W33 (nuclear weapon)

W33 (Nuclear Weapon)

W33 (nuclear weapon)

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The W33 was an American nuclear artillery shell, fired from an 8 inch (203 mm) M110 howitzer.

There were a total of 2,000 W33 shells produced. It was first produced in 1957 and saw service until 1992.

Disinformation or inaccurate reports

Information regarding the W33 has suggested that it was either a double gun and/or that it may have used an annular barrel assembly. The device's internal mechanism was apparently code-named Fleegle. A double gun mechanism reduces the required velocity of each projectile by half, which reduces the gun system weight by a factor of 8. An annular bore may allow a larger projectile which remains subcritical by itself (a hollow projectile has lower effective density, and critical mass scales with the square of density). Titanium was used in order to save weight in some components. Judging by the remaining photographic evidence, it is likely that the exterior casing of the artillery shell itself was made of titanium. This is logical, given that the copper-alloy driving band around the base of the shell is the only part of the shell which engages with the rifling on the artillery piece's barrel.

The W33 mechanism has been reported to have comprised two critical nuclear parts which were required to assemble a complete W33 warhead. The initial disassembly of stockpiled W33 warheads in 1992 proceeded first by disassembling all existing parts for one of the components,...
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