Encyclopedia Astronautica
Lark



wlark.jpg
Lark
Credit: via Andreas Parsch
American surface-to-air missile. Lark missile.

Development of the Lark anti-aircraft missile began in late 1944 as an anti-Kamikaze weapon. In a crash program, parallel contracts were awarded to Fairchild and Consolidated-Vultee. However by the time flight testing began in June 1946 the war was over. Lark used two solid propellant rocket boosters for initial acceleration, and a two-chamber Reaction Motors LR2-RM-2 liquid-propellant engine for cruise. Cruciform wings and tailfins provided stability and control. The 45 kg (100 lb) warhead was detonated by a proximity fuse.

As was usual for early missiles, the guidance system was the biggest challenge. Early tests used a manual radio-guidance system. The Fairchild missile used radio-command mid-course guidance and semi-active radar terminal homing. The Convair missile used beam-riding for mid-course guidance and a radar for active terminal homing. As the years went by, development of alternate designs under the Navy Bumblebee program showed greater promise. Lark was terminated soon after test launches from the USS Norton Sound had begun in 1950. Surplus rockets were used later to test the guidance system for the US Army's Lacrosse missile.

Failures: 15. Success Rate: 62.50%. First Fail Date: 1950-10-26. Last Fail Date: 1953-04-22. Launch data is: complete.

Historical Essay © Andreas Parsch

Fairchild KAQ-SAM-N-2-CTV-N-9 Lark
Convair KAY-SAM-N-4-CTV-N-10 Lark

The Lark anti-aircraft missile program began in late 1944, when the U.S. Navy needed a new weapon against the ever more serious Japanese suicide-bomber (Kamikaze) threat. In January 1945, a Lark configuration had been established, and requirements included ship defense against Kamikaze attack, reconnaissance aircraft, and enemy aircraft launching standoff weapons. In March that year, a contract was awarded to Fairchild for the production of 100 Lark test missiles. Because of slow progress by Fairchild, in a backup contract for another 100 Larks was awarded to Consolidated-Vultee in June 1945. In October 1945, the Fairchild and Convair Lark were designated as KAQ and KAY, respectively, and flight testing of KAQ-1 and KAY-1 vehicles began in June 1946.

The KAQ-1-KAY-1 was propelled by a Reaction Motors LR2-RM-2 two-chamber liquid-propellant rocket engine, and used two solid-fueled rocket boosters for take-off. Later Larks used a slightly improved LR2-RM-6 engine, and the designations KAQ-2 and KAY-2 most probably apply to missiles with the upgraded engine. The Lark had cruciform wings and tailfins for stability and control, and the booster assembly used a peculiar "square" fin arrangement. The KAQ's wings had flaps, while the KAY used variable-incidence wings. The Lark was armed with a 45 kg (100 lb) high-explosive warhead, which was detonated by a radar proximity fuze. The early test flights used a simple manual radio-command guidance system, but by 1947 the development of guidance systems requiring no human operator had begun.

In September 1947 and early 1948, the Lark models were redesignated as follows:

Old Designation September 1947 ca. February 1948
KAQ-1 XSAM-2 XSAM-N-2
KAQ-2 XSAM-2a XSAM-N-2a
KAY-1 XSAM-4 XSAM-N-4
KAY-2 XSAM-4a XSAM-N-4a

The Fairchild SAM-N-2 eventually used a guidance system known as "Skylark", consisting of radio-command mid-course guidance and semi-active radar guided terminal homing. A ship-borne radar and fire-control system tracked both the Lark and the target aircraft, computed the interception course of the missile, and sent steering commands when necessary. Within a range of 16 km (10 miles) from the target, the SAM-N-2 could use its AN-DPN-7 radar to home on the radar reflections from the target. The Convair SAM-N-4 used a radar beam-riding mid-course guidance system known as "Wasp", and had an AN-APN-23 radar for active terminal homing.

Testing of the Lark from ship-borne launchers began in 1950 on the missile test ship USS Norton Sound, and several interceptions of target drones succeeded. However, the Lark anti-aircraft missile program was terminated in late 1950, because the contemporary Bumbleebee program of the Bureau of Ordnance (Lark was a Bureau of Aeronautics program) showed much more promise (and would eventually lead to such missiles as the SAM-N-6-RIM-8 Talos, SAM-N-7-RIM-2 Terrier and RIM-24 Tartar).

