Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Copyright © 2001-2006 Andreas Parsch

Martin SSM-A-1/B-61/TM-61/MGM-1 Matador

The Matador was the first operational surface-to-surface cruise missile of the U.S. armed forces. Its origins lay in the immediate post-war period, when the Martin Co. was assigned a contract to develop a short-range, subsonic, surface-to-surface missile under USAAF project MX-771. The missile designator SSM-A-1 was assigned to the project.

After the first dummy missiles, made of wood, had been flown to test the zero-length launching system, the first flight of a real missile (designated XSSM-A-1) occured at White Sands Missile Range on 20 January 1949. The YSSM-A-1 were the first missiles to test the guidance system. While the Matador program was almost cancelled in 1949, the start of the Korean caused the USAF to assign it top priority.

In 1951, the USAF assigned aircraft type designations to its guided missiles, to emphasize its view that missiles were nothing else than pilotless aircraft. The Matador was classified as a Pilotless Bomber, and the XSSM-A-1 and YSSM-A-1 became XB-61 and YB-61, respectively.

Photo: Bob Bolton

The B-61A production missiles were slightly larger than the XB/YB-61's, and had a redesigned airframe, including high wings instead of mid-mounted ones. The first Matador squadron was operational at the end of 1953. The B-61A was armed with W-5 nuclear warhead with a maximum yield of about 50 kT. The missile was piloted via a radio link by a ground controller, who tracked the AN/APQ-11 control beacon of the missile via a network of ground-based AN/MSQ-1 radar stations. This guidance system, with its line-of-sight communications, limited the guided range of the missile to about 400 km (250 miles). It was also prone to enemy jamming.

The designations YQB-61, YQB-61A and QB-61A were also assigned. A Q prefix normally designated aerial target, but the use of then very new guided missiles as expendable targets appears very unlikely. The Q-prefixed designations most likely referred to recoverable test missiles.

In 1955, the USAF had second thoughts about designating missiles as aircraft, and the B-61A was redesignated as TM-61A Tactical Missile. The QB-61A became the QTM-61A.

Photo: Museum of Aviation

The later YTM-61B (YB-61B before 1955) was a significantly improved missile. Because of the many changes, it was redesignated as YTM-76 Mace, q.v.

The development of the TM-61B/TM-76 took longer than expected, so the USAF started to developed the interim YTM-61C (originally YB-61C) in 1954. This was basically a TM-61A equipped with the new Shanicle (Short Range Navigation Vehicle) guidance system. Shanicle used ground-based microwave emitters to generate hyperbolic grids for range and azimuth, which were used by the missile to find its target. With the new system, the guided range could be extended to the maximum possible flight range of the missile, about 1000 km (620 miles). The TM-61C became operational in 1957 and soon replaced all TM-61A's. The designation XQTM-61C probably referred to recoverable TM-61C test missiles.

Photo: Skytamer Images
TM-61C (MGM-1C)

In 1963, the TM-61C was redesignated as MGM-1C, although the last Matadors had been removed from active service in 1962. There were no MGM-1A/B designations, because no TM-61A's existed anymore, and the TM-61B/TM-76 Mace was redesignated in the MGM/CGM-13 series. About 1200 missiles of the TM-61A/C versions were produced.


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

Data for TM-61C (MGM-1C):

Length12.1 m (39 ft 7 in)
Wingspan8.7 m (28 ft 7 in)
Diameter1.2 m (4 ft 6 in)
Weight5400 kg (12000 lb)
Speed1040 km/h (650 mph); Mach 0.9
Ceiling10600 m (35000 ft)
Range1000 km (620 miles)
Propulsion Cruise: Allison J33-A-37; 20 kN (4600 lb)
Booster: Aerojet General solid-fuel rocket; 240 kN (55000 lb), 2 sec burn
WarheadW-5 nuclear fission warhead (50 kT)

Main Sources

[1] James N. Gibson: "Nuclear Weapons of the United States", Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 1996
[2] Kenneth P.Werrell: "The Evolution of the Cruise Missile", Air University Press, 1985
[3] Bill Gunston: "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rockets and Missiles", Salamander Books Ltd, 1979

Back to Current Designations Of U.S. Unmanned Military Aerospace Vehicles
Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles

Last Updated: 12 January 2006