Encyclopedia Astronautica

Credit: © Mark Wade
Credit: © Mark Wade
Russian surface-to-air missile. First surface-to-air missile deployed by the Soviet Union. Under a crash program ordered by Stalin, development began in 1951, first guided launch was in 1953, and by 1956, 2,640 launchers were deployed in defence of Moscow. The system was upgraded with improved missiles and ground systems into the 1960's.

The ever-growing bomber force of the American Strategic Air Command left Stalin feeling defenceless against nuclear annihilation. By mid-1950 it was clear that the development work being conducted at NII-88 on surface-to-air missiles based on German technology was not producing any useful result. Although much had been accomplished, a lot of fundamental work remained to achieve an operational weapon. The effort spent on Wasserfall- and Schmetterling-derived missiles was now considered obsolete. The planned R-108, R-109, and R-112 successors had completed the design phase, but guidance system and propulsion technology were still not sufficiently advanced to support further development. So Stalin decided to start with a clean sheet of paper. He turned to his secret police chief, Lavrenti Pavlovich Beria, and ordered him to supervise a crash program to field an operational system to protect Moscow at the earliest possible date.

Design bureau MV SB-1 had been created in 1947, and staffed by prisoners - German and Russian scientists and engineers - dedicated to developing cruise missiles. The director was Pavel Nikolayevich Kusenko, and chief engineer was Sergei Laurentevich Beria (son of the secret police chief). One night in 1950 Kusenko received a call from Stalin. They were to drop everything and make the air defence of Moscow their top priority. SB-1 was renamed KB-1, and given the Moscow air defence project, code named Berkut. First tests of the missile were ordered to take place within 12 months from Kapustin Yar.

Berkut was to consist of concentric rings of radar stations around Moscow. The outer ring would search for and identify enemy incoming airborne targets. The stations would use the A-100 radar developed by L V Leonov, operating in the 10 cm band. Controllers would direct fighter aircraft to the targets, where they would fire G-400 air-to-air unguided barrage rockets to down the American bombers.

Targets that got within the outer defences would be handed over to two rings of fire control radars, which would guide surface-to-air missiles to their targets. These B-200 radars were to be developed by Kusenko and Beria. They would be collocated with V-300 surface-to-air missiles, which were to be developed by Lavochkin (KB-1's designation for this rocket was '205'). Other major subcontractors included Isayev for the liquid propellant engine, K I Kozorez for the Ye-600 high explosive fragmentation warhead, N S Rastogruev for the radio data command system, N S Lidorenko for the electrical system, and V P Barmin for the missile launcher-transporter. The 205 took full advantage of earlier work done at NII-88, with 10 specialists being transferred to OKB-301 to expedite development.

The outer ring of surface-to-air missile rings was 90 km from the centre of Moscow, the inner ring, 48 km. Each ring consisted of 66 sites, each with a B-200 radar and 20 V-300 rockets on 20 launchers. The sites included living quarters for the launch crews, and technical areas for systems maintenance. The head of KB-1 responsible for the laboratories, factories, and capital investments necessary for this vast system was A S Yelyan, Hero of Soviet Labour and former director of the Gorkov Artillery Factory.

Containerised modules were developed for control of the radar and missiles and mounted on mobile KZU-16 surface-to-air missile/artillery trailers. Apparatus 'L' provided a video link and automated lock-on capabilities, tracking, fire commands, and other radio links that guided the missile to its target. German specialists developed the AZh video monitor for use by the system controllers. They produced a very clear display that indicated in a natural manner the co-ordinates for the missile. In parallel with the German team, Vannikov and Ryabchilov led Russian engineers in development of an alternate approach.

As subcontractor to system integrator KB-1, OKB-301 began work on the V-300, the single-stage missile for the Berkut Moscow air defence system in September 1950. The crash development program resulted in the first factory trials of the missile in July 1951. These would be followed by tests of the live rocket in the Berkut defence zone around Moscow.

