Atomic Annie – Part I – Yuma, Arizona

atomic annie light paint blog post

On May 25, 1953 Atomic Annie spoke for the first and only time.  The word she spoke was “Death”.

She screamed out an atomic shell. It flew seven miles over Nevada’s Frenchman Flat and erupted in a poisonous fireball.

You can watch the United States Air Force film of that test firing here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2RO6lo84Hc

annie proving grounds 1

Atomic Annie is the nickname given to the M65 280MM Atomic Cannon developed by the US military during the Cold War. She is a direct descendant of “Anzio Annie”, the train-mounted Krupp K5 cannon that pounded the Allies during the invasion of Italy during World War II.

Atomic Annie had nineteen sisters. Some were deployed to Western Europe and Korea during the Cold War. They sat on two 375 horsepower tractors, moving in and out of cover to confound enemy observers. They had the capability to toss a shell thirteen miles, but fortunately they all were silent for the ten years of their deployment. One did attend the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington, DC on January 20, 1953. She rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue like some olive drab debutante. At over eighty feet in total length, this big girl was the largest piece of mobile artillery ever built.

Annie was not a cheap date. Each of these weapons of mass destruction cost an estimated $700,000 to build. That translates into a little over $6million per gun in today’s dollars.

atomic annie vertical

Now, sixty year-old Annie is just a museum piece in some locales, a roadside attraction in others. There are eight of these guns on public display around the United States. The gun pictured in this post stands outside the Yuma Proving Ground, an Army facility in Arizona. It seems like a nice place to retire.

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