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

North American RTV-A-3 NATIV

To support its missile development program, North American designed and built the NATIV (North American Test Instrument Vehicle) research missile around 1947. The RTV-A-3 NATIV was used to evaluate several aspects of guided missile technology, mainly aerodynamics, propulsion, and general missile handling issues. The first RTV-A-3 launch occurred in May 1948.

The RTV-A-3 was powered a liquid-fueled rocket engine and used a launch tower for take-off. The airframe design was heavily based on the German Wasserfall surface-to-air missile (prototypes of which were tested near the end of World War II), and as such used four large stabilizing fins with movable flying surfaces for stability and control. The payload of the rocket consisted of a telemetry package to transmit flight performance data to the ground.

Photo: USAF

Readily available information about the NATIV program is very limited, and the data are often conflicting. E.g., maximum speeds are quoted as between Mach 1.2 and Mach 3.6. The number of flights and their measure of success are also unclear, but one source claims 6 successes out of a total of 20 flights. In any case, the RTV-A-3 flight test program had been terminated by the end of 1949.


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

Data for RTV-A-3:

Length4.06 m (13 ft 4 in)
Finspan1.31 m (4 ft 3.5 in)
Diameter46 cm (18 in)
Weight540 kg (1200 lb)
SpeedMach 3.2
Ceiling19 km (12 miles)
Range65 km (40 miles)
PropulsionLiquid-fueled rocket; 11.6 kN (2600 lb)

Main Sources

[1] Frederick I. Ordway III, Ronald C. Wakeford: "International Missile and Spacecraft Guide", McGraw-Hill, 1960
[2] Andrew McMillen: Project NATIV (unsorted collection of NATIV information from various sources)

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

Last Updated: 4 January 2003