Hermes (missile program)

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Hermes A-1, A-3B
Hermes A-1 Test Rockets - GPN-2000-000063.jpg
The first Hermes A-1 test rocket, fired at White Sands Proving Ground
Function A-1: Experimental
Manufacturer A-1 (1946): General Electric[1]
Country of origin United States
Size
Height A-1: 300 in; A-3B 396 in[1]
Diameter A-1: 34 5/8 in; A-3B 47 in[1]
Mass A-1: 3000 lb; A-3B 5139 lb[1]
Launch history
Status Retired
Launch sites White Sands Proving Ground
Total launches

58[2]
A-1: Five (May 1950-April 1951)[1]

A-3B: Six - 1 failed (1953-1954)
Boosters
Thrust A-3B: 22600 lb-force[1]

The Hermes project (November 15, 1944 - December 31, 1954), was started in response to Germany's rocket attacks in Europe.[3] Project Hermes was to determine the missile needs of army field forces. "Accordingly the Ordnance Department entered into a research and development contract with the General Electric Company on 20 November 1944.[4] "This contract authorized the General Electric Company to seek the development of long-range missiles that could be used against both ground targets and high-altitude aircraft. The contractor agreed to perform investigations, research, experiments, design, development, and engineering work in connection with the development of long-range missiles for use against ground targets and high-altitude aircraft."[5] General Electric was also to investigate ramjets, solid rocket motors, liquid propellant rocket engines, and hybrid propellents.[6] "The contract also required the General Electric Company to develop remote control equipment, ground equipment, fire control devices, and homing devices."[7]

Hermes was the Army's second missile program. In May 1944 the Army contracted with the California Institute of Technology's Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratories to start the ORDCIT Project to research, test and develop guided missiles.[8] The Hermes program originally was to have three phases; first would be a literature search, second a research group would be dispatched to Europe to investigate the German Missiles, third "it would design and develop its own experimental systems. Basically, this project covered every phase of missile technology with the exception of large-scale development and production of warheads and fuzes. However, . . . these many areas may be grouped within three general categories, namely, the A1 and A2 missiles, the A3 missiles, and all other Hermes missiles and supporting research."[9]

In December 1944, Project Hermes was tasked with studying the V-2. Subjects which were to be addressed were ". . .transporting, handling,unpacking, classifying (identifying) , reconditioning and testing components of German rockets as well as assembling and testing subassemblies ahd (sic) complete rockets, manufacturing new parts, modification of existing parts, conducting special tests, constructing temporary test equipment not available at the Proving Ground, procuring and handling of propellants and supervision of launching rockets."[10] Project Hermes's mandate created a need for an extensive area where missiles could be safely tested. The Army moved to create the White Sands Proving Grounds in south central New Mexico as a place to test the new missiles.[11]

When the U.S. Army captured the Peenemünde engineers, including Werner Von Braun, Dr. Richard W. Porter of Project Hermes was close behind.[12] Following the capture by American forces of the Mitteilelwerk V-2 factory, Special Mission V-2 swept in and scooped up enough components to assemble 100 V-2s. The components were quickly removed to New Mexico.[13] Three hundred rail cars of V-2 parts and documentation arrived at the White Sands Proving Grounds and General Electric personnel started the task of inventorying the components.[11] For the next five years overhauling and manufacture of parts, assembly, modification and launching V-2 rockets would be the major part of Project Hermes. Many of the V-2 components were in poor condition or unusable.[14]

After the German V-2 parts and technology were imported into the United States, 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.[3] General Electric employees, with the help of German specialists, assembled V-2s at White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico where the Army constructed a blockhouse and Launch Complex 33, now a National Historical Landmark.[15][16] The first V-2 launch there was on April 16, 1946 but reached only 3.4 miles altitude. The maximum altitude reached by a Project Hermes V-2 was 114 miles achieved by V-2 #17 on 17 December 1946.[17] There were 58 standard V-2s, 6 Bumper" V-2s with a WAC Corporal second stage, and 4 drastically modified V-2s launched as Hermes IIs (Hermes B) by Project Hermes. The last Hermes flight was by V-2 #60 on 29 October 1951, carrying a Signal Corps Electronic Laboratory payload.[18] Most photos of American V-2s show the common white and black markings. The first two flown were painted in yellow and black. Others had combinations of white, black, silver and red. The last two fired by Project Hermes were black, white, and red with a big "Buy Bonds" logo (V-2 #52) and white, black, and silver with a small "Buy Bonds" logo.[19]

