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(U) As stated earlier, the need for an improved air defense weapon became apparent early in 1952, during the final development stage of the NIKE AJAX missile system. The problem stemmed from limitations of the AJAX system in dealing effectively with bomber formations, the units of which were too closely packed for individual resolution by the NIKE radar. These limitations became particularly severe when the spacing between the aircraft was larger than the lethal radius of the NIKE's conventional warhead. In recognition of these shortcomings, the Special Assistant for Mobilization Production, OCO, suggested on 11 March 1952 that a study be made to determine the feasibility of providing the NIKE missile with an atomic warhead. As a result of this suggestion and a series of requests from other Army Staff elements, the Chief of Ordnance, on 9 May 1952, asked BTL to investigate the feasibility of an antiaircraft guided missile carrying an atomic warhead and using the NIKE AJAX ground guidance system.l

Early Studies

(U) personnel of BTL and DAC, assisted in a consulting capacity by the Sandia Corporation and Picatinny Arsenal, completed a brief study of the problem in mid-July 1952 under the existing NIKE AJAX R&D contract (ORD-3182). They concluded that there were two equally feasible solutions to the problem, each possessing both merits and disadvantages. One would involve a rearrangement of the existing XW-9 gun-type warhead. The other solution would entail the design of a new and larger diameter (30-inch) missile which would carry the existing XW-7 warhead without modification. Experimental verification of the modified AJAX missile system could be expected 18 months after date of authorization, while for the new missile system this would require 36 months. On the other hand, the warhead of the latter system would be about three times more efficient in its use of fissionable material than that of the modified NIKE AJAX. The use of such a system, however, would involve severe operational problems, and further study of these would be required to demonstrate the ultimate utility of a system of this sort.

(U) The study group therefore recormnended that a more thorough engineering study be initiated to fill in the gaps left by the brief preliminary investigation, and to give more detailed attention to the specific design of the new and large diameter missile.2 The Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, on 13 August 1952, approved the proposed engineering study and authorized the use of funds available in Contract ORD-3182.3

(U) In the process of selecting the optimum air defense weapon system, the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, considered many systems and components then under development. The guiding considerations in the analysis were twofold: One was the need for providing an early capability weapon at a minimum cost; the other was the necessity of using a warhead permitting great flexibility of yield and maximum economy in use of fissionable material. At the time of the analysis, the NI1CE AJAX guided missile system had reached a fairly advanced and successful stage of development, and locations were being selected for establishment of defense sites throughout the country. It was therefore natural, for every technical, economical, and military reason, to consider primarily the use of a guided missile in conjunction with the NIKE AJAX ground equipment.

(U) Although the NIKE airframe modified to carry the TX-9 guntype warhead would provide the earliest capability weapon, it was ruled out because of the requirement for extensive missile redesign and the low efficiency in use of fissionable material. Missiles such as the CORPORAL, TALOS, and HERMES, that either were intended or could be made to carry an atomic warhead, could be modified for use with some part of the NIKE ground equipment; however, these would have to be so radically redesigned that any arrangement of that type would result in a completely new system.

(U) The program thus proposed by G-4 and approved by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans & Research, in December 1952, called for the development of a new version of the NIKE missile carrying the 30-inch XW-7 warhead and using the AJAX ground equipment. To take full advantage of the latter equipment, the missile would have to be capable of engaging maneuvering targets flying at altitudes up to 60,000 feet. Maximum use of AJAX ground equipment with minimum changes was economically essential in view of the heavy investment to be made in the system by 1955-56. Moreover, it offered the further advantages of proven reliability and minimization of training and maintenance problems. The XW-7 warhead, which was already under development for use with several guided missiles in the national program, not only fulfilled the requirement for flexibility of yield, but also met the criteria for economic use of fissionable material.4

Preliminary Design Studies

(U) In February 1953, OCO authorized BTL to proceed with preliminary design studies of the two-stage Model 1810 NIKE B* missile under Contract ORD-3182, but on a non-interference basis with the NIKE AJAX tactical prototype, contractor tests of which were just beginning. At the same time, the contractor was requested to study the problems such a missile would pose on the ground equipment and the feasibility of extending the system range beyond the 25-mile limitation of the existing AJAX ground guidance and control system. In keeping with the policy to use as many proven components as possible to reduce the development schedule to an absolute minimum, the preliminary aerodynamic parameters for the missile-booster combination were predicated on the use of a cluster of four AJAX XM-5 solid propellant boosters and a cluster of four AJAX liquid propellant sustainer motors.5

