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Published on Nov 6, 2007
0800052 - Armed Forces Special Weapons Project Presents Atomic Guided Missiles - 1955 - 11:50 - Black&White and Color - This video features the nuclear weapons delivery systems of the late 1940s and early 1950s. The video shows spectacular launches and flights of the Corporal, Honest John, Regulus, Matador, Snark and Rascal missiles.
The U.S. Armys surface-to-surface Honest John missile, fitted with either the W-7 or the W-33 nuclear warhead, was designed to be field assembled under combat conditions. Honest John was 26 feet long with a diameter of 2 feet, 6 inches and a wingspan of 11 feet. The missile weighed approximately 6000 pounds and used eight spin rockets to assure accuracy. Approximately 2000 Honest John missile systems were deployed between 1953 and 1989.
Another Army missile, the Corporal, using a liquid propellant, had an 80-mile range and was fitted with the W-7 fission warhead. Deployed between 1953 and 1965, the Corporal missile was 46 feet long and weighed approximately 11,140 pounds.
Regulus I, the only Navy missile shown in the video, was a sea surface submarine launched, surface-to-surface, pilotless flying bomb. The missile, which carried a W-5 fission warhead, was in the stockpile from 1958 to 1963. Weighing approximately 14,322 pounds with a diameter of 4 feet, 6 inches, Regulus I had a range of 575 miles and could cruise at Mach 0.87.
The U.S. Air Forces Matador was another "flying bomb," or early cruise missile. While in the stockpile from 1956 to 1963, it was fitted with a W-5 warhead. With a length of 44 feet and a diameter of 4 feet, 6 inches, it had a wingspan of 22 feet, 11 inches. The Matador launch weight was approximately 15,500 pounds, and it had a range of more than 650 miles at a speed of 650 miles per hour.
In the 1950s, the Air Forces Strategic Air Command deployed several different types of guided missiles to enhance deterrent capabilities. One of the most unusual was the Snark, a subsonic, winged intercontinental missile. Essentially, the Snark was a small, turbojet-powered, unmanned aircraft that carried a W-39 thermonuclear weapon.
The Snark was fired from a short mobile launcher by two solid-fueled rocket boosters, and once airborne, it was powered by a single J-57 turbojet engine capable of cruising at 400 miles per hour. After a programmed flight of 1,500 to 5,500 nautical miles, the Snarks airframe separated from its nose cone, and the nuclear warhead followed a ballistic trajectory to its target. It was in the U.S. stockpile from 1958 to 1961.