The Project Hermes V-2 program had achieved its objectives. First, it had gained experience in handling and firing large missiles and trained Army personnel to launch them (The last 4 American V-2 flights were not part of Project Hermes, they were Army launched "Training Flights"). Second, Hermes had provided vehicles for experiments which aided the design of future missiles. Third, Hermes had tested components for future missiles. Fourth, Hermes had obtained ballistic data on high-altitude trajectories as well as developing various means of tracking such trajectories. Fifth, the V-2 program had provided vehicles for upper atmosphere and biological research.[20] Additionally many components had to be manufactured due to shortages and deteriorated condition. Most notable was the inertial guidance system and mix computer.[21]

Hermes II[edit]

The initial goals of Project Hermes included Hermes B, a ramjet powered cruise missile. Hermes B was soon split into a Hermes B-1 test vehicle and a Hermes B-2 operational missile. Hermes B-1 soon evolved into Hermes II.[22] In June 1946 General Electric's contract was amended to include a two-stage missile which used a V-2 as its first stage, with a ramjet powered supersonic cruise missile as the second stage.[17] The ramjet was assigned to the Von Braun team of which less than 40 were employed in the V-2 launching program.[15] Design on the ramjet began on 10 December 1945. The Von Braun team dubbed the ramjet the "Comet."[23] Though the Peenemunde engineers had no experience with ramjets, and some members were scattered across the country, work progressed. On 11 January 1946 Von Braun presented his cruise missile design to Major General Barnes and the program was underway.[24] Hermes II (aka RTV-G-3 & RV-A-3) was an attempt to produce a high velocity ram jet powered cruise missile. A V-2 would boost the cruise missile called the "Comet," or "Ram." to mach 3.3 at 66,000 feet where the ram jets would start.[25] The Hermes II was an unusual design. It had two rectangular "wings" which doubled as the ramjets. It was described as a "two-dimensional, split-wing ramjet.[25] The Hermes II, with its large rectangular wings, required enlarged tail fins. Still aerodynamic data was scant, and indicated that the Hermes II was unstable at most velocities which required more development of the guidance system.[26] Another concern was the fuel intended, carbon disulfide, which was easy to ignite, but had a low specific impulse.[25] At peak employment the Hermes II program employed 125 Germans, 30 Army officers, 400 enlisted personnel, 75-100 civil service personnel and 175 G.E. employees.[27]

A V-2 was modified to carry a test device called the "Organ," a series of test diffusers (ramjet air intakes) which was to make measurements of pressures. That first Hermes II test missile (missile 0) was launched on 29 may 1947 and landed in Mexico causing an international incident.[26] WSPG V-2 #44 carried a test ram-jet diffuser. The successful flight returned data from Mach 3.6 and made GE confident it could proceed with a two stage test.[28] Progress was slow which frustrated Von Braun.[29] The next Hermes II, (missile 1), the first to have the wings containing the ramjets, was launched by GE on 13 January 1949 and broke up shortly after liftoff due to unanticipated vibrations.[26] There were two further Hermes flights missile #2 on 6 October 1949, which suffered the fate of missile 1. Missile 2-A on 9 November 1950.[18] Missile 2-A did not break up, but the ram-jet never started.[30] When the Von Braun team transferred to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, their primary mission was still a Mach 3.3 ram-jet cruise missile.[31]In May 1950 Hermes II was reduced to research only status. At that time Ordnance transferred the Mach 4 Hermes B from GE to Huntsville.[25][30] September 1950 saw GE's Hermes C-1 study transferred to Huntsville where it evolved into the very successful Redstone.[31] The Hermes ram-jet cruise missile faded into obscure history as it was terminated in 1953.[32]

Hermes B[edit]

Hermes B was a Mach 4 ramjet powered cruise missile design study undertaken by General Electric.[33] It was later transferred to the Von Braun team at the Redstone Arsenal.[30] Hermes B was also designated SSM-G-9 and SSM-A-9.[22]

The Surface to Air and Surface to Surface Missiles[edit]

The development of the 25 ft tall Hermes A-1 (CTV-G-5/RV-A-5) rocket was begun by General Electric in 1946. Constructed mostly of steel, it was an American version of the German Wasserfall anti-aircraft missile; the Wasserfall was about 1/2 the size of the German A-4 (V-2).[34][35] Hermes A-1 had one major difference from the Wasserfall. The Peenemünde Nitric Acid/Visol fueled P IX engine was replaced by a General Electric pressure fed 13,500 lb. thrust Liquid Oxygen/Watered Alcohol fueled engine.[36][37] Beginning in 1947, the engine of the A-1 was tested at GE's Malta Test Station in New York.[38] The G.E. engine had a novel fuel injector which had great influence on future engine development in the USA. Combustion instability problems delayed engine development.[39]

