Air Force Bases

Plan of Development

The first outline of a hopeful minimum schedule, drafted as early as 27 July 1945, envisioned the execution of NIKE development by four agencies as listed in Figure 1. As the project progressed, however, this rather optimistic schedule had to be repeatedly revised. For instance, the total number of articles tested tripled the number visualized in the original estimate, and the time of the entire R&D program extended to April 1952-that is, to six and three-quarters years rather than four.

The actual history of the project, as viewed in retrospect, is reflected in Figure 2. The progress of the complex system is divided into major channels of pursuit relating to the computer, the radars, the control machinery, the booster, the missile structure, its aerodynamic performance, and its damage potential. Here again, the story cannot be told by merely following these columns through the years, because the efforts overlap, branch off, and recombine, and because other components such as the launcher, the test equipment, and accessories came into focal view as specific problems were encountered.

In line with the schedule shown in Figure 2, the project was broken down into several phases, each of which was established as a yearly development program. The 1946 Missile, designated as Model NIKE-46, was to be designed and fabricated for a field test program to study uncontrolled vertical flight. Wooden dummies and powered NIKE-46 Missiles were scheduled for firing at White Sands Proving Ground to provide information on launching methods, booster propulsion, separation, motor performance, and flight stability data. The NIKE-47 model was to be a revised version of the NIKE-46 for continued uncontrolled vertical flight studies. Programed control and roll stabilization were to be incorporated and tested in the NIKE-48 model. The final product, with full ground control and warhead provisions, was scheduled for completion and test as the NIKE-49 model.

Figure 1.  Tenative NIKE Development Schedule--July 1945
Figure 1. Tenative NIKE Development Schedule--July 1945

Figure 2.  Synopsis of Major Steps of NIKE Development
Figure 2. Synopsis of Major Steps of NIKE Development