(U) In an informal presentation to OCO on 16 March 1953, BTL and DAC representatives outlined three possible systems of ground guidance and control equipment that would permit maximum intercept ranges of 25, 35, and 50 miles, respectively· The 25-mile system would require very few changes to the existing AJAX ground equipment, while the 35-mile system would entail a moderate amount of modification, and the 50-mile system a major redesign effort. Regardless of the range selected for the ground guidance equipment, however, the new version of the NIKE missile would be designed for 50-mile range. The preliminary proposal for the 3-year development program embraced the construction and test of 30 NIKE HERCULES missiles, with system tests and demonstration to be conducted during the period October 1955 to March 1956.6

(U) Later in March, the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved the Army's proposed NIKE HERCULES project and requested that development of the two-stage missile be undertaken with 1A priority. Also included in the approved effort was a parallel design study of a single-stage solid propellant missile. A final decision on modification of the NIKE AJAX ground equipment to permit intercept ranges beyond 25 miles was held in abeyance pending more detailed studies and the submission of a firm weapon system proposal in October 1953.7

(U) On 30 June 1953, the New York Ordnance District executed a new contract (DA-30-069-ORD-1082) with the Western Electric Company for design and development of the NIKE HERCULES missile system. The basic contract was for $2,261,400 and covered R&D work through December 1953, at which time the planning phase of the program was to be completed. Two weeks later, on 16 July 1953, the Secretary of the Army approved the establishment of the NIKE HERCULES project and the formal statement of military characteristics (MC's).8

(U) Briefly, the primary role of the second-generation NIKE system was to attack, with a single atomic warhead, formations of aircraft flying at speeds up to 870 knots (1.000 mph), at altitudes up to 60,000 feet, and at a horizontal range of 50.000 yards (110,000 yards desired) from the launching site. In addition to the primary warhead for engagement of multiple targets, the weapon system was to be supplied with an alternate conventional warhead for use against single aircraft or missiles. It also was desired that the system be provided with the capability of employment against ground targets, but this provision was not to compromise the primary surface-to-air application. Competing characteristics, in the order of priority, were as follows.

  1. Antiaircraft effectiveness.
  2. Reliability of system.
  3. Safety of friendly population and installations from accidental high or low order atomic detonation.
  4. Immunity to countermeasures.
  5. Ruggedness. (Ability to give trouble-free operation during, or after, exposure to extreme environmental conditions.)
  6. Ease of maintenance.
  7. Safety of friendly population and installations from any portion of the rocket which may be discarded in flight.
  8. Effectiveness in a surface role.
  9. Mobility.
  10. Standardization of major and minor components.
  11. Low maintenance costs.
  12. Low silhouette.
  13. Small required battle crew.

(U) Both NIKE AJAX and HERCULES missiles were to be capable of being fired from any and all sets of NIKE ground equipment. Hence, any modifications to the AJAX ground guidance equipment necessary to employ the NIKE HERCULES missile could not be such as to prevent firing of the AJAX missile from the same equipment. The guidelines for design of the HERCULES missile gave the development contractor the widest possible latitude in arriving at the final configuration to meet the specified warhead and system performance criteria. In the area of the propulsion system, for example, either liquid or solid propellants could be used, and the missile could be used, and the missile could be of the two-stage or single-stage design, depending upon the results of the parallel studies then underway. The MC's specified, however, that "boosters, if used, [should] be of the disposable type.9 For reasons which will be discussed later, this particular requirement was clarified in a subsequent revision of the MC's which added that a "self-destroying type jato is desired for use where safety considerations make use of normal jatos undesirable."l0

Proposed Weapon System and Schedule

(U) By late October 1953, sufficient design studies and laboratory work had been done to establish the general performance and physical characteristics of the HERCULES missile and to define the problems and costs of fitting this missile into the existing NIKE AJAX ground equipment. Personnel of BTL and DAC outlined the details of the proposed weapon system in a presentation to the Army General Staff on 21 October 1953 and to the Department of Defense (WD) Committee on Guided Missiles on 26 February 1954.

(U) In selecting the missile configuration for the 30-inch primary warhead, the contractor considered both the two-stage and single-stage designs. The results of the feasibility study by DAC disclosed that a single-stage, solid-propellant missile with probable superior performance to that of the two-stage version could be developed; however, such a missile would require significant technological advancements and would probably lag the contemplated Model 1810 program by as much as 2 years. Since the immediate objective of the HERCULES program was to provide a high energy warhead delivery capability at the earliest possible date, BTL reommended that primary effort be focused on development of the larger two-stage (Model 1810) vehicle using proven propulsion techniques and components of the AJAX missile, and that DAC be authorized to conduct a parallel design study of the boosterless solid-propellant missile for possible future use in the HERCULES system.

