# Did Project Horizon draft any proposals for small arms weapons for astronauts?

The 1959 Project Horizon discusses building a base on the moon, and also, according to the Wikipedia article, mentions weapons to be used for (of course) fighting the Soviets attacking the moon base, on the moon itself.

To quote it:

"The base would be defended against Soviet overland attack by man-fired weapons:

Unguided Davy Crockett rockets with low-yield nuclear warheads
Conventional Claymore mines modified to puncture pressure suits"


However, there is no citation for this on Wikipedia, and I'm curious if other weapons were proposed.

It seems ludicrous to only arm soldiers on the moon with only rocket launchers sporting nuclear warheads.

What other weapons, if any, did they propose in Project Horizon?

If Project Horizon didn't propose anything else, has anything been proposed since then?

• A quick skim through both volumes of the Project Horizon documents turned up no references to personal weapons. – Organic Marble Jan 11 '20 at 19:31

The same ideas (and in some cases the same text) get repeated in a bunch of places (occasionally without modification) and without source which was not a compelling start. There were no references to actual arms, small or otherwise, in the readily available Volume I and II of the Project Horizon report. One commercial bookseller publishing a collection of Project Horizon stuff claims that Volume III of the report remains classified, and that seemed likely to be the one with the goods in, disappointingly.

With sufficient searching though, I finally turned up this little reference from Small Arms Review, which observed that it was no longer classified and even went as far as to provide a nice free download link, full of all sorts of goodies. They obtained access from Shrivenham Small Arms Library which is not a facility open to the public. This is the only source I found for the document, so it doesn't necessarily have particularly good provenance... compare the awkwardness of getting Volume III compared to the ease of finding I and II. It still seems to have been either only partially scanned or was partially redacted, as it only contains chapter 3, and no other part (such as an index). There's at least another 100 pages out there somewhere...

That aside, it gives us things like this:

the key observation being that the backblast of a claymore is somewhat less hazardous in a vacuum, making it practical to use one onna stick.

As promised by the unsourced wiki text, conventional claymore mines and Davy Crockett-type man-portable rocket launchers were also considered, though the latter included a provision for non-nuclear warheads. Also mentioned are grenade launchers and a pistol that fired buckshot (for ease of aiming). There's other scifi goodness in there too, such as

A proposal to study an Electron Accelerator as a weapon was reviewed and it appears feasible to deveolp a linear accelerator capable of projecting a focused beam of gamma radiation of sufficient density to develop adequate doses of neutron and gamma radiation in the target material

which sounds like complete technobabble garbage to me, but who knows. They do at least admit that such a thing would be too hard to develop in a useful timescale and probably too heavy, too.

Anyway, dangling wiki reference issue solved, and a fascinating bit of work regardless of whether it is genuine or not.

With regards to future work, one reference that pops up a few times, probably because of its name, is the 1965 work The Meanderings of a Weapons Oriented Mind When Applied In A Vaccum Such As On The Moon with a splendid subsection entitled "Possible Weapon Concepts Whose Feasibilities Have Not Been Determined But Are Presented As Ideas To Stimulated Thinking", which seems to roughly translate as a weapons list for a scifi RPG, complete with specs and illustrations. Not as cheesily awesome as the ones in the Project Horizon report above, alas.

I've no doubt other work has been done since, but is likely to be of a less cheerily speculative nature and more of a practical one, and as such seems likely to still be classified.

If anyone from the US was feeling particularly keen, maybe they could make an FOIA request? Assuming any other copies of the work still exist and it was indeed declassified, it might be possible to locate them or at least see if this one is a work of fiction.

• Great stuff! Thanks for digging up Volume 3. – Organic Marble Jan 11 '20 at 22:06
• Interesting find. The second picture though does look more like illustration to a Sci-Fi book rather than to a real-life report (the look of mountains, the antenna on the helmet, enemy falling too artistically, why land in such a narrow valley?). Also what about recoil from such a mine-stick? Wouldn't it seriously destabilize the astronaut firing it? – Sergiy Lenzion Jan 11 '20 at 22:14
• @LeoS check out the "flight simulator" picture on page 47 of Volume 1. It's pretty artistic as well. – Organic Marble Jan 11 '20 at 22:41
• @OrganicMarble Yes, that one is artistic too. But that spiral antenna though... There is depiction of anticipated space suit on page 16 of Volume 1. It shows straight antenna. Why would a picture from Vol.3 show less realistic suit than already pictured in Vol.1 and a spiral non-realistic sci-fi antenna on top of the helmet? – Sergiy Lenzion Jan 11 '20 at 23:04
• @LeoS those skate things on their feet are pretty crazy too. – Organic Marble Jan 11 '20 at 23:05