tactical nukes in Nam

Discussion in 'Vietnam War' started by thomas pendrake, Jul 22, 2014.

  1. thomas pendrake

    thomas pendrake Active Member

    I had two different people I knew and trusted tell me of the apparent use of 150 mm tactical nukes in Vietnam. These were 150mm shells with the power of a 5ton blockbuster. Were there high explosive shells that were not nuclear for the 150 mm with that yield? Did anyone else see the use of such shells?
  2. GearZ

    GearZ Member

    I am not aware of a 150 mm artillery piece fielded by the US during that period. They may have been thinking of either the 105 mm or 155 mm howitzer.

    As to nuclear artillery being used: that rumor has been floating around for a while and, no, it likely never happened. If you are interested in the rationale as to why atomic weapons weren't used in that conflict, do some reading on the 1964 "Ball Memo" and the 1966-67 "JASON Report". In a nutshell, there were serious doubts, militarily, on the efficacy of deployment of such weapons. That and the potential political fallout, no pun intended, could have been catastrophically bad.

    Somewhat interestingly, in 1972, Nixon considered a nuclear option in attacking the North. Its recorded on the infamous "Nixon tapes" in a discussion between RMN and Kissinger.
  3. thomas pendrake

    thomas pendrake Active Member

    Since when has serious doubts about the efficacy of any weapon system stood in the way of profit in wars? I do know that there were shells for the so-called atomic cannon that were almost as bad as a small nuke. They are risky to use because they are not stable.
  4. thomas pendrake

    thomas pendrake Active Member

    My question had to do with specific instances in which what I assume were 155mm shells were fired and there was an explosion that was similar to "blockbuster" bombs, but no B-52s overhead. Were there any 155mm high explosive shells like that?
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
  5. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    From my understanding, the very idea of tactical nuke was to quickly and completely eliminate large concentration of enemy forces in one BOOM!
    In the Vietnam war, lets not to discuss if it is genocide or not to use nukes. On the basis of usefulness or necessarily, I don't see a point of using nukes. The Vietnamese forces were not that concentrated. They fought guerrilla tactics in small groups went in and out of jungles, villages, etc. You would have no target.

    Not to mention, in the case when the Vietnamese amassed a large force for major operation, they would just become easy target for US bombers. Conventional weapons could have taken care of it since the US had the overwhelming firepower when it came to face to face.
  6. thomas pendrake

    thomas pendrake Active Member

    A tactical nuke for a 155mm howitzer would be about the power of 72 tons of TNT, not like the shell for the m65 at 15 kt. Considering that both people described a blast similar to a 5 ton blocbuster, it was probably a high explosive shell or a coincidental hit to something else.
  7. Rockhem

    Rockhem Member

    In the Vietnam war, there wasn't really large concentrations of enemyies, and if you use a larger nuclear device, you just run the risk of killing many innocent civilians. Tactical nukes wouldn't have been very effective in Vietnam also due to the forests, how they make it harder to see large troop movements.
  8. taki

    taki New Member

    According to newly declassified documents I've read, we have had tactical nukes since 1955 or so. With that said, its not hard to believe that such weapons were used during the Vietnam war. And I believe they would have been very effective. No electronics of that era would have survived and the fires started would have been terrifying.
  9. preacherbob50

    preacherbob50 Active Member

    I really do not know, but I seriously doubt it. I was there from 68-69 and a
    weird thing was going on starting about mid 69. I was a door gunner on a Huey charley model ( gun ship) and it was emphasized that we could not suppress unless we were fired upon first. We paid little attention to that one, but the reasoning was silly. We could not exhibit greater hostilities than the enemy. Same reason given for napalm. The enemy didn't have it so we couldn't use it anymore. b-29 missions? Same-same G.I. No more Hanoi drops because, again, too much fire power. 2 experimental gun ships built by Sikorsky were shipped back to the U.S. Reportedly because of too much vibration. I found out later the reason was, again, too much fire power. So, while I do believe such a move to use Nukes might have been discussed, I imagine it would have fell into the same category's as the examples I gave.
  10. GearZ

    GearZ Member

    While possible, it is very unlikely. Could imagine what the Soviet propaganda machine would have done with the evidence? The Red Chinese also would have been very displeased with radiological material weaponry being used in their area would have taken action.
  11. preacherbob50

    preacherbob50 Active Member

    I was stationed in Long Bien which was, at the time, the worlds largest ammo dump. I hope I spelled the area right. I wasn't asked to spell the place, just fly combat missions out of there. I digress. Whenever my ship was down for maintenance i would do one of three things. Go to Bien Hoa to the 2nd field force club and get drunk, high, whatever, or stay in my hooch and get drunk,high, whatever or go over to the ammo dump and hang out with some of the GIs and go have a looky loo. None of the guys ever mentioned any nukes and I never saw any nuke warning signs. Bien Hoa had part of the 101st abn stationed there and I knew a few of the grunts as well as some arty guys. Again, no one said anything about nuking anyone except that we should drop a couple on Hanoi and do the entire country a favor, but that would have been an AF job, not arty, and would have ended that war right then. But that would have meant ticking off the Russians and the Chinese which is a minor issue. Fact is, politicians wouldn't have much to politic any more and we know that politicians just aren't happy unless they are politikin' no matter how many American soldiers get killed.

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