M65 Atomic Cannon - Production
Work on the 280-mm gun, received the designation T131, was completed by the end of 1950, and its first prototype was completed in the spring of 1951. Production of the T131 continued until 1953, during this period only 20 guns were manufactured.
The coordinated efforts of Army Ordnance and the gun's manufacturers resulted in the production of this weapon. Considering the complexity of it's design, the numerous new production techniques involved and the difficult problems of material procurement, the first assembly line unit was produced in record time. The pilot model was produced at Army's Ordnance Watertown Arsenal, Watertown Mass. The barrel and Breech was manufactured by Ordnance's Watervliet Arsenal, Watervliet NY, which continued to make these items for all units.
The first production model of carriage and mount assembly was produced by Dravo Corporation on a prime contract with the Pittsburgh Ordnance District. For this assembly alone the combined facilities of Dravo's structural steel fabricating, heavy and light machining, heat treating, electrical, piping and welding shops are required. Nearly 2200 blueprints govern the assembly. Work was performed to 86 different standard military, government and civilian specifications. Huge machine tools are used to cut, bore and plane many different kinds of metal and unique jigs and fixtures had to be designed and fabricated.
The T-10 transporter units were manufactured by Kenworth Motor Truck Corporation of Seattle, Washington, largest and longest established truck manufacturer in the western half of the United States, In the modern Kenworth factory are manufactured some of the world's most highly specialized motor vehicles.
For each carriage there are two 4x4 transporters one with the cab forward as in conventional trucks, and one with the cab at the rear. Especially engineered hydraulic hoisting equipment picks up and lowers the carriage and mount assembly. The carriage can be transported at speeds up to 35 miles an hour. The unit as a whole can move forward. backward or sideways since either tractor unit can pull while the other pushes, or they can turn at right angles to the center section and proceed parallel to one another.
Gross vehicle weight rating of the T-10 transporter is more than 85 tons. Length is 84 feet, 2 inches. Each tractor unit is powered by an Ordnance-Continental air cooled gasoline engine which develops 375 gross horsepower.
Recoil mechanisms, manufactured by R. Hoe & Company, New York, NY, were shipped to Dravo for installation in the assembly. In recoil, the entire carriage slides back on its central turntable and rear pan. A Hydro-pneumatic mechanism connected to the carriage brings it back to normal position. The carriage slides on stainless steel guides riding on bearing pads.
Months of painstaking research and testing were required in the development of this weapon and completion of the first production models had written another chapter in the history of American military and industrial teamwork.
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