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Architect Paul Gaertner built this beautiful 1/72 scale replica of the so-called “Atomic Annie” US M65 nuclear-capable 280mm artillery piece, and its two specially-built tractors. In 1953, the first M65 successfully fired a 15 kiloton nuclear artillery shell (shot Grable) at the Nevada Test Site. Ultimately, 20 of the huge cannon were produced and deployed. Of these, 8 are known to survive, one of which is on permanent display at the Armored Fighting Vehicles Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground. This was Paul’s prototype.

Planning for the model began in 2000, and construction 2007. Starting materials were “Evergreen brand white styrene plastic sheet, rod, bar, tube and structural shapes, as well as aluminum and brass sheet, tubing and wire.” Paul estimates 575 hours in the build, and has made his original drawings, based on photos and measurements from the prototype, available at a reasonable price.

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.



  1. Pretty wild to think there was a time in which we were willing to put nuclear material in practically anything and everything.  Imagine if history turned out a little differently.  A nuclear pile in every person’s basement, a thorium-fueled car in every garage, and small nuclear batteries like the ones NASA and other space agencies use in deep space satellites in every handheld radio, music player, and cellular phone.  Of course, that is a big if.

    1. Anonymous says:

      And you think laptops are too hot *now*… 

    2. Anonymous says:

      And you think laptops are too hot *now*… 

    3. Anonymous says:

      And you think laptops are too hot *now*… 

  2. Very nice model. My uncle was a driver for one of these in the late 1950′s.

  3. Robert Cruickshank says:

    That’s amazing. I was just looking for videos of the original on Youtube last week! 

  4. remind me of C&C generals