Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles|
Appendix 1: Early Missiles and Drones
|Copyright © 2004 Andreas Parsch|
Immediately after World War 2, the U.S. Navy's Bureau if Aeronautics (BuAer) defined a series of tentative requirements for guided missiles, which might be needed by 1950. Sixteen short-duration study contracts were awarded to the industry, labeled P/A-I through P/A-XVI. "P/A" stood for "Pilotless Aircraft", the term which was used by BuAer for guided missiles at that time. Most of the P/A studies did not result in actual hardware, because the reduced budgets of the post-WW2 era meant that many missile programs were soon cancelled. However, some of he P/A studies paved the way for actual missile prototypes of the 1950s.
Note: Project numbers P/A-I, P/A-II, P/A-IX and P/A-X are missing from the list. I have no information whatsoever about these studies.
P/A-III was an anti-kamikaze surface-to-air missile studied by the NAMU (Naval Air Material Unit).
P/A-IV was an anti-snooper medium/long-range surface-to-air missile studied by the NAMU, Fairchild and Consolidated-Vultee. This program was eventually combined with PA-XII, and led to the SAM-N-2/4 Lark missile.
P/A-V was a long-range surface-to-surface missile studied by Douglas and Goodyear.
The P/A-VI (also written sometimes as P/A-6 or PA-6) study called for a short-range (45 km (25 nm)) surface-to-surface missile for landing support operations. The contract was awarded to Vought in June 1946, and the company designed a supersonic ramjet-powered vehicle. For initial tests of the design, air-dropped sub-scale testbeds were built. Because no suitable ramjet was available, the P/A-VI vehicles were only powered by an off-the-shelf rocket booster from Aerojet. The tubular missile had small horizontal foreplanes, two wings of very pronounced dihedral and a circular tail shroud. The vehicle was equipped with a telemetry system, but the only onboard instrumentation measured air-flow data in the duct to help the design of the forthcoming ramjet engine.
Drop tests from an F4U Corsair aircraft began in March 1947. The rocket booster could accelerate the P/A VI to about mach 1.25 within 2 seconds. However, after only two launches, the Vought P/A-VI program was terminated and the design transferred to Grumman's PA-VII program. After four additional drops, the P/A-VI flight test program was finally cancelled.
P/A-VII was a medium-range (550 km (300 nm)) surface-to-surface missile studied by Grumman. It eventually evolved into the SSM-N-6 Rigel program.
P/A-VIII was a short-range air-to-underwater missile (probably some sort of torpedo carrier) studied by Martin. It was apparently cancelled very early.
P/A-XI was a short-range air-to-air missile for use by patrol aircraft. It was studied by the NAMU and McDonnell. The "short-range" definition was apparently not firm, because in other contexts the Navy defined the P/A-XI as a missile with 65 km (35 nm) range.
P/A-XII was an anti-ferret short/medium-range surface-to-air missile studied by Fairchild and Consolidated-Vultee. This program was eventually combined with PA-IV, and led to the SAM-N-2/4 Lark missile.
P/A-XIII was a surface-to-surface missile of unknown specification. It was briefly studied by Martin.
P/A-XIV was a Vought study for a short-range air-to-ship missile, which was apparently cancelled very early.
P/A-XV was a McDonnell study for an air-to-air missile for use by carrier aircraft. It was sometimes defined as "short range" and in other contexts with a range of 31 km (17 nm).
An ongoing study by Douglas to fit a standard 12.7 cm (5-inch) rocket with a radar seeker to create a short-range air-to-air missile became the P/A-XVI program. It eventually evolved into the AAM-N-2 Sparrow missile.
 Norman Friedman: "US Naval Weapons", Conway Maritime Press, 1983
 Vought Heritage Website
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