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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

GAM-63 Rascal - Design

Designed as an all-weather airborne instrument of combat, the Rascal GAM-63A Weapon System provided strategic bombardment aircraft with an increased capability for attacking and destroying heavily defended targets with little possibility of being detected or intercepted. Major elements of the weapon system were: (1) the GAM-63A missile; (2; the DB-47 director aircraft; (3) ground support equipment; and (4) training aids.


The GAM-63A was a rocket-propelled, air-to-surface, guided aircraft missile with a gross weight of about 18,300 pounds, half of which is propellants. Principal dimensions are: over-all length, 32 feet; maximum outside body diameter, 4 feet; and maximum horizontal span, 17 feet. The missile airframe combined a cylindrical semimonocoque fuselage with a canard cruciform wing configuration. Structurally, the airframe consisted of five major sections: the radome nose, forward body, warhead section, center body (tank) section, and aft body shell. These divisions are based upon functional requirements, as well as system and component accessibility and ease of shipment.

For its specific employment in the GAM-63A Weapon System, the Rascal missile comprised four closely integrated component systems: (1) a liquid-propellant rocket power plant; (2) a servopilot and antenna stabilization system; (3) a range-computing inertial guidance system, incorporating a radar relay and command override feature; and, (4) a special warhead and fuzing system. The rocket power plant, utilizing inhibited fuming nitric acid and jet fuel as propellants, delivers 12,000 pounds thrust to accelerate the missile to supersonic velocity during its climb to level flight altitude.

During the gyro-stabilized midcourse portion of flight, the missile follows a programmed course as dictated by its inertial guidance system. A range computer measured the horizontal distance traveled from the point of launch and caused the missile to enter a preset dive to target. During the terminal dive, a search radar in the radome of the GAM-63A scanned the target area and relayed missile position and target data to a guidance station in the director aircraft. This information was used to establish course-correcting command signals that are relayed to the missile as required to hit the target.


The director aircraft that form an integral element of the Rascal Weapon System are modified B-47 strategic bombardment airplanes, redesignated DB-47. Their primary mission is to carry the GAM-63A missile to a point within 90 nautical miles of a target and to provide for its proper launching and guidance after launch.

In addition to an MA-8 bombing-navigational system, the director aircraft were equipped with: (1) an automatic system to checkout the GAM-63A quickly and completely before launch and, working in conjunction with the MA-8 system, to release the missile automatically; (2) a relay link system to establish and maintain continuous microwave contact with the missile; and (3) a control station that enables a guidance operator to monitor the flight path of the missile and, if necessary, to initiate course corrections during the midcourse and terminal dive phases of flight.


Items of ground support equipment for the GAM-63A Weapon System were separated into three major categories: servicing, handling, and checkout. This equipment encompasses all items that were not an integral part of the missile or director aircraft, but are necessary to service, repair, test, and otherwise prepare the weapon for its mission. Servicing equipment included the fuel and oxidizer traiiers ad the nitrogen boost trailer. Handling and transport items comprise carriages and dollies, assembly stands and slings, and packaging squipment. Checkout and test equipment is provided for the maintenance of electronic, electrical, and hydraulic systems in both the missile and director aircraft.


Rascal training equipment provided the means for indoctrinating and training maintenance and operations personnel of the Air Force in various phases of weapon system application. Equipment required by the Air Force comprises a mobile trainer unit for teacing theory of operation ad techniques of maintenance in the field, and a guidance operator trainer for Aerial Observer Bombardiers. Additional equipment included: mobile classroom demonstrators containing functional component systems of the missile and director aircraft; flight teams of F-80/B-50 aircraft modified to simulate the GAM-63A/DB-47 combination in actual air-to-surface training; and appropriate test units, bench test sets, and instruction manuals.

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Page last modified: 26-08-2018 04:44:00 ZULU