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

North American SSM-N-4 Taurus

In 1946, the U.S. Navy had several active strategic missile programs, but none of these would lead to an operational weapon before the early to mid-1950s. The Navy's means to deliver nuclear waepons at "long" range were limited to launching manned bombers with a range of not more than 1300 km (700 nm) from aircraft carriers. Feeling the need to compete with the U.S. Army Air Force in the field of strategic bombardment, the Navy sought for interim solutions until true long-range missiles would become available.

The proposed interim weapon was an unmanned version of the Navy's latest carrier-based heavy bomber, the North American AJ-1 Savage, which was nearing its first flight at that time. The projected missile was designated SSM-4 Taurus, changed to SSM-N-4 in early 1948. The mixed-power (piston/turbojet) SSM-N-4 was planned to have a range of at least 2600 km (1400 nm), and was to be controlled on the initial portion of its flight by an accompanying control aircraft.

Photo: National Archives
XAJ-1 Savage

As it turned out, the unmanned AJ-1 was a still-born idea, and the Taurus project was cancelled in 1948. No Savage airframe was ever completed in XSSM-N-4 unmanned prototype configuration.


I have no information about the exact characteristics of the planned XSSM-N-4 Taurus missile. The AJ Savage configuration, which was current at the time of Taurus program cancellation, is represented by the XAJ-1 prototype (first flown in July 1948), the data of which are presented below. It can be assumed, however, that the weight and range figures for the unmanned SSM-N-4 variant would have been significantly different.

Data for XAJ-1:

Length19.22 m (63 ft 0.7 in)
Wingspan21.76 m (71 ft 4.6 in)
Height6.25 m (20 ft 6.2 in)
Weight22700 kg (50000 lb)
Speed725 km/h (450 mph)
Ceiling12200 m (40000 ft)
Range2700 km (1700 miles)
Propulsion2x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-44W piston engine; 1700 kW (2300 hp) each
1x Allison J33-A-10 turbojet; 20.4 kN (4600 lb)

Main Sources

[1] Norman Friedman: "US Naval Weapons", Conway Maritime Press, 1983
[2] Kevin Thompson: "North American Aircraft 1934-1999, Volume 2", Narkiewicz/Thompson, 1999
[3] Steve Ginter: "North American AJ-1 Savage", 1992

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

Last Updated: 7 January 2003