Top two photos © Sp4 David L. Smith, 3/36 Inf;
Third down from Spearhead Newspaper files.
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The U.S.'s first tactical nuclear weapon,
in 3AD arsenal approximately 1957-1973.

See below for technical information.

Photo info:

  The top two photos were taken by Sp4 David L. Smith at Ayers Kaserne, Kirchgoens, in 1965, showing an M50 Honest John. The truck (2nd Bn, 73rd Arty) served as both a transporter and a launch platform. The rocket was mounted to a ramp that was raised at the front to the proper aiming elevation. The bottom photo, from Spearhead Newspaper files, shows a live firing of an M50 at Grafenwoehr in 1965. Practice firings were done with weighted dummy warheads, and normally at target distances between 6 and 10 miles.

Honest John technical info:


The Honest John was developed in the early 1950's as the model M31, which was the first U.S. tactical (i.e., battlefield or close-support) nuclear weapon. It was a free-flight artillery rocket, as opposed to a guided missile, with a range of 12 miles. The Army in Europe began receiving the improved model M50 in 1962. It also used a solid propellant but had a range of 30 miles, with a ceiling of 30,000 feet, and a speed of Mach 2.3. It was 26 feet long, 30 inches in diameter, and weighed 4,330 pounds. The M50's nuclear warhead came in three sizes: 10KT, 20KT, and 40KT. It's high explosive conventional warhead weighed 1,500 lbs. Starting in 1973, the M50 was phased out in Europe and was replaced by the MGM-51 Lance nuclear-armed battlefield missile.

[Sources: U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal & Bill Gunston: "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rockets and Missiles".]

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