|Northrop SM-62 "Snark" -
The Snark was essentially a small, turbojet-powered, unmanned
aircraft, although it was officially designated a surface-to-surface
ICM, Intercontinental Missile. It was designed to be fired from
a short mobile launcher by means of two solid-fueled rocket boosters.
Once air-borne, the Snark was powered by a single Pratt and Whitney
J-57 turbojet I engine capable of cruising at Mach 0.9 to an altitude
of approximately 150,000 feet. After a programmed flight of 1,500 to
5,500 nautical miles, the Snark's airframe separated from its nose
cone, and the missile's nuclear warhead followed a ballistic
trajectory to its target. Plans developed by the Strategic Air Command
employed the Snark against enemy defensive systems, especially radars,
to ensure the effective penetration of enemy territory by manned
Development on the Snark started in 1946, with the
construction and testing of a missile designated N-25. New range and
payload requirements in 1951 caused Northrop to revisit the N-25
design. The new vehicle was christened the N-69. N-25s and N-69s were
launched from Cape Canaveral starting in 1952, with testing on the
production model (the SM-62) starting in 1956.
The Snark did not have to impact a target to terminate
the flight. It came equipped with landing skids, allowing it to
launched several times. At Cape Canaveral, many Snarks were landed on
the Skid Strip after testing. Of course, many Snarks did not skid to a
landing or impact their target. The program encountered many
problem, and accumulated a less-than-enviable flight record. The
number of Snarks crashing in the ocean led to warnings about "Snark
In a memorable incident in 1956, a Snark flew too far
and refused its destruct command, and disappeared over Brazil (a Miami
newspaper reported "They shot a Snark into the air, it fell to the
earth they know not where."). The missing missile was found by a
Brazilian farmer in 1983.
The best thing about he Snark was its J57 engine. It
and its s commercial equivalent, the JT3, reached the 18,000 lbs.
thrust level with an afterburner. When production ended in 1970, more
than 21,000 of these engines had been built. In addition to the B-52
and F-100, the J57 (or JT3) powered the Vought F8U; Douglas F4D, F5D,
and A3D; Boeing 707 and 720; Douglas DC-8; and numerous USAF aircraft
including the KC-135, F-101A, and F-102A.
Span: 42 ft. 3 in.
Length: 67 ft.
Weight: 48,147 lbs. without boosters
Nuclear Warhead, 4 MT
Engines: Pratt & Whitney
J57 jet engine
Thrust: 0,500 lbs. thrust
booster rockets of over 130,000 lbs. thrust each.
Max. speed: 650 mph/565 knots
6,325 statute miles/5,497 nautical miles
Service ceiling: 50,250 ft.