Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
Copyright © 2004-2007 Andreas Parsch

Oerlikon/Contraves RSC-51 (MX-1868)

In 1947, the swiss companies Oerlikon-Bührle & Co. and Contraves AG began the development of a guided short-range surface-to-air missile. The initial production-ready version was the RSC-50, development of which was completed in 1950 (as indicated by the digits in the designation). This missile was actually the world's first commercially available anti-aircraft guided missile. In 1952, the U.S. Air Force evaluated 25 examples of the slightly improved, but otherwise very similar, RSC-51 at Holloman AFB under the project designation MX-1868.

Photos: via Gatland

The RSC-51 was launched from a mobile trailer and powered by a liquid-fueled rocket engine. It used a beam-riding guidance system developed by Brown-Boveri. The tracking radar and beam transmitter were located on a second trailer. The missile was equipped with four small fixed stabilizing wings, and was steered by exhaust-deflection control vanes. The RSC-51's high-explosive warhead was detonated by a proximity fuze.

No details about the USAF's evaluation of the MX-1868/RSC-51 missile are available, but the weapon was not further procured by the U.S. military. However, in the international market later models of the Oerlikon/Contraves missiles (RSC-54, RSC-56, RSC-57 and RSC/RSD-58) were reasonably successful, having been used by Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and Japan (usually as a training missile only, though).


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

Data for MX-1868:

Length5.0 m (16 ft 6 in)
Diameter40 cm (15 in)
Weight250 kg (550 lb)
Speed750 m/s (2460 fps)
Ceiling20000 m (66000 ft)
Range20 km (12.5 miles)
PropulsionLiquid-fueled rocket
Warhead20 kg (44 lb) high-explosive

Main Sources

[1] Bill Gunston: "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rockets and Missiles", Salamander Books Ltd, 1979
[2] Kenneth W. Gatland: "Development of the Guided Missile", Philosophical Library, 1954

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4

Last Updated: 1 July 2007