The Atomic Cannon

The Atomic Cannon, at 280 mm, was the largest nuclear capable mobile artillery piece manufactured by the United States. On May 25, 1953, a 280 mm cannon fired an atomic projectile a distance of 7 miles at the Nevada Test Site. Twenty 280 mm cannons were manufactured. None were used in battle.

Beautifully restored
14 x 20color print of
The Atomic Cannon
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  • Operation: Upshot Knothole
  • Shot Name: Grable
  • Shot Number: 10
  • Date: May 25, 1963
  • Detonation: Airburst
  • Yield: 15 Kt
  • Location: Frenchman Flat - Nevada Test Site
  • Weapon: Mark 9 Gun
  • Sponsor: Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory
More info about the Atomic Cannon available in Trinity & Beyond and Atomic Filmmakers

operation Grable - atomic cannon blast Original AEC Press Release - UPSHOT-KNOTHOLE OPERATION - GRABLE EVENT ...Frenchman Flat, Nevada, May 25, 1953. Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson and designated Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Arthur W. Radford observing history's first atomic artillery shell explosion here today. The shell, fired from the Army's new 280 mm artillery gun, burst with precision accuracy over the designated target area where railroad cars, trees, bridges and other equipment had been located.

Atomic smoke trails & fireball
Within milliseconds of the detonation, the fireball is formed. The smoke trails are visible to the right. The small box at bottom left indicates the area covered on the bottom frame.

atomic precursor
This frame shows the precursor which is formed by the blast. The boxed area indicates the area covered on the bottom frame.

atomic test picture
This frame is an enlargement of the frame above and shows a train and bus. The device in the background is a very tall tower containing cameras and instruments. The precursor is visible in the upper right of frame.