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Vought Regulus I and Regulus II whatifs

Archibald

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Just a random idea in passing...

In the 50's some aircraft carriers and heavy cruisers were converted for Regulus 1 launches. Then the much improved Regulus II was cut short by Polaris.
Whatif
- Regulus I and, most importantly, Regulus II were developped in non-nuclear variants ? and later used in Vietnam ?
- Whatif these missiles allowed long term survival of a lot of WWII era ships
a) Worcester-class big CL
b) Baltimore, Oregon, Des Moines class CA
c) Alaska-class battlecruisers
d) Independance and Saipan light carriers

Let's the fun begin...
 

Archibald

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I know the guidance systems were pretty bad. Alternatively, how about saturation strikes to deplete the SAM launch sites in Vietnam ? before the manned aircraft follows ?
 

uk 75

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The 50s cruise missiles were popular with Revell as kits, and are still easily found. Snark and Navaho in continued service, alongside Atlas and Titan into the sixties would be a fun alternate reality. Minuteman and Polaris are coming, but take much longer in this world.
 

sferrin

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I'd always wished they'd got Navaho / Triton / Rigel going.
 

Archibald

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Navaho was a terrific flying machine, pity it never got a chance.

Wow. Triton and Rigel seemed to be on league with Regulus II. Why three similar programs were ran in parallel, is beyond me.
Ok, added to the list.

Now that alt- USN is really becoming sexy as hell. That, plus P6M Seamasters escorted by Convair Sea Dart. Imagine, fighting the Vietnam war with all these things...

Whatif naval jets were delayed, just enough that cruise missiles with conventional warheads become the only game in town ?
No angled-deck, for a start - USS Forrestal didn't had it at the very beginning...

Angled deck gets delayed, so naval jets become a little too slow and vulnerable against early SAMs.

End result: USN start a massive rebuild of whatever WWII 10 000 tonne+ CL / CA / CB / BB / light carrier they can turn into a cruise missile platform...
 
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royabulgaf

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First thing. Someone mentioned the Regulus guidance system wasnt that good. With thermonuclear warheads, wasn't that good was good enough. With conventional explosives, they could just be a waste.
 

Archibald

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I acknowldeged this. Basically these vehicles would be only good as
- AQM-34 drones OTL missions (part of it was reconnaissance, part of it was cannon fodder for SAMs - see below). also ECM, jamming...
- cannon fodder to deplete the SA-2 sites before the piloted aircraft follow
- ARM with Shrike / Standard systems, once again to screw the SAM sites and clear the path to piloted aircraft.

But they couldn't be Tomahawks, make no mistake. Not only because of shitty guidance systems, but also the lack of VLS, contenair-ized launch boxes. Those things were huge and their engines were expensive - big turbojets borrowed from reusable combat aircraft when these missile were single use.

Still, an Alaska is a pretty large hull and if you take the unfinished ships and turned them into specialized cruise-missile platforms, maybe you could get some kind of "proto Arsenal ship". In the sense of packing a decent number of these missiles into a single hull.
Same for the unfinished Iowa class battleships - USS Illinois and Kentucky. The cruisers hulls by contrast would probably be too small.
 

sferrin

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Not only because of shitty guidance systems, but also the lack of VLS, contenair-ized launch boxes. Those things were huge and their engines were expensive - big turbojets borrowed from reusable combat aircraft when these missile were single use.
Various Russian ship-launched missiles, to scale, with Regulus II.

PKR2.jpg
 

Archibald

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Many thanks Sferrin. Hell of a colossus, indeed.
 

uk 75

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My alt for this simply assumed delays in Polaris and Atlas mean that the USN gets a few nuclear subs with Regulus 2 as planned. The USAF bases Snarks and Navahos in Florida and Okinawa.
By 1965 the bugs are ironed out of Polaris and Minuteman has arrived. Atlas is moved to NASA.
Regulus, Navaho and Snark airframes are then used for various test and black programmes
 

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That's a very expensive cruise missile for conventional attacks. Probably cost the Navy about the same as an A-4. That's ugly math.
INS accuracy is going to related to range. And it falls off quickly as distance increases. And the problem in Vietnam wasn't, generally speaking, putting ordinance on fixed strategic targets (assuming we could hit one with a Regulus II).

Hard to see what it could add that the Lightning Bugs weren't doing much more cheaply. Navy even toyed with them suing RATO rail launches off a carrier (either the Oriskany or Ranger, I don't remember which off the top of my head). Bonus points for being potentially recoverable and a fraction of the price.
 

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The Regulus II actually had a pretty decent guidance system. Some of the technology developed for it was subsequently used in the Apollo program.

That's a very expensive cruise missile for conventional attacks. Probably cost the Navy about the same as an A-4. That's ugly math.
Given that the Navy's aircraft losses overall were beginning to look ugly, in part due to idiotic ROEs imposed by Washington, then such expenditure does begin to look a little more reasonable.
 

