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Diamondback: China Lake's Nuclear "Sidewinder"

overscan (PaulMM)

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In the early 1950s, the possibility of Soviet supersonic high altitude bombers resulted in a desire for a longer range, higher speed Sidewinder. This was called Diamondback and had a 12 inch diameter instead of the 5 inch diameter of Sidewinder. A demand thrust bipropellant liquid fuel propulsion unit was needed to accelerate and then maintain missile velocity just short of IR dome overheating speeds.

Diamondback also used a nuclear warhead, to guarantee a kill.

The project ran from 1955 to 1958.

Sources:

D. G. Blanchard "A brief history of Air-Intercept Missile 9 (Sidewinder)"
J. M. Robbins "The China Lake Propulsion Laboratories"
 

Orionblamblam

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overscan said:
In the early 1950s, the possibility of Soviet supersonic high altitude bombers resulted in a desire for a longer range, higher speed Sidewinder. This was called Diamondback and had a 12 inch diameter instead of the 5 inch diameter of Sidewinder. A demand thrust bipropellant liquid fuel propulsion unit was needed to accelerate and then maintain missile velocity just short of IR dome overheating speeds.

Diamondback also used a nuclear warhead, to guarantee a kill.


Doesn't sound a whole lot like a Sidewinder...
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Well, it was a scaled up Sidewinder in basic configuration I think. However, changing size, propellant and warhead would rather change the basic design.
 

Andreas Parsch

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Orionblamblam said:
Doesn't sound a whole lot like a Sidewinder...

Doesn't look like one, either (see attached image).

Source of the drawing is

C.M. Hanson: "Characteristics of Strategic, Tactical and Research Missiles", Convair San Diego, 1954/58

The document is online at https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/388603.pdf

[link updated - admin]
 

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flateric

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Andreas, cool stuff as always! Seems they have shortage of typewriters this time)
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Length: 148" (3.76m)
Diameter: 12" (0.305m)
Span: 22" (0.559m) (wings folded, canards) 40" (1.01m) wings unfolded
Weight: 850lb
Warhead: continuous rod HE or 0.75Kt nuclear
Guidance: IR & Passive radar
Propulsion: Liquid proplellant rocket, UDMH/RFNA
Range: Tail attack, 15-20 miles at altitudes of 20,000-70,000ft
Speed: Cruise at Mach 3 above 35000ft
Altitude: 80,000ft max

Expected to be operational in 1960.
 

PMN1

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Orionblamblam said:
overscan said:
In the early 1950s, the possibility of Soviet supersonic high altitude bombers resulted in a desire for a longer range, higher speed Sidewinder. This was called Diamondback and had a 12 inch diameter instead of the 5 inch diameter of Sidewinder. A demand thrust bipropellant liquid fuel propulsion unit was needed to accelerate and then maintain missile velocity just short of IR dome overheating speeds.

Diamondback also used a nuclear warhead, to guarantee a kill.


Doesn't sound a whole lot like a Sidewinder...

Obviously mutated by the radiation.....
 

Graham1973

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PMN1 said:
Orionblamblam said:
overscan said:
In the early 1950s, the possibility of Soviet supersonic high altitude bombers resulted in a desire for a longer range, higher speed Sidewinder. This was called Diamondback and had a 12 inch diameter instead of the 5 inch diameter of Sidewinder. A demand thrust bipropellant liquid fuel propulsion unit was needed to accelerate and then maintain missile velocity just short of IR dome overheating speeds.

Diamondback also used a nuclear warhead, to guarantee a kill.


Doesn't sound a whole lot like a Sidewinder...

Obviously mutated by the radiation.....

One wonders what other serpents are hiding in the archives...
 

dannydale

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Graham1973 said:
PMN1 said:
Orionblamblam said:
overscan said:
In the early 1950s, the possibility of Soviet supersonic high altitude bombers resulted in a desire for a longer range, higher speed Sidewinder. This was called Diamondback and had a 12 inch diameter instead of the 5 inch diameter of Sidewinder. A demand thrust bipropellant liquid fuel propulsion unit was needed to accelerate and then maintain missile velocity just short of IR dome overheating speeds.