(U) The proposed two-stage Model 1810 missile used a cluster of four AJAX XM-5 solid propellant boosters and a cluster of four AJAX liquid propellant sustainer motors. As shown in the accompanying size comparison, the HERCULES missile-booster combination was about 7 feet longer than the AJAX. Its maximum diameter was 30 inches, compared with 12 inches for the AJAX missile. The gross launching weight of the complete HERCULES missile (including booster and warhead) was 9,800 pounds, in contrast to 2,500 pounds for the IWAX. The gross weights of the missiles (less booster) were 4,800 pounds and 1,200 pounds, respectively. As an extension of the NIKE AJAX, the HERCULES would retain the command guidance system, thus allowing the more complex guidance functions to be in the ground equipment. The initial HERCULES guidance section would be made up of the same plug-in chassis as employed in the new NIKE AJAX guidance section. Flight instrurments, such as gyros and accelerometers, would also be the same for both systems.

Size Comparison - Model 1810 NIKE HERCULES and nIKE AJAX Missiles (21 Oct 53)

(U) The original scope of work had been limited to the modifications necessary to convert NIKE AJAX ground equipment to an integrated HERCULES-AJAX system for the 25-mile range. The study was based on the premise that the NIKE HERCULES would be added one section at a time to a given NIKE AJAX battery, so that both AJAX and HERCULES missiles could be fired from the same ground equipment. During the detailed feasibility study, the BTL engineers found that the missile designed to go to the 25-mile range could be used for a 50-mile system in the surface-to-air role, and further, that this 50-mile missile could also be made to go to a range of about 100 miles in the surface-to-surface role. The cost of adapting the existing AJAX ground guidance and launching equipment to the 25-mile HERCULES missile would amount to 9.5 percent of the original cost of the equipment. In the case of the proposed extended-range (50-mile) HERCULES system, the modification cost was estimated at 23.6 percent of the original cost of the battery equipment. (See Table 1.)

(U) The BTL representatives reconrmended that work be continued on modifications to convert NIKE AJAX in the field to a HERCULES-AJAX system for the 25-mile range; that they be authorized to conduct concurrent development of additional modifications to extend the HERCULES range in the integrated system to at least 50 miles; and that they be authorized to proceed with the modification of one AJAX guidance system in the field to permit a HERCULES system demonstration at the extended range.

TABLE l--(U) Projected NIKE HERCULES Costs

Developmenta/ .
25-mile System $13,000,000
Long-Range System (Additional) 4,000,000

Field Modification (Battery Equiment)b/ .
NIKE AJAX to 25-mile NIKE HERCULES 170,000 Per Btry
NIKE AJAX to Long-Range HERCULES 335,000 Per Btry
25-mile HERCULES to Long-Range HERCULES 165.000 Per Btry

Complete Battery (New Production)c/ .
NIKE AJAX 1,442.000 Per Btry
25-mile NIKE HERCULES 1,500,000 Per Btry
Long-Range HERCULES 1,550.000 Per Btry

Missiled/ .
NIKE ATAX (Inert) 20,000 Per Msl
NIKE HERCULES (Inert) 34,000 PerMsl

Assembly Areae/ .
NIKE AJAX 653,000 Per Bn
NIKE HERCULES (Additional) 150,000 Per Bn

NOTES SOURCE: BTL Rept, NIKE B (HERCULES) Preen Before the DOD Com on Guided Missiles, 26 Feb 54. RSIC.

(U) Except for the addition of tasks associated with the extended-range system and an increase in the number of R&D test missiles (from 30 to 40), the recommended development schedule essentially duplicated that presented in the preliminary proposal of March 1953. The schedule (Chart 4)


called for system design and development, missile design, model construction, and tests culminating in an overall system demonstration at the 25-mile range in the first quarter of 1956. Development of the 25-mile ground guidance and control equipment modifications would be relatively simple and could be completed in a small fraction of the total schedule. With preliminary design work already underway on the extended-range guidance and control equipment modification of the acquisition and tracking radars, computer, displays, and other devices), it would be possible to complete development and construction of the R&D prototype in time to have the system tests conducted with the long-range missile during the first quarter of 1956.


