Regulus I, US Navy`s first strategic guided cruise missile
At the end of Second World War America found herself with a strong submarine force of little strategic importance. Based on the design of the German V-1 rocket, the Regulus guided cruise missile program opened a new era that changed the strategic role of the submarine forever.
Development of the Regulus cruise missile SSM-N-8 began in 1947 by the United States Navy and Chance Vought Aircraft. This unmanned turbojet powered vehicle system was capable of delivering a 1,500kg 40-50 kiloton W5 or 1,400kg 1-2 megaton W27 thermonuclear warhead within a range of 500 n/miles.
Regulus is all but forgotten, a historical footnote to its successors, the Polaris, Poseidon, and Trident ballistic missiles that could be launched from submerged nuclear powered submarines. Regulus was also critical in paving the way for the development of today`s sophisticated Tomahawk cruise missile, and served as an important nuclear deterrent in the early days of the Cold War and during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Regulus was first deployed by the US Navy in 1955 in the Pacific onboard the cruiser USS Los Angeles CA-135. By 1956 the surface launched Regulus was deployed onboard specially designed diesel powered submarines. The USS Tunny SSG-282 and USS Barbero SSG-317 were the US first nuclear deterrent patrol submarines. They were joined by three additional Regulus submarines, USS Grayback SSG-574, USS Growler SSG-577, and the nuclear powered USS Halibut SSGN-587. Regulus submarine nuclear deterrent patrols ceased in 1964.
A second generation supersonic Regulus II cruise missile was under development to succeed Regulus I with a range of 1,200 n/miles and a speed of Mach 2. However, even though testing of Regulus II was successful, the program was canceled for budgetary reasons prior to going operational in favor of the Polaris ballistic nuclear missile.
A Regulus I cruise missile can be seen ready for launch onboard the USS Growler SSG-577 at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City.
Regulus I, General specifications:
The Regulus was basically a turbojet-powered remote-controlled aircraft guided by radio sugnals from submarines at periscope depth whose position was known from LORAN- LOng-RAnge Navigational system in which position is determined by an analysis involving the time intervals between pulsed radio signals from two or more pairs of ground stations of known position.
Delivery capability -1,500kg 40-50 kiloton W5 or 1,400kg 1-2 megaton W27 thermonuclear warhead
Cruise altitude -30,000ft (9,150m)
Fuselage Diameter -222.5mm
Wingspan (Extended) -992mm
Wingspan (Folded) -466.5mm
Wing Depth -30mm
Overall Height -363.5mm
Overall Length -1,963.5mm
Launch Gross Weight -6,200kg
||Submarine missile mail envelope (souvenir sheet)
||Missile mail, Regulus-I