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Nike Interceptors

Nike Zeus B was a far more capable missile than the A version due to a number of factors. It had a greater range, it was a three stage missile and it was designed to intercept targets outside the atmosphere. The main reason for this missile being developed was due to the dropping of the range restriction that had been imposed during 1956/7. By increasing the range, the missile could defend a much larger area which meant that fewer installations were required which provided some cost savings while still maintaining a defence.

The first stage was the same as that of Zeus A, but everything after that was new. The second stage had a slightly smaller diameter than the booster, while the third stage was slightly smaller again. The large fins that were so prominent on the Zeus A sustainer were gone, and replaced with small vanes at the top of the missile which provided some control while in the atmosphere. Once the missile had left the atmosphere control was obtained through the 3rd stage motor. Target destruction was obtained through the use of a nuclear warhead. This warhead was tested during 1962 at Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean.

With the Nike-X ABM system, studies went into an extended range version of the Zeus B, and that missile was called Nike Zeus EX. It was renamed as Spartan when Nike-X was renamed as Sentinel in 1967.

Nike Ajax Nike Hercules Nike Zeus A
Nike Zeus B
(XLIM 49A)
(LIM 49B)
Length 10.36 m over.
6.41m 2nd stage
12.53 m over.
8.18m 2nd stage
13.5 m 14.7 m 16.8 m
Diameter 0.30m 0.8 m booster
0.53m 2nd stage
0.91 m 0.91 m 1.09 m
Fin Span 1,22 m 3.5 m booster
1.88m 2nd stage
2.98 m 2.44 m 2.98 m
Mass 1,116 kg launch
523 kg 2nd stage
4,850 kg launch
2,505 kg 2nd stage
4,980 kg 10,300 kg 13,100 kg
Max Speed Mach 2.25 Mach 3.65 > Mach 4 > Mach 4 > Mach 4
Range 40 km 140 km 320 km 400 km 740 km
Ceiling 21,300 m 45,700 m ? 280 km 560 km
First Stage Liquid-fuel 263 kN, 2.5 s Hercules M42 978 kN Thiokol TX-135 1,800 kN Thiokol TX-135 2,000 kN Thiokol TX-500 2,200 kN
2nd Stage Liquid-fuel 11.8kN, 21 s Thiokol M30 44.4 kN ? Thiokol TX-238 Thiokol TX-454
3th STAGE - - - Thiokol TX-239 Thiokol TX-239
Warhead Conventional 3 warheads
(2 layers of in steel cubes)
Nose: M2 (2kg)
Mid: M3 (42kg)
Aft: M4 (27kg)
T-45 HE (500kg) with
272kg of HBX-6 M17
blast- fragmentation
Nuclear warhead only Nuclear warhead only Nuclear warhead only
Warhead Nuclear Conventional only W-31 nuclear
2 kt (M-97)
20 kt (M-22)
40 kt (M-23)
W-31 nuclear W-50 TN 400 kt W-71 TN 5 Mt

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