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American air-to-surface missile, development started in 1946. Program cancelled in 1958. Project originated as Bell Aircraft Corp / AAF / Project MX-776. Requirement for a 160 km range air-launched guided missile was overcome by other technology during its protracted development.

AKA: GAM-63; MX-776. Status: Cancelled 1958. Thrust: 52.90 kN (11,892 lbf). Gross mass: 8,250 kg (18,180 lb). Height: 9.73 m (31.92 ft). Diameter: 1.22 m (4.00 ft). Span: 5.09 m (16.69 ft). Apogee: 26 km (16 mi).

Development Cost $: 448.000 million in 1952 dollars. Maximum range: 185 km (114 mi). Boost Propulsion: Storable liquid rocket. Maximum speed: 1,610 kph (1,000 mph). Initial Operational Capability: 1958.

Historical Essay © Andreas Parsch

Bell ASM-A-2-B-63-GAM-63 Rascal

The Rascal was the first nuclear-armed air-launched standoff missile of the U.S. Air Force. However, it was never fully operational and was replaced by the much more modern GAM-77-AGM-28 Hound Dog.

In 1946 the U.S. Army Air Force awarded study contracts for various general air-to-surface missile requirements to several aerospace companies. In 1947, all studies were terminated except for Bell's MX-776 project, and in May that year Bell received a development contract for the ASM-A-2 Rascal missile. Between April 1949 and Jaunary 1953, the RTV-A-4-X-9 Shrike test vehicle tested the Rascal's general aerodynamic design, radio control system and liquid rocket propulsion system. In 1951, the USAF assigned aircraft designations to its guided missiles, and the Rascal became the B-63. In September 1952, the first air-launch of a powered XB-63 from a specially modified DB-50D occurred. Testing continued with XB-63 prototypes and B-63 production-representative missiles. Initially the Rascal had a radio command guidance system by Federal Telecommunications-RCA, but this was replaced in later missiles by a Bell-developed inertial navigation system (INS). The designation B-63A most likely referred to the INS-equipped missiles.

In 1955, the Air Force stopped the use of aircraft designations for missiles, and the Rascal was redesignated in the GAM-63 series as follows:

Old Designation New Designation
XB-63 XGAM-63
B-63 GAM-63
B-63A GAM-63A

The GAM-63 was powered by a Bell LR67 liquid-propellant rocket engine with three combustion chambers. The large missile had to be carried externally by the DB-47E carrier aircraft. The Rascal's forward flying surfaces comprised fixed horizontal and movable dorsal and ventral fins, and the rear surfaces were made up by wings with ailerons and non-moving (but foldable) dorsal and ventral vertical tails. The initial models were guided to the target by radio commands from the launching aircraft, but the final GAM-63A missiles used an inertial guidance system. The accuracy was around 900 m (3000 ft) CEP for the radio-command guided and 450 m (1500 ft) for the inertially guided missiles. The Rascal had a range of about 160 km (100 miles) at a speed of Mach 1.6. Initially, the GAM-63 was to use a W-5 nuclear fission warhead, but this was later changed to a 2 MT W-27 thermonuclear device.

The first squadron of DB-47E bombers was established in late 1957, but the unit never became fully operational with the Rascal. The program was terminated in November 1958, and the last GAM-63A was withdrawn in 1959. Because of its limited range and accuracy, and its difficult-to-handle liquid-fueled rocket engine with its toxic propellants, the Rascal was far inferior to the newer GAM-77-AGM-28 Hound Dog, which was then in advanced development. About 150 GAM-63 missiles of all variants had been built.


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

Data for GAM-63A:

Length 9.74 m (31 ft 11.5 in)
Wingspan 5.09 m (16 ft 8.3 in)
Diameter 1.22 m (4 ft)
Weight 6120 kg (13500 lb)
Speed Mach 1.6
Range 160 km (100 miles)
Propulsion Bell XLR67-BA-1 liquid-fueled rocket; 53.3 kN (12000 lb)
Warhead W-27 thermonuclear (2 MT)
Main Sources

[1] James N. Gibson: "Nuclear Weapons of the United States", Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 1996
[2] Bill Gunston: "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rockets and Missiles", Salamander Books Ltd, 1979

Family: aircraft-launched, air-to-surface. Country: USA. Engines: LR67. Agency: Bell. More at: 8533. Bibliography: 17, 281, 39, 563.

1945 October 31 - . LV Family: Rascal. Launch Vehicle: Rascal.
  • US Strategic Missile Programs Begin - . Nation: USA. Program: Navaho.

    Request For Proposals were issued to 17 contractors by the US Army Air Force for studies of a 10-year R&D program of four missile types. The missiles were to be air-, rail-, road-, or ship- transportable, and fit in three range categories: 280 to 800 km; 800 to 2400 km; and 2400 to 8000 km. Minimum speed was 970 kph, requiring turbojet, ramjet, or rocket propulsion.

March to April 1946 - . LV Family: Rascal. Launch Vehicle: Rascal.
  • Army Air Force awards nine one-year missile study contracts. - . Nation: USA. Program: Navaho.

    The MX-770 contract for an 800-km range boost-glide missile derived from the German A9 concept went to North American; this would evolve into the Navaho triple-sonic intercontinental cruise missile. Martin received a contract for development of the MX-771, a subsonic ground-launched cruise missile with an 800-km range; it would evolve into the Matador and Mace missiles. Curtiss-Wright and Republic received contracts for the MX-772 and MX-773 surface-to-surface missiles; they never advanced beyond the initial study stage. Convair received the contract for long-range rocket-powered missiles; this evolved into the Atlas ICBM. Northrtop received the MX-775 contract for a 5000-km range cruise missile; this eventually flew as the Snark. Bell receives a contract to develop the MX-776, a 160-km range rocket-powered supersonic missile to be launched from B-29 bombers. This would evolve into the Rascal. McDonnell received a study contract for the MX-777 air-to-surface missile; this evolved into the anti-submarine 'hydrobomb' concept and was eventually transferred to the Navy. Goodyear received contracts for the MX-778 and MX-779 air-to-surface missiles; these never advanced beyond the preliminary study stage. Concurrently, the USAAF had the GARPA surface-to-air missile project underway, which would evolve into Bomarc; the USA Army the Corporal and Hermes (later Redstone) surface-to-surface missiles and the Nike and Hermes A1 surface-to-air missiles; and the Navy a range of missile technology development projects (Regulus, Bat, Kingfisher, Little Joe, Lark, Bumblebee, Gorgon, Dove).

1949 September - . LV Family: Rascal. Launch Vehicle: Rascal.
  • Cold War intensifies - US missile programs given higher priority - . Nation: USA. Program: Navaho.

    Reacting to Russia's explosion of an atomic bomb, and the Communist victory in China's civil war, the US military begins increasing funding to the low-priority missile development programs begun in 1946. The Martin MX-771 tactical cruise missile is reinstated; additional funds are plowed into the Rascal and Snark programs; and the Corporal tactical missile is modified to carry a nuclear warhead. The Navaho aerodynamic design is frozen so that fabrication of the XSSM-A-2 flight articles can begin.

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