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I mean, a three-thousand pound warhead would make a big boom, but not enough to compensate for INS drift. You've got problems at long range/time even today if you're relying solely on an INS. Lightning Bugs had issues of their own, and presumably the technology involved was similar. Some experiments were made with TERCOM/TAINS around this time for the Ryan drones, but this is going to drive your price up on a disposable missile, and I'm not sure how much help this is going to be (in the context of hitting a fixed target).
We're already looking at the price of a Scooter (or more) for a one shot delivery of 3,000 lbs? That's 3,4,5 times(?) the cost of the Ryan drones, but it seems it'd be easier to use something based on that. Easier to justify Regulus II in the context of a nuclear deterrent program than a mass of them used for conventional strike or decoys.

I mean, it'd be cool as hell, I agree. Just doesn't make much sense haha
 

Archibald

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Some experiments were made with TERCOM/TAINS around this time for the Ryan drones, but this is going to drive your price up on a disposable missile
TERCOM, here we go with this one. AFAIK it was used by the early tomahawk, AGM-86 or whatever was its name. And that's a disposable vehicle...
 

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Sure. That's late seventies development/early 80's operational period, so two decades later in the case of Regulus II. A decade or more later than the Lightning Bugs first deployment in Vietnam.
What did advances in computing and digital memory occurred between those decades? You have to have a map to reference. As far as I know the Bugs that did get TERCOM/TAINS, had small snap shots of maps of the route. INS flew the route, radar would cross reference the preloaded map and update INS-position as it recognizes known map features. Basically a snap of a way point, and you hope the INS gets you close enough to recognize it, and then updates current position for the next leg to the waypoint/snapshot.

We're a long way in the late 50's/mid-60's from completely mapped out routes stored on a cruisemissile and navigated by digital computer in the early 80's.
 

sferrin

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IIRC TERCOM was developed for Pluto SLAM (at least it was started during those days).

"In 1971, a Hound Dog missile was test-flown with a newly developed Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) navigation system. Reportedly, the designation AGM-28C was reserved for this version of the Hound Dog if development had been continued. While a Hound Dog with TERCOM was never deployed, this technology, with much better electronics and digital computers, was later used in both the Air Force's Air Launched Cruise Missile and the Navy's Tomahawk.[11] "
 

Dilandu

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IIRC TERCOM was developed for Pluto SLAM (at least it was started during those days).
But they have ATRAN system on Mace missile before it. It was more primitive, of course - purely analogue - but it worked good enough to guide missile about 100 meters above the ground in late 1950s.
 

Dilandu

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I mean, a three-thousand pound warhead would make a big boom, but not enough to compensate for INS drift. You've got problems at long range/time even today if you're relying solely on an INS
Well, in theory, we could install optical contrast seeker from Walleye on the missile, and long-range transmission system. I.e. when missile would reach the target area, it would activate the TV camera, and translate the image to operator onboard the ship or control plane. Operator would seek for the target and lock camera on it, thus aiming the missile. Of course, the missile would need to be over the horizon for control station...

P.S. Our old P-35 anti-ship missile actually have man-in-the-loop; its radar seeker could be used as radar sight, transmitting the radar image to the operator. So operator could discriminate the targets, and lock missile on the chosen. It could also be used against shore targets as well, if they were sufficiently radio-contrast.
 

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IIRC TERCOM was developed for Pluto SLAM (at least it was started during those days).

"In 1971, a Hound Dog missile was test-flown with a newly developed Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) navigation system. Reportedly, the designation AGM-28C was reserved for this version of the Hound Dog if development had been continued. While a Hound Dog with TERCOM was never deployed, this technology, with much better electronics and digital computers, was later used in both the Air Force's Air Launched Cruise Missile and the Navy's Tomahawk.[11] "
The idea popped up with Mace and ATRANS in the 50's. The technology just wasn't there to implement it until much later. Hound Dog experiment was also still a TAINS system. You need terminal guidance. And in the case of Regulus II, we're still quite away from theory to working product.
 

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Well, in theory, we could install optical contrast seeker from Walleye on the missile, and long-range transmission system. I.e. when missile would reach the target area, it would activate the TV camera, and translate the image to operator onboard the ship or control plane. Operator would seek for the target and lock camera on it, thus aiming the missile. Of course, the missile would need to be over the horizon for control station...
I'd probably be uncomfortable with a long-range connection's resistance to jamming with a megabuck cruise missile. I don't think we're advanced enough for a second high resolution radar-guidance system to pick out our target yet. We've got some nontrivial hurdles (and decades of advancement in memory and computing) to get there.

But you're right. That's exactly what we need. I guess you could escort one with something equipped to guide it in like a Walleye, but that's a hell of a way to deliver 3,000 pounds of explosive, when I have to be in the neighborhood anyway.
 

Dilandu

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The idea popped up with Mace and ATRANS in the 50's. The technology just wasn't there to implement it until much later.
Well, with all my love to analogue tech, must admit, that ATRAN wasn't exactly user-friendly. It required painstaking preparation of the flight area map on microfilm, so missile could scan it in flight line-by-line, and compare the analogue signal from the map scanning photocell with the output of terrain-scanning radar. If I recall correctly, essentially they were forced to build scale models of flight area using high-precision geographic maps, and film them to prepare the microfilm for the missile...
 

