T-4 Atomic Demolition Munition

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The T4 Atomic Demolition Munitions (ADM) were modified versions of the W9 nuclear artillery shells.

History[edit]

The T4 was produced in 1957 from recycled W9 fissile components and was in service until 1963, when it was replaced with W30 Tactical Atomic Demolition Munitions and W45 Medium Atomic Demolition Munitions.

The T4 and W9 are gun type uranium nuclear bombs (see Nuclear weapon design for more details). Few details on the T4 variant have been officially released, but the W9 11 inch artillery shell was 11 inches (28 cm) in diameter, 54 inches (137 cm) long, and weighed either 803 or 850 pounds.

Media coverage[edit]

An article in the mid-1990s in Soldier of Fortune magazine by a former US Navy Underwater Demolition Team member described the T4 ADM without naming it. The description was moderately detailed, including that the T4 was assembled out of a number of separate components:

  • A gun barrel assembly, with the fission bullet and propellant and detonator preloaded
  • A base assembly, which the gun barrel screwed into, which was normally handled empty
  • Three heavy HEU rings, which were added to the base assembly and came in separate carrying cases

These five components would be assembled by first transporting all five components to the target area, then loading the three uranium rings into the base assembly, then screwing the gun barrel assembly into the base. According to the article, two combination locks with different combinations were then activated by different team members, then the weapon could be armed and the timer set. Each component was reportedly heavy enough that it was a full load for one team member.

Reportedly, a major operational issue with planned usage of the T4 was that the success rate of parachuting five team members into hostile territory at sea with a heavy load and having them all land close together, uninjured, and able to complete transporting the weapon components and assembling it was highly unreliable. Several practice exercises failed to complete when one or more team members landed too far away or were injured. Future ADM units were single-component and while they might require several people's codes to arm, were a single physical unit which did not need field assembly.

See also[edit]

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