Craft & Design Energy & Sustainability
Scratchbuilt: M65 Atomic Cannon


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.

14 thoughts on “Scratchbuilt: M65 Atomic Cannon

  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.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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