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Colonel Volgin prepares to launch a Davy Crockett at the Sokolov Design Bureau, in 1964.

This article is about a fictional representation of a real world subject.

The M-388 Davy Crockett, also known as the Davy Crockett Atomic Battle Group Delivery System was a tactical nuclear warhead designed in the early 1960s for use as a deterrent or tactical defensive weapon in a theater nuclear war in Europe. It was named after David Crockett, the American folk hero who died defending the Alamo during the Texan War of Independence. It was produced in 1961-1962 and fielded in active service until 1971.

Development and usage

Schematics for experimental Davy Crockett shell.

Developed from the proof of concept XW-51/54 nuclear devices of the Hardtack II tests, the Mark 54 and its warhead version, the W54 (used on the AIM-26 Falcon missile) became the lightest nuclear weapons in the United States' nuclear arsenal. It was produced from 1961-1962. About 400 warheads were produced before the system was retired in favor of cruise missile and artillery-based tactical systems. However, due to serious problems found within the launcher with its range and precision, it was never actually deployed into battle.

The M-388 Davy Crockett recoilless tactical nuclear launcher was a crew-served weapon that consisted of an XM-388 projectile launched from either a 120-millimeter (XM-28) or 155-millimeter (XM-29) recoilless rifle (the 120 millimeter version is shown here). This weapon had a maximum range of 2km (1.24 miles; 120 millimeter) to 4km (2.49mi; 155 millimeter). The XM-388 casing (including the warhead and fin assembly) weighed 35kg (76lbs), was 80cm (30´´) long and measured 28cm (11´´) in diameter (at its widest point). It is important to note that while the yield of the weapon is relatively small (ranging from only 10 tons to 1000 tons of TNT in production versions).

To give an idea of the explosive force involved, the Mark 1 gun-style fission bomb Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima produced a blast equivalent of between 12.5 and 15 kilotons (12,500 - 15,000 tons) of TNT. The small yield was necessitated by the launcher's relatively short range; any larger and the blast would likely injure or kill the men who fired it, as well as anybody around them. Nonetheless, the detonation of a Davy Crockett warhead is enough to disperse a substantial amount of nuclear fallout, and produce thermal effects far beyond those produced by conventional bombs.

Operation Snake Eater

See also: Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater

Volgin opens the containers housing the Davy Crockett warhead and launcher.

During the Virtuous Mission, The Boss gave two experimental Davy Crockett warheads (with a vastly higher yield than conventional ones) and a launcher, that she acquired from a U.S. military base, to Colonel Volgin as a gift when she "defected" to the Soviet Union. Volgin then used one to destroy OKB-754, triggering an international dilemma, and leading to Operation Snake Eater. The Boss later used the second shell to obliterate Groznyj Grad and Graniny Gorki. These particular shells had a nuclear dispersal radius of at least three miles.[1]

The cases in which The Boss carried the Davy Crockett system would have, combined, weighed over 300 kilograms (nearly 700 pounds). The fact that she was able to carry the weapons cases indicated her strength. The same could be said of Volgin, who picked up the launcher and warhead (normally mounted on a heavy tripod) and fired it by hand.

Post-Snake Eater

Warning: The following information is from outside Hideo Kojima's core "Metal Gear Saga." Its canonicity within the continuity is disputed, therefore reader discretion is advised.[?]

At some point, the Soviets managed to develop their own version of the Davy Crockett, copies of which were later stolen by the Department of Defense.

San Hieronymo Incident

Main article: San Hieronymo Incident

Cunningham preparing to fire a Soviet-made Davy Crockett at Naked Snake.

During the San Hieronymo Incident, Cunningham had a Soviet-made Davy Crockett, which he intended to use on the Soviet missile base once Gene had launched the ICBMG, as a means to cover up the Pentagon's involvement in the incident. However, after being defeated in battle with Naked Snake, Cunningham decided to use the warhead to ensure that Snake died with him, even if it would ruin the Pentagon's plan of tarnishing the CIA's reputation. Before he could do so, an explosion resulting from his damaged flying platform sent the launcher and nuke flying out of his hands, where it landed harmlessly onto the cargo elevator beside Snake.

Non-"Metal Gear Saga" information ends here.

Post-San Hieronymo

By 1971, the usage and mass-production of the Davy Crockett was discontinued.


A complete Davy Crockett device.


Notes and references

  1. ^ This is implied when Zero mentioned that Rassvet was affected with nuclear fallout in the aftermath of the Virtuous Mission when explaining how Snake would recognize ADAM when he saw him, with Rassvet itself, as well as Tselinoyarsk, being stated to be three miles west of the OKB-754, which had been obliterated by Volgin's launching of the aforementioned Davy Crockett.