Hermes A-1 components such as guidance and telemetry were tested on several V-2 flights at White Sands Proving Grounds in 1947 and 1948.[40] Plans to turen Hermes A-1 as a operational surface to air missile were dropped in favor of the more suitable Nike.[41]On 18 May 1950 the Army switched emphasis for Project Hermes to the surface to surface mission. The next day the Hermes A-1 first flew. The launch failed when thrust was lost shortly after lift-off.[40] The second flight failed after 41 seconds when the hydraulic servo covers were burned through by engine exhaust. None of the three subsequent Hermes A-1 flights were totally successful, though "they demonstrated the functional capability of the missile system."[40] Those last three launches achieved apogees of 14 miles.[42]

The demise of the Hermes A-1 did not end two other design studies. Work on the Hermes A-1E-1 and Hermes A-1F-2 continued. They were tactical missile designs 25 feet and 29 feet long respectively. Both were to have 1,450 lb. warheads. The competing Corporal (XSSM--G-7/XSSN-A-7) showed better development and Hermes A-1E-2 was cancelled in April 1952 and was followed by the A-1E-1 in October of that year.[40]

The original Hermes A-2 was projected to be a wingless A-1, but that missile was abandoned to be followed by another rocket called A-2 (RV-A-10). The RV-A10 was a short range solid fuel test vehicle, with plans to develop a tactical missile (SSM-A-13,) which were soon abandoned.[43]

The slightly larger Hermes A-3A (SSM-G-8, RV-A-8) followed.[43] Progress on the Hermes A-3 until it was divided into an A-3A (RV-A-8) test vehicle and the A-3B (SSM-A-16) which was intended to be an operational missile with a W-5 nuclear warhead.[44] A total of seven RV-A-8 were launches and five of them were either partial or total failures.[43]

The A-3B (SS-A-16) was slightly larger than the RV-A-8 and the last produced and tested vehicle of the Hermes missile program.[43][43][45] 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.[43]

There were Hemes missile which never flew. Work on a ram jet cruise missile continued after the end of the RTV-3 program ended. It was an ambitious program intended to produce a cruise missile, the Hermes II the RV-A-6 (Hermes B-1?), cable of flying 2,500 mi per hr (2,40 km per hr) at Mach 4.5 at 80,000 ft (24,000 m).[43] There was a SS-G-9, Hermes B-2 which was never built.[43]

The Hermes C program was composed of a series of studies, one of which was the Hermes C-1, which led directly to the SM-A-14 (GM-11) Redstone.[46]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

This article includes text from the United States Government.

