Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 1: Early Missiles and Drones
Copyright © 2003-2007 Andreas Parsch

Temco ASM-N-8 Corvus

In 1955, the U.S. Navy had a requirement for a long-range nuclear-armed heavy standoff air-to-surface missile to be employed by the latest carrier-based attack bombers like the A3J Vigilante and A4D Skyhawk. In April 1955, the ASM-N-8 Raven project was initiated to develop such a missile. In the same year, a parallel project for the Corvus anti-radar missile was redefined to cover the Raven requirements, and therefore Raven was terminated and the ASM-N-8 designation transferred to Corvus. A development contract for the ASM-N-8 Corvus was eventually awarded to Temco in January 1957, and the first flight test of an XASM-N-8 prototype occurred in July 1959.

Image: Vought

The XASM-N-8 was powered by a prepackaged liquid-propellant rocket engine, and used delta wings and cruciform tailfins for flight stability and control. The Corvus was primarily designed as an anti-radar missile (ARM), and as such had a passive radar seeker in the nose to home on the emission of shore- and ship-based enemy radars. However, the Corvus seeker could also home on non-radiating targets when they were illuminated by a compatible radar in the launching aircraft. In the latter operating mode there was also a data-link between the missile and the launching aircraft, which could thereby provide mid-course command guidance until the missile's seeker could detect the radar reflections from the target. The missile could be launched from high or low level, and design ranges for high-altitude launches were 315 km (170 nm) in ARM mode and 185 km (100 nm) in semi-active homing mode. Corvus was to be armed with a light-weight W-40 nuclear warhead (10 kT yield).

By March 1960, the XASM-N-8 test program had progressed to fully guided flights, but in July that year the Corvus program was terminated. The reason was that overall responsibility for long-range nuclear air-to-surface missiles had been transferred to the U.S. Air Force, which regarded the Corvus as unneccessary.


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for XASM-N-8:

Length4.88 m (16 ft)
Wingspan1.52 m (5 ft)
Diameter48 cm (19 in)
Weight790 kg (1750 lb)
SpeedMach 3.75
Ceiling15200 m (50000 ft)
Range315 km (170 nm)
PropulsionThiokol liquid-fueled rocket; 4.4 kN (1000 lb)
WarheadW-40 nuclear fission (10 kT)

Main Sources

[1] Norman Friedman: "US Naval Weapons", Conway Maritime Press, 1983
[2] Bill Gunston: "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rockets and Missiles", Salamander Books Ltd, 1979

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 1

Last Updated: 1 July 2007