Davey Crockett bomb - small nuke


The M-388 round used a version of the W54 warhead, a very small sub-kiloton fission device. The Mk-54 weighed about 51 lb (23 kg), with a selectable yield equivalent to 10 or 20 tons of TNT (very close to the minimum practical size and yield for a fission warhead). The complete round weighed 76 lb (34.5 kg). It was 31 in. (78.7 cm) long with a diameter of 11 in. (28 cm) at its widest point; a subcaliber piston at the back of the shell was actually inserted into the launcher’s barrel for firing.[1]
Presidential candidates were asked if the nuclear option would be on the table for Iran, most said yes, but… When people hear the word nuclear, they freak out with visions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the vast devastation it wrought.

I was wondering if there were any of these Davey Crockett bombs type bombs around and why doesn’t a politician, when asked the question about nuke deterrent, explain the difference between this bomb and the big ones? It seems like it would make it more palatable to the American people (that’s gruesome, I know).

Also, it seems to me that if you gave the middle east dictators a demo of these little ones by lighting one off in the desert some place that it would at least give them pause. I’m not trying to start a debate about the politics of this scenario, just mainly want to know if we still have them and why wouldn’t we have them visible in our arsenal?

The Crocketts aren’t around anymore, and conventional arms are more powerful now and more accurate.

Are you referring to the bombs we drop from Stealth bombers or the traditional B-52(?) that has been in service forever?

Also, the reason I asked is that the word ‘nuke’ has a much greater psychological effect than ‘big bomb’.

They already know we have nuclear bombs as well as enough conventional bombs to kill everyone we wanted to in any of the countries that annoy us. Not sure if a small nuclear bomb would scare them more. The nut cases would love it because using it would incite global jihad against the US. That or any other weapon won’t help us until we have a clear objective to accomplish in the first place. Hell, even when Iran was holding hostages and we had an actual state-sponsored “attack” our hands were tied for the most part.

Using a nuclear weapon at this point is global political suicide. A horrible and contemptable idea that rightfully should be off the table.

What would be the tactical rationale for a weapon like this in the modern world?

It made some sense back when the U.S. Army was preparing for a massive armored invasion of Western Europe by the Warsaw Pact. In that scenario tactical nuclear weapons could be used as a way to compensate for the numerical superiority that the Soviets would have had.

But these days the United States can quickly achieve air superiority over any realistic hotspot in the world. That factor, coupled with smart munitions, means that no conventional armored force stands a chance against us in straight-up battle. We don’t need tactical nukes to even the odds.

Meanwhile the political fallout from using tactical nukes on the battlefield would be huge. It would create a tremendous breach with most of our allies.

It’s a weapon without a mission and a huge political downside. Why should we waste money a weapon system like that?

The Davey Crockett was actually intermediate between a tactical nuke and what we would now call a “dirty bomb”. Its purpose was to generate a huge pulse of immediate radiation to kill anyone unlucky enough to be nearby, and to scatter enough radioactive debris to make the area it was set off in unoccupiable for several days afterward. This would be a weapon you’d only use if you were (1) losing, and losing badly; and (2) really, really desperate. If you have a hard target you want to destroy badly enough to use nukes, you might as well go ahead and use a multi-kiloton device.

The B-61 has a tactical “dial-a-yield” feature reportedly giving options from .3 to 170 kilotons. Anyone with access to Wikipedia can see what a B-61 is, and open sources indicate we have hundreds of these, so I don’t know how one could say that the weapon isn’t “visible.”

But again, the idea of dropping a nuke on a country just to demonstrate that we can is patently absurd and would have serious consequences. If there were any surer way to encourage “rogue nations” to develop nuclear weapons as a strategic deterrent to the US, I can’t think of it.

The US electorate doesn’t give too much heed to any explanations in the difference of anything. They would only need to hear the word “Nuclear” as you pointed out, and their vote is already decided. Anything further, on a hot issue like that, no pun intended, (but I will take credit for it) and the candidate will most certainly be stepping on flypaper.