Air Force Bases

R-36 (SS-9 Scarp) Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

On November 7th 1967 the Soviet Union struck a chill of fear into Western observers by trundling through Red Square some of the first of these mighty missiles, then easily the biggest and most capable of any mass-produced weapon in history. Development started as a far more capable successor to Sapwood around 1959, with two tandem stages, storable liquid propellants and a clean single-tube configuration. Probably RFNA/kerosene are used, and the first stage has a ring of six fixed thrust chambers, plus four gimbal-mounted verniers behind fairings around the skirt, which control the trajectory and trim the cutoff velocity at stage separation. The second stage has tankage of the same diameter but tapers to a very large blunt reentry vehicle. The latter has its own post-boost propulsion, making three stages in all. Extremely long and accurate flights in 1963-1965 disturbed the Americans, and when deployment in giant underground silos began in 1965 this missile was casing as much alarm as the Foxbat 2,000 mph aircraft.

Subsequently five stages of development were identified by the DoD: Mod 1, the original ICBM, with the first-generation silo and warhead of about 20 megatons; Mod 2, the main production SS-9 with 25 megaton warheads, then the largest on any missile; Mod 3, flown over depressed-trajectory missions, sacrificing range to reduce enemy radar warning time, and also over planned FOBS missions, the first being Cosmos 139 on January 25th 1967 and later followed by many others mostly at an orbital inclination of 49.5 degrees; Mod 4, with three MRVs, used for test in 1969-1970 and 1973 with the three warheads impacting with the same spread as the three silos of a typical USAF Minuteman complex; and Mod 5; flown from Tyuratam with satellite-killing warheads against orbital targets put up from Plesetsk by a series of SS-5-derived launch vehicles. By 1975-1976 there were 313 SS-9 silos operational with the RVSN, but, as the even bigger SS-18, took over, these missiles were being withdrawn and used in trials and training programs.

Dimensions: Length (Mod 2) about 118 feet; diameter about 10 feet 2 inches.
Launch weight: About 418,871 pounds
Range: (Mod 2) over 7,456 miles.

R-36 (SS-9 Scarp) Russian-Soviet Intercontinental Ballistic Missile