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Malkara, anti-tank guided missile

The early work of the new Australian research laboratories, part of the fledgling Research and Development Branch of the Department of Supply and Development, commenced with the recommendation that Australian scientists seek to develop a guided weapon for use in anti-tank and anti-aircraft roles. Already, in August 1950, preliminary work had begun on an Australian-designed wire-guided missile called Project ‘E’. This technology formed the basis of what became the Malkara missile that was the first guided weapon system to be introduced into the British Army.

This Australian anti-tank missile was developed in 1951, following up on German wartime research especially in wire-guidance. The Australian Government supported the development with assistance from the Aeronautical Research laboratories of the department of Supply in Britain. The development of Malkara, a heavy anti-tank wire-guided weapon system, began in 1952 at the Government Aircraft Factory as a collaborative project between the Aeronautical Research Laboratories and Long Range Weapons Establishment. J.M. (Murray) Evans, a research scientist specialising in stability and control of flight vehicles at the ARL, was appointed Project Officer and Chief Designer, though the concept was credited to Alan Butement.

From the start, a physically large missile was planned, which created the need for vehicular deployment. The Malkara had sighting flares mounted on 2 of the wings to assist in its guidance. The dual-thrust solid propellant motor drove the 26.1kg (57.5lb) High Explosive Squash Head (HESH) containing 15.9kg (35lb) of explosive to the armoured target. The HESH system is a specialist anti-armour warhead, which, instead of penetrating the armour, detonates on the outside with such violence that pieces of armor are spalled off the inner face.

Malkara was a stubby rocket, 1.8 meters in length and 20 centimetres in diameter, weighing 98 kilograms. The rocket was propelled by a solid fuel motor that was one of the first rocket motors developed in Australia after being designed at the Propulsion Research Laboratory at the Long Range Weapons Establishment. A ‘pilot’ steered the rocket by sight to a target using a joystick to transmit signals down a thin cable that was paid out as it flew. A gyroscope automatically corrected any tendency to roll. The early versions of Malkara had an effective range of between 450 meters and 1800 meters, with a flight time of about 15 seconds. Later versions had twice this range.

The design was completed in 1954 and trials started at Woomera in 1955 and at Kirkudbright in Britain in 1956. Two Malkaras were fitted to Hornet Scout cars for use by the British Royal Armoured Corps.

Woomera trials led to the British Army ordering 150 missiles for evaluation and, following successful trials in the United Kingdom, an additional 1000 in August 1959. Malkara production continued until 1964, and the experience gained in its development was later used in the design and development of the Ikara anti-submarine weapon.

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Page last modified: 19-07-2016 14:04:38 ZULU