Encyclopedia Astronautica

R-3A Conjectural
Conjectural drawing of the R-3A. The actual configuration has never been released, but it seems to have been a conical body as recommended by Groettrup equipped with an R-2 engine. This configuration would lead directly to the R-7 ICBM and N1 super booster
Russian intermediate range ballistic missile. So much new technology was involved for the R-3 that it was deemed necessary to build an R-3A intermediate experimental rocket, based on the R-2. This would be flown to test new construction methods, guidance systems, and high energy propellants. The R-3A was specified in 1949 to have a 900 to 1000 km range with a payload of 1530 kg; an unfuelled mass of 4100 kg; 20,500 kg of propellants; and a lift-off thrust of 40 tonnes. The R-3A could also serve as a prototype for a more modest IRBM. Flight tests of the R-3A were scheduled for October 1951.

The R-3 itself was cancelled when difficulties were encountered in engine development and the decision was made to proceed directly to the R-7 ICBM. During its development the range of the R-3A had settled on 935 km with only a 500 kg payload. It was cancelled in October 1951 without ever flying, with the technology being applied to the R-5 and R-11 missiles. The Russians have been very reluctant to reveal the configuration of the R-3A. It seems likely that it was actually a subscale version of Groettrup's G-4 design, and formed the technical basis for both the R-7 ICBM and N1 super launch vehicle.

to a: 935 km range. Standard warhead: 500 kg (1,100 lb). Maximum range: 900 km (550 mi).

Stage Data - R-3A

  • Stage 1. 1 x R-3A. Gross Mass: 19,900 kg (43,800 lb). Empty Mass: 3,500 kg (7,700 lb). Thrust (vac): 434.400 kN (97,657 lbf). Isp: 235 sec. Burn time: 83 sec. Isp(sl): 210 sec. Diameter: 1.65 m (5.42 ft). Span: 3.50 m (11.40 ft). Length: 20.00 m (65.00 ft). Propellants: Lox/Alcohol. No Engines: 1. Engine: RD-102. Status: Development 1951. Comments: Further incremental upgrade of R-2. Payload 500 kg. Range 935 km. Developed from 1949 to October 1951. Cancelled, work combined with 8K14 development.

AKA: 8A63.
Status: Cancelled 1951.
Gross mass: 23,400 kg (51,500 lb).
Payload: 500 kg (1,100 lb).
Thrust: 400.00 kN (89,920 lbf).

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • RD-102 Glushko Lox/Alcohol rocket engine. 428 kN. R-3A. Development ended 1951. Project for R-3A experimental missile. Stopped in favor of RD-103. Isp=235s. More...
  • RD-3A Glushko Lox/Alcohol rocket engine. R-3A. Out of Production. Project for R-3A experimental missile. Stopped in favour of RD-103. More...

See also
  • Early Russian Ballistic Missiles The true configuration of the world's first ICBM, the R-7, was revealed only in 1967, ten years after its first test. The Soviet N1 moon rocket was only revealed in 1990, 21 years after its first launch. At the same time, other Russian ballistic missiles were routinely paraded before the cameras of the world press even before they went into service. The extraordinary sensitivity of the Soviet leadership over these Korolev designs may be traced to the fact that they derived from the work of the Groettrup German rocket engineering team. More...
  • missile Guided self-propelled military weapon (as opposed to rocket, an unguided self-propelled weapon). More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Korolev Russian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Korolev Design Bureau, Kaliningrad, Russia. More...

  • Semenov, Yuri P Editor, Raketno-kosmicheskaya korporatsiya 'Energia' imeni S P Koroleva, Moscow, Russia, 1996.
  • Pervov, Mikhail, Raketnoye Oruzhiye RVSN, Violanta, Moscow, 1999..
  • Karpenko, A V, Utkin, A F and Popov,A D, Otechestvenniye strategischeskiye raketnoye kompleks, Sankt-Peterburg: Nevskii bastion; Gangut 1999..

Associated Stages
  • R-3A Lox/Alcohol propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 19,900/3,500 kg. Thrust 434.40 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 235 seconds. Further incremental upgrade of R-2. Payload 500 kg. Range 935 km. Developed from 1949 to October 1951. Cancelled, work combined with 8K14 development. More...

R-3A Chronology

1949 December 7 - . LV Family: R-11; R-7. Launch Vehicle: Buran; Burya; G-4; R-3; R-3A; R-5.
  • Groettrup G-4 IRBM evaluated against Korolev's R-3. R-3 project reformulated - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev. Program: Navaho. The NTS (Scientific-Technical Soviet) of NII-88 met in plenary session and subjected Korolev's proposal to withering criticism. The G-4 was found to be superior. After heated discussion, the Soviet approved further development of technology for the R-3, but not the missile itself. The decisions were: an R-3A technology demonstrator would be built and flown under Project N-1 (probably to prove G-4 concepts). Under Project N-2 both the RD-110 and D-2 engines would proceed into development test in order to prove Lox/Kerosene propellant technology. Packet rocket and lightweight structure research for use in an ICBM would continue under project N-3 / T-1. Winged intercontinental cruise missile studies would continue under project N-3 / T-2. Neither the G-4 or R-3 ended up in production, but the design concepts of the G-4 led directly to Korolev's R-7 ICBM (essentially a cluster of G-4's or R-3A's) and the N1 superbooster. Work on the G-4 continued through 1952.

1951 October 20 - . LV Family: R-11; R-5. Launch Vehicle: R-3; R-3A.
  • MOP decree authorised work to start on the R-5 and R-11. - . Nation: USSR. The R-3 3000 km range missile and R-3A subscale technology demonstrator were cancelled. As a replacement work was to start on the R-5 and R-11. The missiles originated as Theme N-2 of the R-3 project. This was an alternate approach to delivering nuclear warheads on West European targets - road-mobile or sub-launched missiles of shorter range with lighter warheads that could be launched from forward areas and reach enemy targets.

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