War Machine, Volume 8

Early Strategic Missiles The introduction of long-range bombardment missiles by Germany at the end of World War II ushered in an era of weapons development which over the last four decades has tested the limits of science technology and the destructive ingenuity of mankind. While the concept of the guided missile is ancient it was capable of realization only very recently because available technology was unable to create an effective guidance system With the exception of the naval torpedo no serious guided missile was attempted until well into World War I and then it was only the air-dropped ones that could ado useful job. What is the point in having a miniature aeroplane packed with explosives and fitted with precision radio command guidance if the man doing the controlling (from a distance of many miles) cannot seethe target? SSMs (surface-to-surface missiles) got into business with the crude but effective ‘V-1 'described in this study. It was very soon partnered inaction by the totally different 'V -2' and these were made possible only by the fact that precision guidance was not attempted their targets were entire cities In both cases however the missiles incorporated the germ of an idea for self-contained guidance which in the course of many years could become super-accurate Perhaps remarkably today we have modern successors to both these pioneer SSMs using descendants of both their guidance methods. The successors of the V-l are called cruise missiles and they have enjoyed augmented interest since 1977 when it was proclaimed by President Carter as a completely new idea which suddenly rendered the B-l bomber unnecessary! The late 1950s saw the heyday of the strategic cruise missile, with weapons such as the Northrop Snarken tering service with the US Air Force’s Strategic Air Command. For the next 15years however the ballistic missile proved a more attractive proposition for funding. During the previous 25 years the cruise missile took a backseat, though both the TM-76 Mace and SM-62 Snark went into service with the USAF and the Regulus I and II both became operational aboard sub­marines of the US Navy. Partly on the score of vulnerability such weapons faded from the scene after 1960 astronomical sums having been spent instead on every conceivable kind and size of ballistic missile. All in some degree descended from V -2 these wingless projec­tiles are normally launched standing vertically upright which has often maple it difficult to achieve mobility quick reaction time and high rate of fire.' Except for the brilliant Blue Water (which being British was inevit­ably cancelled) all the ballistic missiles featured in this analysis were powered by liquid-propellant rocket engines. This meant complexity, potential unreliability and the use of extremely toxic and corrosive acids and/or intensely cold liquefied gases The latter could not even be pumped into the missile until it was wanted for firing and in the case of weapons as large as SS-6 and Atlas it meant that the reaction time could hardly be less than half an hour. The first ICBMs required elaborate fixed launch sites. Often the only fully- equipped test facility was Cape Canaveral with day and night launches becoming a great tourist attraction.
Add Names

Disclaimer

We have sought to ensure that the content of this website complies with UK copyright law. Please note however, that we may have been unable to ascertain the rights holders of some items. Where we have digitised items, we have done so with items that to the best of our knowledge, following due investigations, are in the public domain. While the original works are in the public domain we reserve all rights to the usage of the digital works.

The document titled War Machine, Volume 8 is beneath this layer.

To view this document now, please sign up as a full access member.

Free Account Registration

Please enter your first name
Please enter your surname
Please enter a valid email address
Please enter your password
By creating an account you agree to us emailing you with newsletters and discounts, which you can switch off in your account at any time

Already a member? Log in now
Small Medium Large Landscape Portrait