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

MIT/Bell AAM-N-5 Meteor

In November 1945, the U.S. Navy Bureau of Ordnance awarded the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) a missile development contract under the project name Meteor. The initial studies covered both surface-to-air and air-to-air missile components, and various types of propulsion (solid rocket, liquid rocket, ramjet) were considered. Eventually only the air-to-air missile was selected for development under the designation AAM-N-5, and Bell was selected to develop and build the airframe. The first XAAM-N-5 prototypes were launched in July 1948 from JD-1 Invader aircraft, and test launches from fighters (F3D Skynight) began in 1951.

The XAAM-N-5 used a solid-propellant booster and a liquid-fueled sustainer rocket, and was guided by a semi-active radar homing system. For flight stabilization and control, the Meteor had fixed cruciform tail fins and forward-mounted control wings. It reached a speed of more than Mach 2 and range is quoted as up to 40 km (25 miles), although the latter figure was probably only valid for head-on engagements under optimum conditions. The missile was equipped with an 11 kg (25 lb) blast-fragmentation warhead.

The AAM-N-5 development program was cancelled in 1953, presumably because the contemporary AAM-N-2/AIM-7 Sparrow was a more promising missile.


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

Data for XAAM-N-5:

Length (w/o booster)2.90 m (9 ft 6 in); booster: 1.35 m (4 ft 5.25 in)
Wingspan0.75 m (2 ft 5.4 in)
Finspan1.02 m (3 ft 4.25 in)
Diameter21 cm (8.25 in); booster: 22.6 cm (8.9 in)
Weight (w/o booster)177 kg (390 lb); booster: 86 kg (190 lb)
Speed> Mach 2
Range40 km (25 miles)
PropulsionSustainer: Liquid-fueled rocket; booster: solid-fueled rocket
Warhead11 kg (25 lb) blast-fragmentation

Main Sources

[1] Norman Friedman: "US Naval Weapons", Conway Maritime Press, 1983
[2] Frederick I. Ordway III, Ronald C. Wakeford: "International Missile and Spacecraft Guide", McGraw-Hill, 1960
[3] Bill Gunston: "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rockets and Missiles", Salamander Books Ltd, 1979

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

Last Updated: 6 January 2003