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25 June 2009
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The following "article" is adapted from RyanCrierie (on another forum) and Andreas Parsch (on his website).

Bomber defense missiles actually go way back. Under the general moniker BDM (Bomber Defense Missile), the U.S. Air Force funded studies for bomber-launched air-to-air missiles in the 1950s. Beginning in 1954, Cornell Aeronautical Laboratories began to work on BDM concepts and control system designs. Cornell actually designed a test vehicle, but no information about the extent of a flight test program (if any!) or the results of Cornell's program is available. At one time in the project, the Weapons Systems designator WS-126A was assigned, either to the Cornell missile or the BDM effort in general.

The only Bomber Defense Missiles the USAF ever looked at were basically FFARs and some weird flying-saucer thing codenamed Pye Wacket that came pretty close to ending up as the B-70s defensive armament. The idea came back briefly in the 70s and 80s, and the NAA Hornet (an ancestor of what became Hellfire) was in the running for that, but it never went anywhere.

As for the U.S. Navy, there was a semi serious program going on around 1958 for a Bomber Defense Missile to equip the P6Ms with. A whole host of proposals got sent in.

Known contenders to the U.S. Navy BDM proposal were as follows:

  • Admiral-Beech PD-111/-1
  • Avion (ACF)
  • Bendix
  • Bell 69
  • Emerson
  • Grumman G-143 Bushfire
  • Motorola
  • Sperry Gyroscope SMD-109
  • Westinghouse Electric

More on the B-70's planned BDMs here:,6815
I'd guess that BDMs have gotten farther than is publicly known. It's hard to believe that, in a world where supersonic seaplanes, parasite fighters and airborne atomic reactors get flight-tested, a fairly straightforward concept requiring (relatively) modest investment has been kicking around for 50+ years without reaching at least the hardware stage.
Andreas Parsch lists the MX-1601 on the Missile Scrapbook webpage (, but only says that the MX-1601 designation is linked to either the North American Nasty BDM or a BDM proposal from Cornell Aeronautical Laboratories. Does anyone have extra information on the MX-1601?
info from several sources incl US Air Force System Command - Development of Airborne Armament 61-52-2.

Integrated bomber defense project initiated September 1952. Primarily intended for B-58 “Hustler” bomber. Incorporated an independent missile study of a jet-vane controlled, rearward fired, guided rocket that could change course by up to 90° after launch. Known contractors included McDonnell Aircraft Corporation and General Electric. USAF Wright Air Development Center (WADC) recommended cancellation of project December 1953 citing technical difficulties. Several sources include reference to North American Aviation Corporation “Nasty” rocket under MX-1601.
The “Nasty” rocket was described as a novel device proposed by North American Aviation in 1953. The small and light-weight, spin stabilised projectile with only 1.5 inches diameter (3.81 cm) and with low recoil forces. Launched from multiple tube cluster giving a high firing rate from a compact turret. Due to simplicity, small size and weight it could potentially be housed in locations previously unavailable to higher weight, larger weapons with higher recoil.
Hope this helps
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Windtunnel model of Grumman Design 143 'Bushfire' self-defence AAM for Martin P6M SeaMaster.



Grumman Design 143 "Bushfire" P6M Bomber Defense Missile

A little bit of info on the Grumman Design 143 Bushfire rear-firing SARH missile system that would have been fitted to production Seamasters:

Attached image courtesy of MKSheppard at the above link.

Text from that is:

One of the least-known projects undertaken by Grumman during the late 1950s was the Bushfire rear defence system for the P6M-2 strategic flying-boat then being developed by Martin for the Navy. Whereas the two XP6M-1 prototypes had a twin-gun tail turret, production P6M-2s were to have been fitted with the Grumman Design 143 Bushfire system using SARH (semi-active radar homing) missiles launched to the rear. As shown in the accompanying drawing dated 15 January, 1957, one missile was carried in a launching tube, ready to be fired as soon as an enemy aircraft was detected by the Aero X23B search radar. Four to six additional missiles were carried on a revolver-type housing forward of the launching tube. Cancellation of the P6M-2 programme resulted in the demise of the Bushfire system.

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