The Corporal held many "firsts." It was the first operational guided missile, and the first to be approved for a nuclear payload. Known as the embryo of the U.S. Army’s missile programs, the Corporal was a surface-to-surface guided missile which could deliver either a nuclear or conventional high-explosive warhead up to a range of 75 nautical miles. It was America’s first operational guided missile and featured a beam-riding guidance system and gyro-controlled graphite jet exhaust vanes. By deflecting the exhaust gases, these vanes stabilized the missile early in its flight, until air speed was enough for the external rudders to become effective.
The Corporal missile was a product of the ORDCIT Project, the first Army Ordnance integrated project created to progress from a test vehicle to a guided missile. This missile system, which eventually demonstrated high performance and accuracy characteristics and good reliability, was developed as a natural progression of the ORDCIT program, which started with the PRIVATE-A and PRIVATE-F, continued with the WAC CORPORAL and CORPORAL-E, and finally became a separate weapon development program.
The MGM-5 was first successfully fired on May 22, 1947. Redstone Arsenal assumed complete control of the Corporal project in January 1951. When the Corporal became operational in 1954 upon a sale to the United Kingdom, it also became the first American guided missile destined for service in a foreign country to be used by a foreign power. Deployed during the Cold War, Corporal battalions were intended for tactical use in the event of Soviet incursions into Eastern Europe.
The U.S. Army's CORPORAL, the first US ballistic guided missile, was about 45 feet long with control fins located on the ends of the large stabilizing fins. It weighed about five tons fueled and ready for launching. CORPORAL, with a range of more than 75 miles, could be equipped with either an atomic or conventional type warhead. The CORPORAL was the first surface-to-surface ballistic guided missile to be produced and made available to the Army Field Forces for tactical use. The system had a circular probable error of less than 300 meters and an in-flight reliability of approximately 75 percent [as compared to less than 50 percent in 1955].
The Corporal was a deep corps support missile. The first U.S. Army Corporal battalion was deployed in Europe in 1955. By the end of 1957 approximately 900 CORPORAL missiles had been produced, and at the end of FY 58, there was approximately 190 missiles available for U.S. stockpile. Six U.S. battalions were deployed and remained in the field until March 1, 1963, the Corporal weapon system was phased out of the field as the more capable solid-fueled MGM-29 Sergeant became available. It was reclassified as obsolete on July 1, 1964.
The Corporal could deliver either a nuclear or high-explosive warhead up to a range of 86 miles (138 km). Key Specifications Length: 45 feet Diameter: 2 feet 6 inches Fin Span: 7 feet Max Range: 80 miles Weight: 6 tons Warhead: Conventional high-explosive or Thermonuclear (W-7)
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