Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 1: Early Missiles and Drones
Copyright © 2002-2007 Andreas Parsch

Fairchild SM-73 Bull Goose

In the early 1950s, Fairchild studied the concept of a ground-launched long-range decoy missile to simulate B-36, B-47, B-52 and B-58 strategic bombers on radar. The U.S. Air Force awarded study contracts under project MX-2223 in July 1954 to Fairchild and Convair (see SM-74). Convair's design was not further developed, but in December 1955, the USAF awarded Fairchild a follow-on contract to develop the SM-73 Bull Goose decoy missile as part of Weapons System 123A (the MX-2223 project designator seems to have been retained for some time, too). The WS-123A requirement called for a missile with a range of at least 7400 km (4000 nm) at Mach 0.85. Because of the subsonic performance, simulation of the B-58 was not required. The first flight of an XSM-73 prototype occurred in June 1957.

Photo: USAF

The XSM-73 was a delta-wing design of primarily non-metallic construction, using e.g. a fiberglass-resin bonded wing. It was powered by a Fairchild J83 turbojet, and used a solid-propellant rocket booster for take-off. The Bull Goose had a range of 8850 km (5500 miles) at a speed of Mach 0.85. The missile had an autopilot with an integrating-rate gyro for directional control, and the required accuracy was +/- 185 km (115 miles) at a range of 7400 km (4600 miles). The SM-73 was to carry a payload of radar reflectors and active electronic simulation and ECM equipment.

Photo: USAF

The Bull Goose flight test program during 1957/58 was plagued by troubles, including problems with the booster, the turbojet and the composite-structure wing, funding difficulties, and the inability of the XSM-73 to realistically simulate the B-52 on radar. The USAF had at one time planned to procure more than 2300 SM-73 Goose (the "Bull" prefix was officially dropped in May 1958) missiles until 1963, but in December 1958, the whole program was cancelled.


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

Data for XSM-73:

Length10.21 m (33 ft 6 in)
Wingspan7.44 m (24 ft 5 in)
Height2.16 m (7 ft 1 in)
Weight (w/o booster)3490 kg (7700 lb)
SpeedMach 0.85
Ceiling15200 m (50000 ft)
Range8850 km (5500 miles)
PropulsionFairchild YJ83-R-3 turbojet; 10.9 kN (2450 lb)
Booster: Thiokol solid-propellant rocket; 222 kN (50000 lb) for 3 s

Main Sources

[1] Bill Gunston: "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rockets and Missiles", Salamander Books Ltd, 1979
[2] Kenneth P.Werrell: "The Evolution of the Cruise Missile", Air University Press, 1985
[3] Dennis R. Jenkins: "Magnesium Overcast: The Story of the Convair B-36", Specialty Press, 2001

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

Last Updated: 3 July 2007