Wagtail (missile)

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Wagtail
Type Air-to-surface missile
Place of origin United States
Service history
Used by United States Air Force
Production history
Designed 1956-1961
Manufacturer Minneapolis-Honeywell
Specifications
Length 5.6 feet (1.7 m)
Diameter 12 inches (300 mm)

Engine Dual-thrust rocket
Boost phase: 9,900 lbf (44 kN)
Terminal phase: 2,500 lbf (11 kN)
Propellant Solid fuel
Launch
platform
B-58 Hustler

The Wagtail missile, also known as "Wag Tail", was a short-range nuclear missile developed in the late 1950s by Minneapolis-Honeywell under a contract awarded by the United States Air Force. Intended for use as an auxiliary weapon by bomber aircraft, the missile was successfully test fired in 1958, but the program was cancelled in the early 1960s.

Design and development[edit]

The Wagtail project was initiated in 1956, with Minneapolis-Honeywell being contracted to develop a short-range, solid-rocket-powered missile.[1] The missile would be armed with a low-yield nuclear warhead, and was intended for use as a tactical support missile by supersonic aircraft engaged in low-level attacks.[2][3]

The Wagtail missile was intended to be fitted with a guidance system that utilised an inertial navigation system and a terrain-following radar, which allowed the missile to be fired from and navigate at extremely low altitudes.[2] The missile was equipped with small retrorockets that retarded the missile following release, allowing the launching aircraft the opportunity to escape the blast wave from the missile's warhead.[2]

Operational history[edit]

By 1958, the Wagtail project had progressed to the point of live-fire flight testing; the missile was planned to be fitted to the B-58 Hustler bomber in operational service, while an alternative configuration was proposed as a bomber defense missile, which would be fired rearwards from the carrier aircraft.[2] However, in the early 1960s (prior to fiscal year 1962), despite the missiles' flight testing having proved successful,[4] the Wagtail project was canceled.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ American Aviation Publications, 1958. Missiles and Rockets, Volume 5. p. 26.
  2. ^ a b c d e Parsch 2003
  3. ^ Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1960, p.463.
  4. ^ Huisken 1981, p.61.
Bibliography
  • Huisken, Ronald (1981). The Origin of the Strategic Cruise Missile. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 978-0-03-059378-9. 
  • Parsch, Andreas (2003). "Minneapolis-Honeywell Wagtail". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles. designation-systems.net. Retrieved 2010-12-30.