Nuclear weapons are not only bombs and missiles that can carry out strategic targets. In the 20th century, participants in the Cold War paid great attention to the possibility of creating the latest nuclear weapons for solving local tactical problems. Among other things, the possibility of introducing into military affairs what would later be called "atomic artillery" was seriously considered.
The story of nuclear artillery began not in the USSR, but in the United States back in 1947. It was then that the American engineers and the military seriously thought about the possibility of charging "conventional" artillery with small atomic charges. As a result, in 1951 the famous "Atomic Annie" was born, a heavy 280 mm M65 cannon, which was based on the M1 howitzer. In total, the Americans assembled 20 M65 units. The first tests took place in 1953. At the same time, "Annie" fired his first and, in fact, the only shot. Due to numerous design problems, the M65 was only adopted in 1960. However, already in 1963 the gun was removed from service.
In a very similar way, the fate of atomic artillery took shape in the Soviet Union. Comparing the fate of the cannons, it seems that communists and capitalists were not only competing in ideologies, economies and weapons, but also taking part in a competition to create the most useless things in the world. However, it is easy for us, people with post-knowledge, to scold our ancestors for mistakes.
One way or another, but the Soviet Union had its own cannon and not "Annie" at all, but "Oka". The official name of the atomic mortar is 2B1. The weapon was born in 1960. Work on its creation was in full swing at several enterprises, including the Kirov plant since 1957. Unlike the Americans, they did not begin to stamp 20 pieces of guns for testing at once. We limited ourselves to a battery of 4 newest guns. The caliber of the Soviet mortar, by the way, was an order of magnitude larger than that of the overseas "Annie" and was 420 mm!
The gun rode on the undercarriage of a heavy T-10 tank. For a shot, the mine was loaded in the breech of the barrel. Rate of fire "Oka" reached 1 shot in 5 minutes. Given the scale of the structure and the weight of the ammunition, this is phenomenal speed. The active phase of testing lasted from 1958 to 1960. During the tests, numerous design flaws were identified, including fundamental errors. The huge caliber played a cruel joke with the Oka. Each shot gradually broke the structure of the vehicle, which was absolutely unacceptable.
Officially, the 2B1 "Oka" was not accepted into service. Although in the period from 1960 to 1961, the guns were driven out at several parades in Moscow. However, already in 1961, "Oku" was sent on early retirement, since the need for atomic artillery actually disappeared due to the dynamically developing rocketry and the appearance of the 2K6 "Luna" complex.
If you want to know even more interesting things, then you should read why "Minigun" six barrels at once and why there are no less of them.