crockett’
The weapon system was named after US politician and soldier, Davy Crockett. According to sources, Crockett, once told a story about his encounter with a bear. Crockett, at that time did not possess any weapons and had to “grin the bear to death”. The team behind the device was impressed with this story and decided to name it after the soldier. The Russian national animal is also the bear.
Backpack nuclear devices
The United States have also devised small nuclear devices that could be placed within a normal sized backpack.4 The device was conceived out of the need for easy transfer across borders. The weapon had a yield of 0.19 kiloton.
Eight ton nuclear land mines
Operation Blue Peacock was a project undertaken by the UK Army, that resulted in the creation of an 8 ton underground land mine, that could be remotely detonated from a distance of over 3 miles.5 Its yield was estimated to be around 10 kilotons. The project was later dropped, citing impracticality.