6. Tactical Nuclear Weapons emerged in the 1950s
In 1949 the Soviet Union detonated their first atomic bomb, forever changing the world and deepening the divisions of the Cold War. The United States, though still possessing a superiority in the number of available weapons, faced numerical inferiority in the number of troops facing the Soviets and their puppet states in Europe, which was still in the process of being rebuilt from the destruction of World War II. American military planners increased their study and plans regarding the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, to be deployed in the support of combat troops in the field. This required nuclear capability on a smaller scale, in regards to the actual size of the weapon. US scientists and technicians developed a series of smaller-scale weapons including the W54, an implosion weapon with an equivalent yield of 10 tons to 1,000 tons (1K) of TNT.
The warhead was designed to be deployed with modifications on systems such as the Davy Crocket Weapon System, a recoilless gun which launched a short-range missile from a tripod base. The weapon was designed to be used against Soviet armor in Europe and North Korean armor in Korea. The weapon could also be used against mechanized infantry, or large formations of infantry on foot. The West German military was particularly enthralled with the idea of deploying the Davy Crockett against Soviet troops and lobbied for their army to be supplied with the weapon. The weapons were operated by a team of three men, and deployed in Europe by American troops which were tasked with defending the German border, including against invasion via the Fulda Gap, an area of critical importance during the Cold War. Each weapon was capable of destroying and irradiating an area of about two city blocks.