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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


The RT-1 was the Soviet Union's first attempted design development of a three stage solid propellant strategic missile that went through several design changes. At least two primary designs have been revealed so far before the introduction of the RT-2, SS-13, ICBM and the RT-2P, SS-14 IRBM. The late slowly evolving technology was pushed and protected by Minister Dmitry Ustinov as a hoped for replacement for the SS-11 small liquid propellant ICBM of the USSR.

The program was started in 1958 during the middle of the, then 6th five year plan from January 1, 1956 - January 1, 1960 and would continue into the next 7th Five Year Plan January 1, 1961 - January 1, 1966.

By November 1958, together with NII-125, a report was prepared in three volumes, substantiating the possibility of creating a solid-propellant ballistic missile with a range of 2000 km. Together with NII-125, a so-called group, in which 40-year-old Academician Igor Sadovskiy was the most experienced solid-propellant expert, published a three-volume report proving that it was possible to produce a medium-range missile using “ballistite” powder, which was supposed to be produced in the form of large-diameter pressed powder charges. Ballistite is a type of smokeless powder, or smokeless rocket propellant, composed of roughly equal proportions of the explosives nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine. Ballistite was the original double based smokeless powder, invented and produced by Nobel, in England. From this was developed Cordite and other double-based powders. Originally tried as a powder for rifle cartridges, it was found too erosive (burnt the metal in the chamber throats and rifling); it was found ideal for shotgun and some pistol cartridges. Paul Vieille tested in the 1880's smokeless Cordite and Ballistite, in addition to his own poudre B. The document was presented to the chairman of the State Committee for Defense Technology KN Rudnev. The meeting was not easy. Rudnev broadly wrote: "Korolev, Sadovsky, Zhukov, Pobedonostsev said this work should be carried out as soon as possible, and in the first stage it is necessary to create a rocket - 2000 crossed out - with a range of 2,500 kilometers.

Decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR of November 20, 1959 No. 1291-570 called for " development of a guided ballistic missile ( RT-1 ) on solid fuel with the following main characteristics:

- the maximum target range of fire under normal atmospheric conditions without taking into account the rotation of the Earth - 2500 km;

- control system in two versions: combined and autonomous, the total weight, reduced to the weight of the last stage for each option - not more than 150 kg;

- the maximum deviation from the target at launches at the most targeted range (for the combined system): in range - ± 5 km, in lateral directions ± 4 km. For an autonomous control system, the accuracy of the shooting should be no worse than that of the R-12 missile , and is specified after consideration of the draft design;

- launch rocket weight - no more than 35 tons;

- Combat charge special [... | with automation, initiation system, power supply, contact and non-contact sensors [...];

- fuel - solid - "Nylon-B";

- launch - vertical from the silo or from the outer launch pad;

- the product and the ground equipment complex should be on combat readiness at the starting position for at least 3 years and be ready to start according to the predetermined goal within no more than 15 minutes from the moment of receiving the launch command.


To approve the works of RT-1 as the main contractors:

- OKB-1 of the State Committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR on defense technology (Chief Designer S.P.Korolev , Deputy Chief Designer t. Sadovsky ) - on the product and the complex as a whole;

- KB-11 of the Ministry of Medium Engineering (chief designers Negin , Kocharyants ) - in a special charge with automation, an initiation system, power supply, contact and non-contact sensors, test equipment and technological equipment for assembling and checking a special charge on the technical and home positions;

- NII-125 of the State Committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR on defense technology - on the creation of the product "Nylon-B", the industrial technology of its production, charges and engines (Chief Designer Zhukov , Deputy Chief Designer Comrades Smirnov and Pobedonostsev ). The development and testing of engines are carried out jointly with OKB-1 of the State Committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR on Defense Technology;"

The development and testing of engines were to be carried out jointly with OKB-1; NII-885 GKRE (chief designers - Ryazan, Pilyugin) - on the management system as a whole; NII-944 GK for shipbuilding (chief designer - Kuznetsov) - on gyroscopic instruments; NII-627 and VNIIT GK on automation and mechanical engineering (chief designers - Iosifyan and Lidorenko) - on-board electrical equipment and current sources; GSKB Spetsmash GKOT (Chief Designer - Barmin) - for a set of ground launch, docking, lifting-transport, compressor, auxiliary equipment and the development of combat launch stations; OKB-686 Moscow Economic Council (Chief Designer - Holtzman) - for a complex of ground electrical power equipment.

In May 1960, the developers had to submit a preliminary design of the RT-1 rocket and variants of combat launch stations (ground equipment complex). The development of engines was led by NII-125 with the participation of a team of OKB-1 designers. The outline design of the product 8K95 was released in August 1960.

