Hermes (missile program)
The first Hermes A-1 test rocket, fired at White Sands Proving Ground
|Manufacturer||A-1 (1946): General Electric|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Height||A-1: 300 in; A-3B 396 in|
|Diameter||A-1: 34 5/8 in; A-3B 47 in|
|Mass||A-1: 3000 lb; A-3B 5139 lb|
|Launch sites||White Sands Proving Ground|
A-1: Five (May 1950-April 1951)
After German V-2 parts and technology were imported into the United States after the war, the U. S. Army formed the Upper Atmosphere Research Panel in early 1946 to oversee experiments both about their technology and their use for upper atmosphere research. One-third of the panel members were General Electric scientists. The Hermes project was expanded to include testing of the V-2 sounding rockets. General Electric employees reassembled them at White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico where the Army constructed a blockhouse and Launch Complex 33, now a National Historical Landmark. The first V-2 launch there was on April 16, 1946 but reached only 3.4 miles altitude instead of the 35 miles achieved for later experiments.
The development of the 25 ft tall Hermes A-1 rocket was begun by General Electric in 1946. Constructed mostly of steel, it was an American version of the similarly-sized German Wasserfall anti-aircraft missile; the Wasserfall was about 1/4 the size of the German A-4 (V-2).
Beginning in 1947, components of the A-1 were successfully tested at GE's Malta Test Station in New York and at White Sands. Five A-1 rockets were successfully launched at White Sands between May 1950 and April 1951. The Hermes A-1 had a maximum range of 38 miles and altitude of 15 miles.
The slightly larger Hermes A-3B was the last produced and tested vehicle of the Hermes missile program. It was designed as a tactical surface-to-surface missile carrying a 1,000 lb warhead with a 150 mile range but never achieved that range in practice. It had a thrust of 22,600 lb-force. By 1953-1954 six A-3B's were test launched at White Sands, five successfully. None of the Hermes missiles became operational, but did provide experience in the design, construction, and handling of large-scale missiles and rocket engines. The Hermes program was canceled in 1954.
This article includes text from the United States Government.
- "Hermes A-3B". Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
- "Bumper 8 - 50th Anniversary of the First Launch on Cape Canaveral - Group Oral History" (pdf). NASA.
- "Inventory number: A19800214000, Missile, Surface-to-Surface, Hermes A-1, Experimental". Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum.
- A few Hermes launches are included in the List of V-2 test launches.
- "Inventory number: A19910076000, Missile, Surface-to-Surface, Hermes A-3B". Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum.