RIM-8 Talos

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RIM-8 Talos
US Rim-8g missile.jpg
RIM-8G Talos missile.
TypeSurface-to-air missile
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1958-1979
Used byUnited States Navy
Production history
Mass7,800 lb (3,500 kg) (missile: 3,400 lb (1,500 kg), booster: 4,400 lb (2,000 kg)
Length32 ft (9.8 m)
Diameter28 in (71 cm)
Warhead211 kg (465 lb) continuous-rod HE warhead or W30 nuclear warhead (2–5 kt)

EngineBendix ramjet sustainer,
Stage1: Hercules MK 11 solid-fueled rocket booster,
Stage2: Bendix ramjet sustainer
20,053lbf, 89.20kN
Wingspan280 cm (110 in)
RIM-8J 241 km (130 nm); RIM-8A: 92 km (50 nm)
Flight ceiling24,400 m (80,100 ft)
Maximum speed Mach 2.5
Radar beam riding and (non-nuclear variants) semi-active radar homing
Surface ship

The Bendix RIM-8 Talos was a long-range naval surface-to-air missile, and was among the earliest surface-to-air missiles to equip United States Navy ships. The Talos used radar beam riding for guidance to the vicinity of its target, and semiactive radar homing (SARH) for terminal guidance. The array of four antenna which surround the nose are SARH receivers which functioned as a continuous wave interferometer. Initial thrust was provided by a solid rocket booster for launch and a Bendix ramjet for flight to the target with the warhead serving as the ramjet's compressor.

Last Talos missile launched by USS Oklahoma City in 1979


Talos was the end product of Operation Bumblebee, the Navy's 16-year surface-to-air missile development program for protection against guided anti-ship missiles like Henschel Hs 293 glide bombs, Fritz X, and kamikaze aircraft.[1] The Talos was the primary effort behind the Bumblebee project, but was not the first missile the program developed; the RIM-2 Terrier was the first to enter service. The Talos was originally designated SAM-N-6, and was redesignated RIM-8 in 1963. The airframe structure was manufactured by McDonnell Aircraft in St. Louis; final assembly was by Bendix Missile Systems in Mishawaka, Indiana. The first production versions of the missile cost about $155,000 in 1955 ($1,443,674.16 in 2020 dollars), however the price would drop as Bendix increased production.[2]

The Talos saw relatively limited use due to its large size and dual radar antenna system; there were few ships that could accommodate the large missiles with the AN/SPW-2 missile guidance radar and the AN/SPG-49 target illumination and tracking radar.[3] The 9.9-meter-long, 3½-tonne missile was comparable in size to a small fighter aircraft.[4] The Talos Mark 7 Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) was installed in three Galveston-class cruisers (converted Cleveland-class light cruisers) with 16 missiles in a ready-service magazine and up to 30 missiles and boosters in a storage area above the main deck. Nuclear-powered USS Long Beach and three Albany-class cruisers (converted Baltimore-class heavy cruisers) carried Mark 12 Guided Missile Launching Systems fed from a 52-round magazine below the main deck.[5]

The initial SAM-N-6b/RIM-8A had an effective range of about 50 nm, and a conventional warhead. The SAM-N-6bW/RIM-8B was a RIM-8A with a nuclear warhead; terminal guidance was judged unnecessary for a nuclear warhead, so the SARH antenna was omitted. The SAM-N-6b1/RIM-8C was introduced in 1960 and had double the range, and a more effective conventional continuous-rod warhead. The RIM-8D was the nuclear-warhead version of the -8C. The SAM-N-6c/RIM-8E "Unified Talos" had a warhead that could be swapped while embarked, eliminating the need to waste magazine capacity carrying dedicated nuclear-tipped variants. The RIM-8E also carried an improved continuous-wave terminal homing seeker, and had a higher ceiling reach-out. Some RIM-8Cs were retrofitted with the new seeker, and designated RIM-8F. The RIM-8G and RIM-8J had further radar homing improvements and a new fuel that extended the range to 130 nm.[6]

The surface-to-air versions also saw action in Vietnam, a total of four MiGs being shot down by Chicago and Long Beach. On May 23, 1968, a Talos fired from USS Long Beach shot down a Vietnamese MiG at a range of about 65 miles. This was the first downing of a hostile aircraft by a missile fired from a ship. The hit also destroyed a second MiG which flew through the debris. In September 1968 Long Beach scored another MiG destroyed at a range of 61 miles. On May 9, 1972 Chicago's forward Talos battery scored a long-range kill on a MiG.[7] The Talos missile also had surface-to-surface capabilities.[8]

The RIM-8H Talos-ARM was a dedicated anti-radar homing missile for use against shore-based radar stations. Initial testing of the RIM-8H was performed in 1965, and soon after it was deployed in Vietnam on Chicago, Oklahoma City, and Long Beach, attacking North Vietnamese SAM radars. Oklahoma City fired the first successful RIM-8H combat shot in US Navy history in early 1972. It was also the first combat surface-to-surface missile shot in US Navy history.[9]


Development and prototype missiles; pre-1962 US Navy designation of the Talos missile.
Development and prototype missiles; pre-1962 US Navy designation of the Talos missile.
Production missiles deployed with conventional explosive warheads; re-designated RIM-8A.
The -6b missile with nuclear warhead, omitting terminal guidance and SARH antennae; re-designated RIM-8B.
An improved -6b with much greater range and continuous rod conventional warhead; re-designated RIM-8C.
"Unified Talos" with interchangeable nuclear / conventional warheads eliminating the need for storage of both missile types, also fitted with improved terminal homing and higher operating ceiling; re-designated RIM-8E.
RIM-8F Talos
Some RIM-8C missiles retro-fitted with the new seeker from the RIM-8E (post 1962 only).
RIM-8G Talos
Variant with further homing improvements.
RIM-8H Talos-ARM
A dedicated surface-to-surface anti-radar homing version for deployment on ships already fitted out for the Talos SAM.
RIM-8J Talos
Variant with further homing improvements.
MQM-8G Vandal
Talos missiles remaining after removal from active service were converted to super-sonic drone targets, with the inventory being exhausted circa 2008.


