The Corporal Missile

The Corporal Missile [pinit]

The Corporal Missile

The Corporal Missile – © Copyright 2012 by William Beem

The Corporal Missile was America’s first operational guided missile. It’s also the first authorized missile to carry a nuclear warhead for us. It had a 75 mile range, which isn’t that far compared to the inter-contentinental missiles of the Cold War. However, this little baby came about shortly after WWII and a 75 mile range probably seemed like a long way.  At least until the wind blows the nuclear fallout back on your position.

The other problem with this missile is that it had a reputation of not going where it was supposed to go. You could use it to lob a nuke somewhere, but it was inaccurate, so you had to hope it hit someone you didn’t like. Otherwise, you know, that would be awkward. The first versions had less than a 50% accuracy rating. Fortunately, the next generation Corporal’s improved their accuracy. That helped improve sales, too!

The Corporal missile in this photo was taken at the Udvar-Hazy National Air & Space Museum in Virginia. There’s another one a few miles from my home at the Air Force Space & Missile Museum at Cape Canaveral. Between these two sites, there are just a ton of missiles in our museums documenting the progress made from early German V2 rockets to some cruise missiles with much more sophisticated guidance systems and range.

These things were always of interest to me because it was kind of the family business. My father worked for Martin Marietta (later Lockheed Martin) producing a number of missiles and components. My brother is still there, and I spent some time out there, too. I worked on some of the final Pershing refits, Patriot missiles, and mostly on the Precision Guided Weapons that included Hellfire, Copperhead and Deadeye missiles.

Kids used to play with toy model versions of this thing that actually launched. I’m even willing to bet that the toy version of the Corporate Missile was more accurate than the real thing. Unfortunately, it would be difficult to put that to the test now. If nothing else, I’d like to see what range the toy version could reach.