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Skybolt ALBM
Part of Skybolt Family
Skybolt
Skybolt
Credit: via Andreas Parsch
American strategic air-to-surface ballistic missile, development started in 1959. Program cancelled amid huge controversy in 1963 after Britain had agreed to buy the weapon in place of its own Blue Streak.

AKA: AGM-48;AGM-48A;B-87;GAM-87;Skybolt. Status: Retired 1962. First Launch: 1962-04-19. Last Launch: 1962-12-22. Number: 6 . Thrust: 111.00 kN (24,953 lbf). Gross mass: 4,530 kg (9,980 lb). Height: 11.74 m (38.51 ft). Diameter: 1.10 m (3.60 ft). Span: 2.13 m (6.98 ft). Apogee: 20 km (12 mi).

In May 1959 Douglas was awarded the development contract for the WS-138A Skybolt missile. This was an air-launched, solid propellant, nuclear-armed missile designed as a standoff weapon for B-52H, B-70, and British Vulcan bombers. Drop tests began in January 1961, but early powered flights were dogged by failures. The first successful test came on 19 December 1962. On the same day the Kennedy administration cancelled the program, with operational repercussions for the USAF and Royal Air Force. It also created a huge political row between the United States and Britain.

The two-stage rocket used stellar-inertial navigation for precision attack of targets when penetrating Soviet air defenses. The USAF used its ‘interim' Hound Dog missiles in the standoff role until replaced by the SRAM Short Range Attack Missile in 1972-1976. Britain turned to Polaris submarine-launched missiles as its sole effective nuclear deterrent.

Development Cost $: 440.000 million in 1962 dollars. Maximum range: 1,610 km (1,000 mi). Boost Propulsion: Solid rocket. Maximum speed: 8,060 kph (5,000 mph). Initial Operational Capability: 1963.


More at: Skybolt ALBM.

Family: aircraft-launched, air-to-surface. Country: USA. Launch Sites: Cape Canaveral AMR DZ. Stages: Skybolt, Skybolt 2. Agency: Douglas. Bibliography: 2, 563.

1962 April 19 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral AMR DZ. Launch Pad: 29.0 N x 79.0 W. Launch Platform: B-52G. LV Family: Skybolt. Launch Vehicle: Skybolt ALBM. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 10 km (6 mi).

1962 June 29 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral AMR DZ. Launch Pad: 29.0 N x 79.0 W. Launch Platform: B-52. LV Family: Skybolt. Launch Vehicle: Skybolt ALBM. FAILURE: Failure.
  • No burn test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 12 km (7 mi).

1962 September 13 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral AMR DZ. Launch Pad: 29.0 N x 79.0 W. Launch Platform: B-52. LV Family: Skybolt. Launch Vehicle: Skybolt ALBM. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 10 km (6 mi).

1962 September 25 - . 14:09 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral AMR DZ. Launch Pad: 29.0 N x 79.0 W. Launch Platform: B-52. LV Family: Skybolt. Launch Vehicle: Skybolt ALBM. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 15 km (9 mi).

1962 November 28 - . 18:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral AMR DZ. Launch Pad: 29.0 N x 79.0 W. Launch Platform: B-52. LV Family: Skybolt. Launch Vehicle: Skybolt ALBM. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 10 km (6 mi).

1962 December 22 - . 14:15 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral AMR DZ. Launch Pad: 29.0 N x 79.0 W. Launch Platform: B-52. LV Family: Skybolt. Launch Vehicle: Skybolt ALBM.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 580 km (360 mi).


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