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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


GAM-63 Rascal - Program

The System 112A (Rascal) Project, formerly referred to as Project MX-776, was initiated by the Air Materiel Command, USAF, as a study program for the develpment of a subsonic air-to-surface missile (ASM) carrying a "special" [ie, nuclear] warhead. This program was amended to include a supersonic ASM; eventually the subsonic missile phase was discontinued.

In 1948, the project was divided into two concurrent programs: the X-9 Shrike and the GAM-63 Rascal. Bell Aircraft Corporation, as the prime Weapon System Contractor, immediately initiated the design, development, and fabrication of Shrike, a supersonic test missile (small-scale version of the GAM-63) with a 50-mile range and capable of carrying a 1000-pound special warhead. Work on the radar-relay system for the missile included the use of two JB-17's as a simulated missile/director aircraft team. These early investigations and subsequent work with modified JF-80 and JF-89 airplanes resulted in an improved guidance system for installation in the GAM-63A.

In 1950, Bell Aircraft was authorized to proceed with the detail design and fabrication of XGAM-63 missiles, and the first powered Shrike missile was launched successfully from a DB-50 R&D director airplane.

A major milestone was passed in September 1952 when the first XGAM-63 was flown under its own power. By the end of 1952, the Shrike program, which included 28 powered missiles, was successfully completed. At the close of 1953, two glide and four powered XGAM-62s had been flight-tested, the last containing full guidance equipment.

During 1954, the capabilities of the Rascal Weapon System were amply demonstrated during the flight testing of 18 missiles. These capabilities were demonstrated in search radar and microwave link operation, power plant performance and control, remote control of the missile during terminal guidance, and missile performance at high altitudes. A free-drop configuration and technique was devised and successfully proven during the launching of 10 missiles; the technique was now standard procedure. Vital structural and aerodynamic data were obtained from the flight test program.

The first two digits of the missile number indicate firing order; the last two digits indicate USAF air-frame delivery number. Thus, missile 1826 is the 18th to be launched, but the 26th airframe delivered to the USAF.

Pinpoint accuracy was demonstrated by missile No. 1826 which, under full guidance control, scored the first target bull's-eye of the Rascal flight test program.

In the first quarter of 1955, six Rascal missiles were launched from DB-50 airplanes. Two missiles, Nos. 2231 and 2430, scored direct target hits at missile ranges of approximately 38 nautical miles. This concluded the flight testing of Model D missiles and the use of B-50s as director aircraft.

On 05 May 1955, the first operational prototypemissile of the Model F series, GAM-63A No. 2849, was launched from a DB-36 R&D director airplane. This missile included inertial guidance and a simulated warhead. Missile No. 3054, flight-tested 14 July 1955, was the first launched from a DB-47 operational director.

Late in 1955, the System 112A development program was reorientated to emphasize reliability in the Rascal weapon. A firm comprehensive test program was established to provide an over-all increase in operational reliability with each successive missile. Repetitive acceptance and life tests, hot ground firings, and captive flight tests provided a weapon of continually increasing reliability. During the first quarter of 1957, GAM-63A's Nos. 4581, 4684, 4783, and 4891 were launched in the flight test program at Holloman Air Development Center, New Mexico.

Contracts worth $7,273,176 and $14,767,294 were placed in January for further R&D and product improvement. This was unexpected, since the feeling was that Bell were working on a somewhat aged concept. In June 1957 the House Appropriations Sub-committee said they were trying to save money by eliminating "duplicative and questionable non-ballistic projects." They did not mean only Navaho; Rascal was named, and called "marginal." In the event this "marginal" system won through, proving that a bird in the hand is worth having. The first production order came in August 1957, and was worth $14m.

About 40 GAM-63s were launched from B-36s and B-47s during the research and development flight-test program from Holloman A.F.B. in Mexico, which was completed in 1957. By this time Rascal was in production, and the first inventory missile was accepted at Eglin A.F.B. on October 30, 1957. The complete weapon system was assigned to operational status the following month. Production at Bell's Niagara Frontier Division was complete by the end of 1958. Several Rascals launched from DB-47s achieved hits within a circle of 1,500ft radius. Chief item of ground equipment is the combined transporter/lifter vehicle, which was produced by the Lull Manufacturing Co.: other support items were manufactured by Bell and American Machine and Foundry Co.



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