Diamondback also used a nuclear warhead, to guarantee a kill.


Doesn't sound a whole lot like a Sidewinder...

Obviously mutated by the radiation.....

One wonders what other serpents are hiding in the archives...
Holy necropost, Batman! :eek:
 

Michel Van

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Warhead 0.75Kt nuclear ,that must be a Variant of W54 called W72, Wat was used in AGM-62 Walleye bomb.
AGM-62 use some technology from the AIM-9 Sidewinder...
 

pathology_doc

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Orionblamblam said:
overscan said:
In the early 1950s, the possibility of Soviet supersonic high altitude bombers resulted in a desire for a longer range, higher speed Sidewinder. This was called Diamondback and had a 12 inch diameter instead of the 5 inch diameter of Sidewinder. A demand thrust bipropellant liquid fuel propulsion unit was needed to accelerate and then maintain missile velocity just short of IR dome overheating speeds.

Diamondback also used a nuclear warhead, to guarantee a kill.


Doesn't sound a whole lot like a Sidewinder...

I think it's only a Sidewinder inasmuch as "evolution or modification of existing design" is a lot easier to sneak past the bean counters than "concept for a new missile".
 

Milos

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they could fit nuclear warhead in 12" diameter cylinder back then ???
 

Sea Skimmer

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In 1958 the US tested the Swift device which was only 127mm diameter and weighed about 100lb. Supposedly a 105mm device weighing 40lb was declared feasible by the US military in the late 1960s, but not developed because of the limited range of 105mm artillery. If you had a nuke like that then you could make a normal AIM-9 Sidewinder nuclear given a shortened rocket motor and heavier 40lb vs 25lb warhead!
 

Grey Havoc

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Found a little tidbit:
In 1956, the U. S. Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) first
originated the idea of using a variable-area type of injector system for
varying thrust to meet an operational requirement for an air-to-air
missile system called Diamondback. A year later NOTS demonstrated
the feasibility in a 0-5, 000-pound thrust motor using the variable-area
injector principle.

I found a reference in another old document that suggests Aerojet may have played a direct role in the Diamondback project, but it is not very clear unfortunately (there was a possible hint of an institutional memory hole within Aerojet circa. 1999 in this regard).
 
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RAP

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F3H-2 was designed to use this missile. Info from McDonnel Report No. 5263 dated April 1, 1957 on the F3H-2 Demon All-Weather Fighter.
 

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TomS

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F3H-2 was designed to use this missile. Info from McDonnel Report No. 5263 dated April 1, 1957 on the F3H-2 Demon All-Weather Fighter.

Interesting that this slide also mentions Sparrow III-IR. We just had a question about that somewhere else. Where was it?

Edit: Here
 

Dilandu

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Frankly I think that nuclear version of Sparrow was a better starting point... It was bigger, and could be adapted to carry nuke more easy, than rather narrow Sidewinder.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Its only using the general layout of Sidewinder - its actually a lot bigger than a Sparrow.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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The video has some great information on the original NOTS Sidewinder 1A/1B/1C (different from the produced designs) folding fin Sidewinder ("Foldwinder"), Raywinder, DIamondback, and the various improved homing heads. I didn't know the Foldwinder seeker was used on the Redeye SAM/ It also shows the IRAH (Infra-Red Alternate Head) and SARAH (Semi-Active Radar Alternate Head) and the dual-mode seeker.
 

uk 75

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The USAF did deploy a nuclear version of the ubiquitous and not very effective Falcon family.. Interestingly the warheads were then paased on to a nuclear version of the Walleye glide bomb.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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More screenshots of Diamondback. Note the high speed wind tunnel testing model.
 

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