Date Fleet inventory Ship Event
28 May 1958 1×Mk 7 GMLS with 2×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Galveston commissioned as CLG-3
3 June 1960 2×Mk 7 GMLS with 4×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Little Rock commissioned as CLG-4
7 September 1960 3×Mk 7 GMLS with 6×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Oklahoma City commissioned as CLG-5
9 September 1961 3×Mk 7 & 1×Mk 12 GMLS with 8×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Long Beach commissioned as CGN-9
3 November 1962 3×Mk 7 & 3×Mk 12 GMLS with 12×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Albany commissioned as CG-10
1 December 1962[10] 3×Mk 7 & 5×Mk 12 GMLS with 16×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Columbus commissioned as CG-12
2 May 1964 3×Mk 7 & 7×Mk 12 GMLS with 20×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Chicago commissioned as CG-11
25 May 1970[11] 2×Mk 7 & 7×Mk 12 GMLS with 18×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Galveston decommissioned
31 January 1975[10] 2×Mk 7 & 5×Mk 12 GMLS with 14×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Columbus decommissioned
22 November 1976[12] 1×Mk 7 & 5×Mk 12 GMLS with 12×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Little Rock decommissioned
1978 1×Mk 7 & 4×Mk 12 GMLS with 10×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Long Beach Talos system removed
1 November 1979 4×Mk 12 GMLS with 8×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Oklahoma City Last Talos fired
15 December 1979 4×Mk 12 GMLS with 8×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Oklahoma City decommissioned
1 March 1980 2×Mk 12 GMLS with 4×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Chicago decommissioned
29 August 1980 Albany decommissioned


Long Beach had her Talos launcher removed in 1978. Talos was phased out of fleet service with the decommissioning of USS Oklahoma City in 1979, though the Albany-class ships carrying the system soldiered on a few more years with the launchers left in place until they were retired in 1980. After 21 years of fleet service, the missile was replaced by the RIM-67 Standard missile, which was fired from the smaller Mk10 launcher.

Two Talos missiles are on display at the Military Honor Park located near the entrance of the South Bend International Airport in South Bend, Indiana.

A Talos missile is displayed in the atrium of the South Bend Regional Airport (historically known as Bendix Field).

Another example can be seen at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, located at Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

A Talos Missile can also be seen on display at the Muskogee War Memorial Park located in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

A Talos missile is on display at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown in Yorktown, Virginia.

A Talos missile is on display at The US Navy's Guided Missile School at Dam Neck, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, just outside of the main building of the NAVGMSCOL.

Two Talos missiles are on display, in launch position, on the stern of USS Little Rock at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park located in Buffalo, New York.

A Talos missile and booster were on display at Rita Blanca Park (home of the XIT Rodeo & Reunion) in Dalhart Texas, at least from 1981 or earlier, but as of 2017 had been removed.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A Brief History of White Sands Proving Ground 1941-1965" (PDF). New Mexico State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-10-28. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  2. ^ "RIM-8 Talos". Global Security. Global Security. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  3. ^ Polmar, Norman (December 1978). "The U.S.Navy: Shipboard Radars". United States Naval Institute Proceedings. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ The contemporary Soviet MiG-15 jet fighter was 10.1 meters long and weighted 5 tonnes.
  5. ^ Naval Training Command (1972). Gunners Mate M 1&C (NAVTRA 10200-B ed.). US Government Printing Office.
  6. ^ Garten Jr., William; Dean, Frank A. (April–June 1982). "Evolution of the Talos Missile". Johns Hopkins APL Technical Digest. 3 (2): 117–122. ISSN 0270-5214.
  8. ^ "USS Oklahoma City - Talos Missile Firing Operations". Retrieved 2014-05-23.
  9. ^ Hays, Phillip R. "Details of the First Talos RGM-8H Anti Radiation Missile Combat Firing". USS Oklahoma City CL91 / CLG5 / CG5. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Welcome Aboard". USS Columbus Veterans Association. Archived from the original on 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  11. ^ "Chronology - U.S.S. Galveston CL-93 / CLG-3". USS Galveston Shipmates Association. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  12. ^ "A Brief History of the USS Little Rock". USS Little Rock Association. Archived from the original on 2010-12-23. Retrieved 2010-08-27.


  • Friedman, Norman (1982). "The "3 T" Programme". Warship. London: Conway Maritime Press. VI (22–3): 158–166, 181–185. ISBN 0-87021-981-2.
  • Goss, Wilbur H.; et al. (April–June 1982). "Talos in Retrospect". Johns Hopkins APL Technical Journal. 3 (2): 116–179. ISSN 0270-5214.

External links[edit]