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Newsgroups: sci.military.moderated
Subject: Re: Davy Crockett tactical nuclear weapon?
From: (Carey Sublette)
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 17:34:39 GMT

In article <>, (Steve
Wall) wrote:

> In article <>,
> (Carey Sublette) wrote:
> > For a weapon of this small size, the greatest kill radius against
> > personnel (not in a bunker) is due to radiation not blast due simply to
> > scaling laws. This weapon is thus sort of a tiny enhanced radiation
> > weapon, although it is pure fission. The radiation effect would make it
> > fairly effective against a (single) tank, if it landed within a few tens
> > of meters. The blast effect would actually not be terribly significant in
> > comparison (tanks protect against blast better than they do radiation).
> I remember hearing that the lethal radius of the "Crockett" was large
> enough that the infantryman firing the weapon was at considerable risk.
> Could you look up the lethal radius (if available) for the W54 warhead
> and post it?

Done and done! Actually I had to calculate the effects, there being no
handy place to look them up. I must admit that although I had general idea
about what to expect, I was impressed by the lethal radiation radius!

For a 20 ton yield
Range (meters)  Radiation (rem) Blast (psi)
500                210             
400                500
300               1350              2.5
200               4600
150              10300              7

Max radius for 3rd degree flash burn - 90 meters.

If I recall correctly (not having the reference in front of me) the
minimum operational range of the system was 400 yards (about 360 m). This
puts the shortest range well inside the lethal zone for unshielded

For those of you unacquainted with radiation effects: 200 rem causes
sterility, temporary immune system supression, increased cancer risk; 600
rem is usually considered "lethal" (~50% fatality rate); 1000 rem is 100%
lethal (but you can get shipped back stateside before you die); 5000 rem
will incapacitate you immediately, but you recover temporarily to become a
"walking ghost" for a few hours before relapsing, death occurs in a couple
of days; 10000 rem - you fall over almost instantly and die (in several

Even with shielding from armor the 4600 rem level will kill you for sure.

The blast effect is pretty much insignificant. 7 psi will destroy or
severely damage any civilian building, and it will knock you off your feet
for sure, but only flying (or falling) debris cause serious injury. In an
open field injuries are likely light to none. Of course it is totally
insignificant for armor.

Carey Sublette

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