After the tactical Lark had been cancelled, the remaining missiles continued to be used as control test vehicles. As such, the SAM-N-2 and SAM-N-4 were redesignated as CTV-N-9 and CTV-N-10, respectively. There were several variants of the CTV-N-9, designated CTV-N-9a, CTV-N-9b and CTV-N-9c, but I don't know specifics about these versions. The CTV-N-9 and -10 were used throughout the early 1950s by the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Army to evaluate radar guidace systems, and equipment and procedures related to missile launching, stability and control. The U.S. Army also used Lark test vehicles (designating them as RV-A-22) to develop the guidance system for the SSM-A-12-MGM-18 Lacrosse surface-to-surface missile.

Specifications

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

Data for XSAM-N-2:

Length (w-o booster) 4.24 m (13 ft 11 in); booster: 1.40 m (4 ft 7 in)
Wingspan 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Finspan 1.22 m (4 ft)
Diameter 46 cm (18 in)
Weight (w-o booster) 550 kg (1210 lb); booster: 370 kg (810 lb)
Speed Mach 0.85
Ceiling ?
Range 55 km (30 nm)
Propulsion Sustainer: Reaction Motors LR2-RM-2 liquid-fueled rocket (XSAM-N-2a: LR2-RM-6)
Booster: Solid-propellant rocket
Warhead 45 kg (100 lb) high-explosive
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
[4] US Navy: "Model Designations of Naval Aircraft", 1947 and 1950
[5] National Air and Space Museum Website


AKA: SAM-N-2; SAM-N-4.
Status: Retired 1953.
Gross mass: 900 kg (1,980 lb).
Height: 5.60 m (18.30 ft).
Diameter: 0.46 m (1.50 ft).
Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).
First Launch: 1950.10.25.
Last Launch: 1953.07.08.
Number: 40 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • LR6 Reaction Motors liquid rocket engine. Lark SAM-N-2, CTV-N-9. More...
  • XLR24AJ-2 Aerojet Nitric acid/Gasoline rocket engine. Lark. Launch thrust 10.7 kN. Development begun January 1946. Blast turbine, 2500 Ibf fixed thrust (both were part of overall R&D contract) More...
  • XLR20AJ-2 Aerojet Nitric acid/Gasoline rocket engine. Lark. Launch thrust 6.66 kN. Development begun January 1946. Blast turbine, three levels of thrust (600/1000/7500 lbf). Replaced NM Lark. More...

See also
  • missile Guided self-propelled military weapon (as opposed to rocket, an unguided self-propelled weapon). More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Fairchild American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Fairchild, USA. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Emme, Eugene M, Aeronautics and Astronautics: An American Chronology of Science and Technology in the Exploration of Space 1915-1960, NASA, 1961. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Gunston, Bill,, Rockets and Missiles, Salamander, London, 1979.
  • Parsch, Andreas, DesignationSystems.Net, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Walker, Chuck, with Powell, Joel, Atlas - The Ultimate Weapon, Apogee Books, Canada, 2005.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...

Associated Stages
  • Lark-1 Solid propellant rocket stage. Loaded mass 500 kg. Thrust 2.80 kN. More...

Lark Chronology


During 1946 - . Launch Vehicle: Lark.
  • Lark Program - . Nation: USA. Summary: Vultee Lark missile program in progress.

1950 October 25 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 225.
  • - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi). Summary: The first Lark missile launched by Air Force from Cape Canaveral, the last of the three missiles launched in 1950 at the LRPG..

1950 October 26 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 226. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1950 November 21 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 227.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1951 April 11 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 231. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1951 April 17 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 232.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1951 May 3 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 234.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1951 May 11 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 235.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1951 May 29 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 242. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1951 June 7 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 236.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1951 June 7 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 238. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1951 July 3 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 240.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1951 July 20 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 239. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1951 September 13 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 593. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1951 September 19 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 595.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1951 October 4 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 597. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1951 December 11 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 598.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1952 January 28 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 600.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1952 February 12 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 604. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1952 February 28 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 596. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1952 March 21 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 594. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1952 April 10 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 602. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1952 April 17 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 601. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1952 May 16 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 603.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1952 June 24 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 230.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1952 July 7 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 592.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1952 July 15 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 606. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1952 September 17 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 608.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1952 November 28 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 610.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1952 December 4 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 599.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1952 December 16 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 605. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1953 February 12 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 607.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1953 February 24 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 612.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1953 March 3 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 611.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1953 March 16 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 621.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1953 April 8 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 622.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1953 April 22 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 614. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1953 April 28 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 623.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1953 May 12 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 624.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1953 May 14 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 613.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1953 July 8 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LA. Launch Vehicle: Lark. LV Configuration: Lark 626.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

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