Dilandu

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But you're right. That's exactly what we need. I guess you could escort one with something equipped to guide it in like a Walleye, but that's a hell of a way to deliver 3,000 pounds of explosive, when I have to be in the neighborhood anyway.
Actually, I suspect that if USN wanted the conventionally-armed land-attack missile in 1960s, it would probably made one out of AQM-34 drones. They were substantially cheaper, much easier to handle than "Regulus", and also well-known and reliable. The combination of mid-course radio command guidance (with transponder beacon on drone) and Walleye-delivered contrast seeker for terminal guidance would probably be sufficient for about 150-200 km range. The main problem would be, that AQM-34 drone could not actually carry heavy warhead, but well, even 1000-pdr bomb are quite a reasonable - and in case you needed more, you could put a W-72 nuke inside...
 

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The idea popped up with Mace and ATRANS in the 50's. The technology just wasn't there to implement it until much later.
Well, with all my love to analogue tech, must admit, that ATRAN wasn't exactly user-friendly. It required painstaking preparation of the flight area map on microfilm, so missile could scan it in flight line-by-line, and compare the analogue signal from the map scanning photocell with the output of terrain-scanning radar. If I recall correctly, essentially they were forced to build scale models of flight area using high-precision geographic maps, and film them to prepare the microfilm for the missile...
Basically a contrast matcher. Which was relatively easy to implement. The first hard part is unlike a map, contrast matching only works from one relative angle. Radar is only painting distances. If I am too high, too low, too far right, too far left, etc, then my picture looks nothing like the one I am trying to match. The second one, as you note, is I need to build a very accurate map/picture to build the route gates. Either by model or actual flight. We can tell how easy that part was by how long the Air Force played with it before going back to INS systems.

TERCOM would be more complicated, need a lot more and faster processing power, and a lot more memory. And we'd need to load the map (manually) for the route to target (after we built it).

We've come a very long way. Now our INS is only a backup for our other systems. Thanks to massive improvements in computing power.


Actually, I suspect that if USN wanted the conventionally-armed land-attack missile in 1960s, it would probably made one out of AQM-34 drones
Which is essentially what they did with the 147's deployed on the carrier in Vietnam. Which they also gave up on. They used them briefly for post-strike analysis, and then said, "No, thanks".

Meanwhile, USAF was quietly experimenting and using them operationally for photo reconnaissance, ELINT, EW, signature control, decoys, EO-transmitting, manual rf control, INS, TAINS, bullshit bombing, etc looking for an edge and developing technology.
 

Dilandu

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Basically a contrast matcher. Which was relatively easy to implement. The first hard part is unlike a map, contrast matching only works from one relative angle. Radar is only painting distances. If I am too high, too low, too far right, too far left, etc, then my picture looks nothing like the one I am trying to match. The second one, as you note, is I need to build a very accurate map/picture to build the route gates. Either by model or actual flight. We can tell how easy that part was by how long the Air Force played with it before going back to INS systems.
As far as I understood the ATRAN, it compared the voltage from photocell scanning the map (the terrain heights on the map were differentiated by color change), with the voltage from radar scanning the terrain below the missile. The idea was, that if signals from scanning the central part of the map & the signals from radar are - roughly - comparable, they would cancel each other, and autopilot would assume that it is flying within the programmed path.

If the coincidence of photocell and radar signals were not at the central part of the map, but, say, close to the left (or right) edge, the autopilot would took it as the missile deviated from course, and set it back on course.

Pretty elegant system, but, of course, utter pain to actually operate...

Meanwhile, USAF was quietly experimenting and using them operationally for photo reconnaissance, ELINT, EW, signature control, decoys, EO-transmitting, manual rf control, INS, TAINS, bullshit bombing, etc looking for an edge and developing technology.
Ironic, that initially in Vietnam it was Navy who was interested in the guided bombs and missiles, while the Air Force was all "nah, we have nukes, and all we need is planes to deliver them")
 

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As far as I understood the ATRAN, it compared the voltage from photocell scanning the map (the terrain heights on the map were differentiated by color change), with the voltage from radar scanning the terrain below the missile. The idea was, that if signals from scanning the central part of the map & the signals from radar are - roughly - comparable, they would cancel each other, and autopilot would assume that it is flying within the programmed path.

If the coincidence of photocell and radar signals were not at the central part of the map, but, say, close to the left (or right) edge, the autopilot would took it as the missile deviated from course, and set it back on course.

Pretty elegant system, but, of course, utter pain to actually operate...
I thought it was lateral radar scans from a pre-determined nonvariant altitude (which thus needed an accurate radar altimeter). But my memory isn't what it once was, and you could well be right. I'll delve into some reading later, and see what I can dig up.
 

Dilandu

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I thought it was lateral radar scans from a pre-determined nonvariant altitude (which thus needed an accurate radar altimeter). But my memory isn't what it once was, and you could well be right. I'll delve into some reading later, and see what I can dig up.
Quite probably you are right - I may not recall its clearly either. Also, English is not my native, so I may have a bit of problem with trying to elaborate.
 

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have the guidance plane stand out a couple miles out of gun range while it crashes into Dragon's Jaw and fail to bring it down .
 
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