(U) The HERCULES production schedule shown in Chart 5 represented BTL's opinion of a reasonable program that could be pursued safely and economically. In addition to detailing the leadtime data reflected in this chart, Mr. R. R. Hough of BTL pointed out that additional test missiles would be required in 1956 for a continued test and evaluation program, and that these missiles should be ordered no later than the third quarter of CI 1954.11

(U) Final action on BTL's missile system proposal came in 1954. In early March, the Office, Secretary of Defense approved the Model 1810 liquid propellant NIKE HERCULES system and authorized improvements to the NIKE AJAX ground guidance and control equipment for the 25-mile HERCULES-AJAX system.12 On 31 March 1954, WECo's R&D contract (ORD-1082) was supplemented for $7.7 million, extending the time of performance through December 1954 and increasing the amount of the contract from $2,261.400 to $9.961.400.13 The Army, on 26 May, coordinated its proposed program for demonstration of an extended-range HERCULES system at the eighth meeting of the Coordinating Committee on Guided Missiles.14 Five months later, in October, G-4 authorized the Chief of Ordnance to demonstrate the HERCULES system at extended range and to manufacture five prototype modification kits and associated equipment for converting AJAX batteries to control HERCULES missiles at the extrended range.l5

(U) The Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics reiterated that the primary objective of the program was to provide an atomic capability at the earliest practicable date consistent with reasonable nuclear efficiency and maximum use of the large amount of AJAX equipment then on hand and in production. He directed that maximum effort be applied toward completing development and demonstration of a system compatible with the contemplated CONUS NIKE AJAX employment (underground magazines), but also having mobility equivalent to AJAX units in a field army. Priority, however, would be given to the CONUS employment role.l6

(U) Meanwhile, the Douglas Aircraft Company, in July 1954, began preliminary design studies of the tactical prototype launching and handling equipment. Included in this effort was an examination of the best engineering and economic compromises that would assure maximum flexibility of AJAX and HERCULES equipment so that, where practicable, it could be used with either.17 On 29 November 1954, personnel of BTL and DAC outlined the details of the proposed equipment in a presentation to members of the Army General Staff. Briefly, the assembly and launching operations of the NIKE battery would consist of three different areas: the Assembly and Test Building, the Fueling and Warhead Area, and the Launching Area. Table 2 lists the equipment requirements for each of these areas and identifies those items which would be peculiar to the HERCULES, the new items for AJAX and HERCULES, the AJAX items requiring modification, and the items of existing AJAX equipment that could be used without modification. BTL personnel pointed out that early authorization to begin design and construction of prototype equipment would be essential in order to phase in with ground guidance equipment prototypes scheduled for delivery in the first half of 1957.18 In November 1954, BTL received authorization to proceed with the design and development of the tactical launching and handling equipment in accordance with concepts recommended in the BTL/DAC presentation, and to begin preparation of manufacturing information as required for these items.l9

TABLE 2--(U) Proposed Launching & Handling Equipment for NIKE Battery
(BTL/DAC Rept SM-L8670, 29 Nov 54)
Equipment Nr Rqrd
New For
New For
Assembly and Test Building . . . . .
1. Capping Compressor 1 . . . XX
2. Propulsion plumbing System Test Assembly. 1 . . XX .
3. Missile Dolly 3 XX . . .
4. Warhead Section Adapter 3 XX . . .
5. Main Body Hoist Beam 1 XX . . .
6. Auxiliary Power Unit Fueling Equipment 1 XX . . .
7. Missile Handling Rings 5 sets XX . . .
8. Hydraulic Test Stand 1 . . XX .
9. Test Assembly Missile Electrical Equip 1 . . XX .
10. Servicing Assembly Propellant Draining 1 . . XX .
11. Miscellaneous Tools and Equipment 1 . . XX .
. . . . . .
Fueling and Warhead Area . . . . .
1. Fuel Fill Equipment 1 . XX . .
2. Propellant Hoist Assembly 1 . XX . .
3. Oxidizer Fill Equipment 1 . XX . .
4. Warhead Section Dolly 1 XX . . .
5. Missile Hoist Beam 1 XX . . .
6. Warhead Section Hoist Beam 1 XX . . .
7. Booster Cluster Hoist Beam 1 XX . . .
8. Booster Cluster Dolly 1 XX . . .
9. Jato Hoist Beam 1 . . . XX
. . . . . .
Launching Area . . . . .
1. Launcher 3 . XX . .
2. Loading Racks 17 . XX . .
3. Loading Frame 1 . XX . .
4. Launching Rail 6 XX . . .
5. Portable Test Set 1 XX . . .
6. Portable Test Equipment Dolly 1 . . . XX
7. Launching Section Operation E~uipment 1 . . XX .
8. Launching Control Trailer 1 . . XX .
9. Missile Booster Transporter Trailer 2 . . . XX
10. Trailer Adapter 2 XX . . .



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