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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

D-6 - The First Soviet Solid-Fuel SLBM

Two versions of the D-6 launch system for solid-fuel missiles were researched by OKB-7 (KB Arsenal) in Leningrad between 1958 and 1960. One used a missile with a cluster of four separate motors using propellants that were already in production for use in used on the 3P9 missile of the 2K6 Luna complex unguided tactical rockets. The second version focused on a new missile incorporating new solid propellants using a crystal oxidizer and fuel, with the first and second stages consisting of a single of rocket motor. The overall dimensions of either missile would have been too large for a launching tube inside the pressure hull, so the D-6 launcher design called for two tubes on each side of the outside of the hull. To fire the missiles the submarine would surface and the tubes would be turned into a vertical position. The preliminary design of the launch system was completed in 1960. The beginning of detailed design development of the D-6 complex was directed on 18 June 1960, but in June 1961 the program was cancelled.

Development of strategic naval missile complexes in the United States and the Soviet Union initially was based on using liquid-fuel ballistic missiles. In the United States after the first failures, progress was made on the solid fuel Polaris type missiles. In the USSR the results with ballistic missile with rocket engines with liquid fuel components were more fortunate. However, liquid rocket components (fuel + oxidiser) is more complex and unsafe to operate.

The early domestic ballistic missiles of submarines had a number of serious problems that made their exploitation difficult. The first samples of such weapons could not take off from under the water, and besides, it was not immediately possible to ensure long-term storage of fuel components directly in the rocket tanks. Because of this, some early submarines-carriers had to be equipped with special fuel tanks and rocket refueling systems. These and other disadvantages of early liquid rockets led to the appearance of a proposal to create a solid-propellant ballistic missile for submarines. The first such domestic product, which, nevertheless, failed to become a regular armament of the fleet, was developed as part of the D-6 missile system project.

During the creation of the first Soviet missile systems with underwater launch, in particular missile complex D-4 R-21 [SS-N-5 SERB], to improve the security and reliability of missiles on submarines was born the idea of creating for PL project 629 and 658 ballistic missiles with solid fuel motors. Almost simultaneously with the development of the D-4, there was an attempt to create complex D-6 with a missile with solid rocket motors.

The USSR Council of Ministers ordered defence technology, electronics, chemicals and shipbuilding industries to run research and development work to create complex ballistic missiles launched from underwater, with solid fuel engines, giving this complex index D-6, and also adopted the head performers experimental design and experimental works on using complex D-6 ("r") on submarines. The range missile should be not less than 800 km, envisaged research works the possibilities to create missiles with a range of up to 2500 km.

The main characteristics of the system were to correspond to the parameters of the D-4 complex with the R-21 missile, the development of which was initiated not long before. At the same time, it was required to develop a missile with dimensions at the level of the P-13 product. Quite quickly specialists of several scientific and design organizations formed two proposals concerning the appearance of the prospective complex and its rocket. The main differences between these preliminary projects concerned the type of power plants used and their fuel. The first draft - Version B - proposed the use of ballistic powder. The rocket was to be equipped with similar large-diameter motors similar in construction to those used on the 3P9 missile of the 2K6 Luna complex. The use of ready-made developments made it possible to speed up the process of creating a new missile and adopt it in the near future.

The second variant of the rocket - Version C - was to use motors of mixed fuel. This version of the project was much more complicated, as it required additional work to create more efficient solid fuel and could lead to additional waste of time. Nevertheless, in this case, it was possible to significantly improve the characteristics of the rocket in comparison with using ballistic powder. Thus, both versions of the missile had their advantages and disadvantages, which could affect the further course of the project and the characteristics of the finished products.

In mid-1960, two preliminary drafts were considered by the military and industry leaders. As a result of their consideration, the most favorable and convenient way of developing the D-6 project was chosen. It was decided to abandon ballistic fuel in favor of the mixture. Despite the need for additional work, the mixture fuel allowed to achieve higher performance. The decision was fixed by the decision of the Council of Ministers on June 18. The choice of fuel allowed to start the development of a full-fledged project, which later could go to testing and adoption.

The first version of the missile with ballistic fuel engines was of some interest in terms of design. To maximize the development and future production, it was proposed to assemble two stages of the rocket from a set of engine blocks. Each such unit was supposed to be a steel cylinder with a solid fuel charge, a tail nozzle and a set of additional equipment. Manage traction was suggested with the help of deflectors on the nozzles. Four such units were to be assembled in a step. The rocket was proposed to enter two stages of similar architecture with four separate engines on each.

The engines of the first variant of the D-6 missile had to use existing ballistic fuel of the type "Nylon-B", the production of which was already mastered by industry. This fuel was a colloidal nitrocellulose solution in nitroglycerin. This mixture has already been used in the engines of several missile systems of domestic development, including those in service.

On 04 June 1961, a new resolution was issued by the Council of Ministers of the USSR, according to which all work on the complex was stopped. The result of the regular discussion at the top was disappointing conclusions about the prospects of the D-6 system. The command of the armed forces and the leadership of the defense industry considered the new complex with a solid-fuel rocket unpromising. Further work on it was considered inexpedient.

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Page last modified: 03-05-2018 18:25:30 ZULU