Encyclopedia Astronautica
Hermes A-2


American tactical ballistic missile. The Army Hermes A-2 single stage test rocket proved the technology of large solid rocket motors as developed by H L Thackwell at Thiokol. But the Army preferred to have further development done in-house and JPL was selected to develop the Sergeant rocket. In addition to the flight tests, a total of 22 motors were static fired, including one after seven years of storage.

Hermes A-2 began as a 1947 concept for a wingless surface-to-surface derivative of the Hermes A-1, itself an American version of the German Wasserfall surface-to-air missile. By 1948 it was decided to start with a clean sheet of paper design, replacing the liquid propellants of the Wasserfall with a more tactically appropriate solid rocket motor. This low-cost single-stage missile would have a range of 120 km / 75 miles when carrying a nuclear warhead. Thiokol began development of the solid propellant motor in 1950. The production tactical missile would be armed with a 40 kT W-7 nuclear fission warhead. The Hermes project was cancelled in October 1952 and further development of the missile was assigned to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Thiokol's success in development of the solid rocket motor led to flight tests of the unguided RV-A-10 test vehicle in the rundown after the program cancellation. Four were flown successfully in February-March 1953.

Maximum range: 109 km (67 mi). Number Standard Warheads: 1. Standard warhead: W-7. Warhead yield: 40 KT. Boost Propulsion: Solid.

Historical Essay © Andreas Parsch

The original Hermes A-2 was a wingless surface-to-surface derivative of the Hermes A-1, but this project died early in the planning stage around 1947. The A-2 designator was revived in 1948, when it was assigned to a proposed low-cost short-range (120 km (75 miles)) surface-to-surface missile to be powered by a solid-propellant rocket motor. Because large solid rocket motors were essentially an unexplored field at that time, the Hermes A-2 project's initial focus was on the RV-A-10 propulsion test vehicle (most probably designated RTV-G-10 before mid-1951; see note (2) on designation table below). However, a tactical missile (to be armed with a 40 kT W-7 nuclear fission warhead) was also projected as SSM-G-13 (SSM-A-13 after mid-1951).

In 1950, Thiokol began the development of the United States' first large solid-fueled rocket motor. After numerous tests with subscale motors and static firings, the first flight of the RV-A-10 occurred in February 1953. It was successful and was followed by three more successful tests in March that year, which ended the program. The RV-A-10 was a completely unguided rocket, but it validated the concept of solid-fuel propulsion for large missiles. However, the tactical XSSM-A-13 Hermes A-2 had already been cancelled in October 1952, and the development of a solid-fueled short-range ballistic missile was assigned by the Army to the JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), leading to the SSM-A-27-MGM-29 Sergeant.

AKA: RV-A-10; SSM-G-13; RTV-G-10; SSM-A-13.
Gross mass: 3,530 kg (7,780 lb).
Height: 6.17 m (20.24 ft).
Diameter: 0.79 m (2.59 ft).
Span: 2.41 m (7.90 ft).
Thrust: 142.00 kN (31,922 lbf).
Apogee: 58 km (36 mi).
First Launch: 1953.02.11.
Last Launch: 1953.03.25.
Number: 4 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • A4 The V-2, known as the A4 to its developers, was the basis for most of the rocketry that exists in the world today. It was ineffective as a weapon of war, but represented a quantum leap in technology. The A1, A2, A3, and A5 were steps in the development of the missile. Later versions - the A6 through A12 - were planned to take the Third Reich to the planets. More...
  • Hermes Hermes was a major US Army project to implement German rocket technology after World War II. Development started in 1944 with award to General Electric as the prime contractor. The program was cancelled in 1954 after $ 96.4 million had been spent. Most of this was for nought since the Air Force received the long-range missile assignment in the end. More...
  • missile Guided self-propelled military weapon (as opposed to rocket, an unguided self-propelled weapon). More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Thiokol American manufacturer of rocket engines and rockets. Thiokol Corporation, Ogden, UT, USA. More...

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...

Associated Stages

Hermes A-2 Chronology


1953 February 11 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. LV Family: Hermes. Launch Vehicle: Hermes A-2. LV Configuration: RV-A-10 1.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 50 km (31 mi).

1953 March 4 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. LV Family: Hermes. Launch Vehicle: Hermes A-2. LV Configuration: RV-A-10 2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 50 km (31 mi).

1953 March 25 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. LV Family: Hermes. Launch Vehicle: Hermes A-2. LV Configuration: RV-A-10 3.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 50 km (31 mi).

1953 March 25 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. LV Family: Hermes. Launch Vehicle: Hermes A-2. LV Configuration: RV-A-10 4.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 50 km (31 mi).

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