The atomic cannon was a huge piece of ordnance built by the United States in the mid-1950s to hurl nuclear shells far enough that they wouldn't kill the people who fired them. While far more sensible WWIII technology than, say, the atomic hand grenade, the atomic cannon did have its detractors and tactical limitations.
The first atomic cannon went into service in 1952, and was deactivated in 1963. A single test shot was fired seven miles at the Nevada Test site on May 25, 1953. Twenty were manufactured; seven appear to have survived the Cold War and are on public display today.
There is an atomic cannon at Watervliet Arsenal, Watervliet, NY. The reason it is there? This is the place where they all were manufactured. Watervliet Arsenal is the only place America has left to manufacture large caliber artillery guns. We make all of the tank guns now in use. We manufactured all of the massive guns aboard the naval battleships, etc.
I am the public affairs officer of the Watervliet Arsenal as well as the director of the Museum of the Big Guns. The Museum of the Big Guns at Watervliet Arsenal, Watervliet, NY, is about seven miles north of the state capital at Albany. Check out the arsenal and museum at http://www.wva.army.mil/. [John Swantek, 04/14/2002]Admission: Free. Hours: Sun.- Thurs, 10am to 3pm.