Chertok noted that for the first time, chemists, powder specialists, and specialists in the textile manufacturing process of the fiberglass housings—and not heavy equipment manufacturers—determined the missile’s manufactur-ing process. NII-885 manufactured all instrumentation for the guidance and control system while OKB MEI provided the Tral telemetry system. Chertok's departments designed the con-trol surface actuators and the automatic missile destruction (APR) system.

The year 1961 was taken up with production and experimental development on test rigs. In the spring of 1962, Korolev appointed Yevgeniy Shabarov to be the head of flight-testing of our first solid-propellant missile at the State Central Firing Range (GTsP) in Kapustin Yar. Permanent GTsP Chief General Vasiliy Voznyuk agreed to be chairman of the State Commission. This was the first time that three-stage solid-propellant missiles had been sent to Kapustin Yar for flight development tests (LKI).

With a launch mass of 35.5 metric tons, the missile was designed for a range of 2,500 kilometers. Each of the missile’s three stages consisted of four solid-propellant engines connected mechanically and operationally. The diameter of the powder charges of each first-stage engine was 800 millimeters, while for the second and third stages the diameter was 700 millimeters. The control devices of the first and third stages were swiveling engines, and for the second stage the control devices were aerodynamic control surfaces.

The testers of liquid-propellant missiles at firing ranges consider fueling to be the most hazardous and unpleasant process. “Fueling” the RT-1 delighted the testers. Pre-fabricated powder charges arrived from NII-125. According to the instructions, they needed to be thoroughly wiped off with medical-grade alcohol before loading them into the body of each missile block. Naturally, the aroma of alcohol put the testers in a better mood than the acrid vapors of nitric acid and the annoying smell of kerosene.

Actual official authorization for the program took place on November 20, 1959 with the first flight test taking place during the middle of the 7th five year plan. On 28 April 1962, the first launch of the RT-1—the first Soviet solid-propellant medium range missile—took place. The first and subsequent two launches ended in failure, with the command of the APR system that we had developed. It blew up the detonating fuses, which opened up the engines and “zeroed” the thrust. This revealed the need to modify the charges and control system. Flight development tests resumed in March 1963. In all, nine missiles were tested in flight. The last launch took place in June 1963. The warhead reached the target with a deviation to the right of 2.7 kilometers and with an overshot of 12.4 kilometers. In terms of accuracy, the results were disappointing.

A total of three missiles were successfully launched of nine missiles flight tested. Three additional flights took place in September and November 1965 with only one being successful with the revised design. However, the guidance accuracy problems continued to persist with this new clustered solid motor system.

The VPK and the RVSN command needed to decide whether to continue work to perfect the RT-1. There were already two medium-range missiles in service, Yangel’s R-12 and R-14. There were no zealous supporters of an initiative to put one more medium-range missile into service.

The solid propellant technology suffered many research and development failures and setbacks that were systematically overcome over time. The primary obstacles proved to be the transition from existing smaller steel cased solid motors to large diameter, solid propellant motors and the subsequent development of the filament wound solid motor technology. This technology laid the foundation for the development of both ICBM and later SLBM ballistic missile technology of the former Soviet Union and Russia today. These advances were the former USSR's response to the US deployment of one thousand solid propellant Minuteman ICBM's.

The technology development was led by the OKB-1 design bureau headed by the famed Designer General Academician S. P. Korolev but the actual work was directed by Academician Igor Sadovskiy from 1958 through 1965. The development of the solid propellant technology had evolved over two, five-year plans through 1965 before it was separated from the OKB-1 works.

The work on the development of the subsequent trouble plagued three stage RT-2, SS-13 and road mobile RT-2P SS-14, two upper stages of the SS-13 ICBM, is believed to have continued under academician Igor Sadovskiy at the newly formed Soyuz NPO design bureau. That work on the RT-2 had started during the 7th five-year plan on April 4, 1961 and became a spin-off from the OKB-1 design bureau in the new, 8th Five Year Plan on January 1, 1966-January 1, 1970. It was subsequently taken over by the Acad. A. D. Nadiradize OKB design bureau in 1973. The Nadiradize OKB went on to develop the three stage RT-21, SS-16, ICBM, the SS-20, an IRBM utilizing the first two stages of the SS-16, and the RT-2 PM/SS-25 and SS-29 Topol ICBM’s. Their latest development is believed to be the highly revised Topol-M, RS-24 MIRV carrying ICBM. This technology also led to the development of the Start and Start-1 solid propellant space boosters. 

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