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Hermes A-3B". Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. 
  2. ^ "Bumper 8 - 50th Anniversary of the First Launch on Cape Canaveral - Group Oral History" (PDF). NASA. Archived from the original (pdf) on October 30, 2004. 
  3. ^ a b Neufeld, Michael J. (2007). Von Braun, Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War. New Your: Vintage Books. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-307-38937-4. 
  4. ^ Kennedy, Gregory P. (2009). The Rockets and Missiles of White Sands Proving Ground. Atglen, PA.: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-7643-3251-7. 
  5. ^ Bullard, John W. (15 October 1965). "History of the Redstone Missile System". Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama: Army Missile Command: 7–8. Retrieved 2016-03-01. 
  6. ^ Sutton, George P. (2006). History of Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines. Reston, Virginia: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. p. 327. ISBN 1-56347-649-5. 
  7. ^ Bullard, John W. (15 October 1965). "History of the Redstone Missile System". Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama: Army Missile Command: 8. Retrieved 2016-03-01. 
  8. ^ Bragg, James W. (April 1961). "Development of the Corporal: The Embryo of the Army Missile Program Volume I". Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama: Army Ballistic Missile Agency: xii. Retrieved 2016-03-03. 
  9. ^ Bullard, John W. (15 October 1965). "History of the Redstone Missile System". Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama: Army Missile Command: 8–9. Retrieved 2016-03-01. 
  10. ^ White, L. D. Final Report,Project Hermes V-2 Missile Program. Schnectady, New York: Guided Missile Department, Aeronautic and Ordnance Systems Division, Defense Products Group, General Electric. p. 3. 
  11. ^ a b Kennedy, Gregory P. (2009). The Rockets and Missiles of White Sands Proving Ground. Atglen, PA.: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7643-3251-7. 
  12. ^ Ordway III, Frederick; Sharp, Mitchell (1979). The Rocket Team. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. p. 308. 
  13. ^ Ordway III, Frederick; Sharp, Mitchell (1979). The Rocket Team. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. pp. 316–322. 
  14. ^ White, L. D. (September 1952). Final Report,Project Hermes V-2 Missile Program. Schnectady, New York: Guided Missile Department, Aeronautic and Ordnance Systems Division, Defense Products Group, General Electric. pp. 13–17. 
  15. ^ a b White, L. D. (September 1952). Final Report,Project Hermes V-2 Missile Program. Schnectady, New York: Guided Missile Department, Aeronautic and Ordnance Systems Division, Defense Products Group, General Electric. p. 44. 
  16. ^ http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/e-resources/ebooks/records/7186.html
  17. ^ a b Kennedy, Gregory P. (2009). The Rockets and Missiles of White Sands Proving Ground. Atglen, PA.: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-7643-3251-7. 
  18. ^ a b Kennedy, Gregory P. (2009). The Rockets and Missiles of White Sands Proving Ground. Atglen, PA.: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-7643-3251-7. 
  19. ^ Beggs, William Jr. "V-2 Paint Schemes". Beggs Aerospace. Retrieved 2016-03-01. 
  20. ^ White, L. D. (September 1952). Final Report,Project Hermes V-2 Missile Program. Schnectady, New York: Guided Missile Department, Aeronautic and Ordnance Systems Division, Defense Products Group, General Electric. p. Objectives. 
  21. ^ White, L. D. (September 1952). Final Report,Project Hermes V-2 Missile Program. Schnectady, New York: Guided Missile Department, Aeronautic and Ordnance Systems Division, Defense Products Group, General Electric. p. 121–135. 
  22. ^ a b Parsch, Andreas. "SSM-A-16". pp. Appendix 1. Retrieved 2016-03-03. 
  23. ^ Neufeld, Michael J. (2007). Von Braun, Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War. New York: Vintage Books. p. 216. ISBN 978-0-307-38937-4. 
  24. ^ Ordway III, Frederick; Sharp, Mitchell (1979). The Rocket Team. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. p. 395. 
  25. ^ a b c d Zucro, M. J. (17 March 1950). Report on Survey of the National Ramjet Program. Panel on Propulsion and Fuels Committee on Guided Missile Research and Development Board. p. 5. 
  26. ^ a b c Neufeld, Michael J. (2007). Von Braun, Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War. New York: Vintage Books. p. 239. ISBN 978-0-307-38937-4. 
  27. ^ Zucro, M. J. (17 March 1950). Report on Survey of the National Ramjet Program. Panel on Propulsion and Fuels Committee on Guided Missile Research and Development Board. p. 4. 
  28. ^ Kennedy, Gregory P. (2009). The Rockets and Missiles of White Sands Proving Ground. Atglen, PA.: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-7643-3251-7. 
  29. ^ Neufeld, Michael J. (2007). Von Braun, Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War. New Your: Vintage Books. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-307-38937-4. 
  30. ^ a b c Neufeld, Michael J. (2007). Von Braun, Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War. New York: Vintage Books. p. 249. ISBN 978-0-307-38937-4. 
  31. ^ a b Neufeld, Michael J. (2007). Von Braun, Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War. New York: Vintage Books. p. 248. ISBN 978-0-307-38937-4. 
  32. ^ Ordway III, Frederick; Sharp, Mitchell (1979). The Rocket Team. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. p. 423. 
  33. ^ Zucro, M. J. (17 March 1950). Report on Survey of the National Ramjet Program. Panel on Propulsion and Fuels Committee on Guided Missile Research and Development Board. p. 5-6. 
  34. ^ Parsch, Andreas. "SSM-A-16". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles. pp. Appendix 1. Retrieved 2016-03-03. 
  35. ^ The aerodynamic shape of the Wassefall was also adopted for the North American NATIV
  36. ^ Pocock, Rowland F.. (1967). German Guided Missiles. New York: Arco Publishing Company. p. 57. ISBN 1-56347-649-5. 
  37. ^ Sutton, George P. (2006). History of Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines. Reston, Virginia: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. p. 328. ISBN 1-56347-649-5. 
  38. ^ "A Cold War reminder in Malta". Albany Times Union. Retrieved 2016-03-01. 
  39. ^ Sutton, George P. (2006). History of Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines. Reston, Virginia: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. p. 330–331. ISBN 1-56347-649-5. 
  40. ^ a b c d Kennedy, Gregory P. (2009). The Rockets and Missiles of White Sands Proving Ground. Atglen, PA.: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-7643-3251-7. 
  41. ^ Sutton, George P. (2006). History of Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines. Reston, Virginia: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. p. 330. ISBN 1-56347-649-5. 
  42. ^ Wade, Mark. "Hermes A-1". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2016-03-03. 
  43. ^ a b c d e f g h SSM-A-16. Directory of U.S. Rockets and Missiles. 
  44. ^ Hansen, Chuck (1995). The Swords of Armageddon. Sunnyvale, California: Chucklea Publications. p. Volume VII Pg 230. 
  45. ^ "Inventory number: A19910076000, Missile, Surface-to-Surface, Hermes A-3B". Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum. 
  46. ^ Joiner, Helen Brents (1965). History of the Redstone Missile System. Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama: Army Missile Command. p. 42.