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The Loudest Sirens Ever Built Were Powered By?
Rocket Engines
Laser Arrays
Nuclear Reactors
V8 Engines

Answer: V8 Engines

The loudest siren ever built was, and remains, the Chrysler Air Raid Siren. These sirens were manufactured during World War II and the Cold War to serve as extremely loud and far reaching air raid warning devices.

How extremely loud? The sirens featured a bank of six enormous horns connected to a diaphragm system powered by a huge FirePower Hemi V8 engine and could produce a siren wail at 138 dB. The sirens could be heard 20-25 miles away depending on the terrain features. Each siren weighed 2.7 tons, was built atop a Dodge truck chassis rail, and produced 180 horsepower to drive the siren.

Federal agencies funded installation of these massive sirens, known as “Big Red Whistles” on account of their fire-engine-red paint jobs, in cities across America. Although now almost entirely decommissioned, there are still dozens of the loud behemoths tucked away on rooftops and towers across the United States. Although operational Chrysler Air Raid Sirens are few and far between these days, citizens of Oakland, California still get treated to an operational test of one of the giant sirens at noon on the first Wednesday of each month.

Image courtesy of the Rochester Municipal Archives.