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"
 
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...
 
Well, it was a scaled up Sidewinder in basic configuration I think. However, changing size, propellant and warhead would rather change the basic design.
 
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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Andreas, cool stuff as always! Seems they have shortage of typewriters this time)
 
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.
 
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.....
 
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...
 
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:
 
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...
 
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".
 
they could fit nuclear warhead in 12" diameter cylinder back then ???
 
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!
 
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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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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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
 
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.
 
Its only using the general layout of Sidewinder - its actually a lot bigger than a Sparrow.
 
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.
 
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.
 
More screenshots of Diamondback. Note the high speed wind tunnel testing model.
 

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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
I think this gives us an idea of what happened to it. I found a mention of it in this report about the systems going into the proposed F4H-1 and F8U-3
https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/citations/tr/AD0367910
A change in the operational concept is required if value is to be derived from the proposed weapon system flexibility to be achieved through the use of IR Sparrow III missiles or other mixed load capabilities when targets of interest approach those spelled out in the operational requirements. The preliminary study shows that for high speed targets VT/VF - 1, the rear hemisphere area (high probability area for: IR seeker) Is not attainable because of the inability of the interceptor system to attain a proper launch position. For cases where VT/VF - 0.8 or less marginal capability exists for the IR technique. Thus, reappraisal of the tactical use concept for IR capability is indicated.
Followed by
21. Analysis of system performance resulting from use of the Sparrow III IR seeker will begin as soon as sufficient data is supplied by the contractor. To date the information available to NRL is not adequate to warrant an analysis.
22. Results of incorporation of the Sidewinder missile in the system will be investigated. Forthcoming study effort will initially be based upon estimates of missile performance, since design of the Sidewinder Ic (This is the Aim9D) will not be frozen during the remaining study interval.
 

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