The M-28 or M-29 Davy Crockett Weapon System(s) was a tactical nuclear recoilless gun for firing the M388 nuclear projectile that was deployed by the United Statesduring the Cold War. Named after American soldier, congressman, and folk hero Davy Crockett, it was one of the smallest nuclear weapon systems ever built.
Both recoilless guns proved to have poor accuracy in testing, so the shell's greatest effect would have been its extreme radiation hazard. The M-388 would produce an almost instantly lethal radiation dosage (in excess of 10,000 rem) within 500 feet (150 m), and a probably fatal dose (around 600 rem) within a quarter mile (400 m).
The warhead was tested on July 7, 1962 in the Little Feller II weapons effects test shot, and again in an actual firing of the Davy Crockett from a distance of 1.7 miles (2.72 km) in the Little Feller I test shot on July 17. This was the last atmospheric test detonation at the Nevada Test Site.
Production of the Davy Crockett began in 1956, with a total of 2,100 being made. The weapon was tested between 1962 and 1968 at the Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaiʻi island, with 714 M101 spotter rounds (not live warheads) that contained depleted uranium. The weapon was deployed with U.S. Army forces from 1961 to 1971. It was deactivated from U.S. Army Europe (in West Germany) in 1971.
The 55th and 56th Infantry Platoons, attached to the Division Artillery of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division, were the last units equipped with the M-29 Davy Crockett weapons system. These two units were parachute deployed and, with a 1/2 ton truck per section, (3 per platoon) were fully air droppable. The units were deactivated in mid-1968.
One of the most fervent supporters of the Davy Crockett was West Germany's defense minister Franz Josef Strauss, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Strauss promoted the idea of equipping German brigades with numbers of the weapon to be supplied by the US, arguing that this would allow German troops to become a much more effective factor in NATO's defense of Germany against a potential Soviet invasion. He argued that a single Davy Crocket could replace 40-50 salvos of a whole divisional artillery park - allowing the funds and troops normally needed for this artillery to be invested into further troops, or simply not having to be spent at all. However, US NATO commanders strongly opposed Strauss' ideas, as they would have made the use of tactical nuclear weapons almost mandatory in case of war, further reducing the ability of NATO to defend itself without resorting to atomic weapons.