Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles|
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
|Copyright © 2003 Andreas Parsch|
In September 1956, Minneapolis-Honeywell received a development contract for the Wagtail air-to-ground missile. Wagtail was a solid-fuel rocket-powered short-range missile, to be used for nuclear attacks by low-flying supersonic aircraft. It was equipped with retro-rockets which fired before main motor ignition to decelerate it rapidly after drop. This gave the delivery aircraft enough time to escape the thermonuclear explosion. The missile had flip-out tail fins, and used an inertial navigation system together with a terrain-following radar. The latter features gave it some stand-off range and the capability to clear obstacles when launched at low altitude.
|Drawing: David McKinney|
Wagtail was flight tested in 1958, but was not put into production. The program was cancelled before 1962, most likely around 1960/61. One of the aircraft, which would have used Wagtail, was the B-58 Hustler. Wagtail was also adapted for use as a rearward-firing air-to-air missile (presumably for bomber defense), but I have no information whether this configuration was actually flight tested.
Note: Both the drawing and the dimension figures in the table are from source . However, it is immediately evident that the figures are incompatible with the drawing. The figures give a length/diameter (L/D) ratio of 5.6, while the sketch shows an L/D of 12.5. Furthermore, there is a (very small) drawing in source  of a proposed B-58 configuration with Wagtail missiles, and the Wagtails are cylindrical missiles with tiny fins and an L/D of about 7.5. To sum it up, I couldn't find reliable and accurate data about Wagtail's general layout and overall dimensions.
Data for Wagtail:
|Length||1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)*|
|Diameter||30.5 cm (12 in)*|
|Propulsion||Dual-thrust solid-fueled rocket;|
boost phase: 44 kN (10000 lb) for 7.4 s
terminal phase: 11 kN (2500 lb) for 2.5 s
 Bill Gunston: "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rockets and Missiles", Salamander Books Ltd, 1979
 John W. R. Taylor (ed.): "Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1960-61", Jane's, 1961
 Norman J. Bowman: "The Handbook of Rockets and Guided Missiles", Perastadion Press, 1963
 Frederick I. Ordway III, Ronald C. Wakeford: "International Missile and Spacecraft Guide", McGraw-Hill, 1960
 Jay Miller: "Convair B-58 Hustler", Aerofax
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