At the end of 1950 Isayev's Section 9 of OKB-2 NII-88 began development of the 9 tonne thrust engine for the missile. This was based on the four-chamber R101B-3600 in development for the R-101B SAM. The resulting engine for the 205, the S09.29.0-0 differed from the R101B-3600 only in a beefed-up structure and propellant feed lines. The engine was pressure-fed using a ram air compression system. In the week of 25-30 March 1951 the S09.29.0-0 completed control tests mounted to a 205 airframe and was accepted by the military for production.

In 1951 Lavochkin formed a special guidance and control group under G N Babakin. They were to study a canard aerodynamic scheme for the missile, with four wings aft and four canards forward. This was found to be the best solution over the whole range of velocities from zero velocity through supersonic.

Meanwhile the responsible sections at NII-88 were reorganised to accelerate the development work. Responsibility for further SAM development was transferred to MAP (the ministry in charge of air force procurement) in August 1951. Work on derivatives of the German SAMs was ended.

Further factory trials of the engine planned for the 205 missile showed that the loss of the hermetic seal in the chamber head resulted in thrust oscillations. The fix was a version with a sealed chamber head, designated S09.29.0-0B. From 27 to 29 January 1952 this modification completed controlled stand trials mounted in a 205 airframe.

In October 1952 the first guided launch of a V-300 missile was made, with the rocket being steered by the B-200 radar to a designated point in space. In April 1953 the first test launch was made against a target Tu-4 aircraft (the Soviet copy of the B-29). These targets were crewed! The crews were provided with parachutes and were to bail out in case of a hit.

Series production of he 205 began in 1952, and the system entered service with the PVO in sites around Moscow in 1953.

In 1953, after the death of Stalin and arrest of L P Beria, his son was replaced in SB-1 by S M Vladimirskiy. The Berkut system was redesignated S-25, and A A Raspletin was named as the new Chief Designer. After these changes the German and Russian prisoner-engineers disappeared from SB-1.

The fixed-site S-25 was a multi-target system, capable of tracking and guiding missiles toward more than one target at a time. Several mobile versions were on the drawing board at the end of 1953. The S-75 truck-mounted system would give the missile mobility, but could be directed at only one target at a time. The S-50 was a train-mounted version of the S-25. All of these would have used a modernised version of the S-25 missile and its tracking and control systems. But they were all abandoned in favour of a new generation of surface-to-air missiles with double the range.

By the end of the 1950's Moscow and Leningrad would be protected by the S-25 system developed by SB-1. However with the closure of further research activities at SB-1, OKB-301 and other bureaux would be responsible for future development of Soviet surface-to-air missiles.

Radars: R-113 Gage target acquisition radar, E/F band, range 300 km. Yo-Yo target tracking radar, E/F band, range 150 km. P-14 Tall King early warning radar, A band, range 600 km. PRV-9 Patty Cake height finding radar, D/E band, range 200 km.

Standard warhead: 250 kg (550 lb). Maximum range: 45 km (27 mi). Boost Propulsion: Storable liquid rocket, F-1 or M50/TG-02, pressure-fed. Cruise Thrust: 83.300 kN (18,727 lbf). Cruise Thrust: 8,500 kgf. Maximum speed: 1,500 kph (900 mph). Minimum range: 35 km (21 mi). Initial Operational Capability: 1955. Floor: 3,000 m (9,800 ft). Tracking Radar: Yo Yo /F.

AKA: SA-1; M-1; S-25; Guild; Berkut; V-300.
Status: Retired.
Gross mass: 3,500 kg (7,700 lb).
Payload: 250 kg (550 lb).
Height: 12.00 m (39.00 ft).
Diameter: 0.71 m (2.32 ft).
Thrust: 83.30 kN (18,727 lbf).
Apogee: 25 km (15 mi).

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • Isayev 218 Isayev Nitric acid/Amine rocket engine. 218 (S-25 system). Out of Production. Launch thrust 166 kN. More...
  • S09.29 Isayev Nitric acid/Amine rocket engine. 88 kN. V-300/V-303 (S-25 system). Out of Production. More...
  • S5.44 Isayev Nitric acid/Amine rocket engine. 177 kN. SAM-missile 5Ya24. Out of Production. Could be throttled. 177-49 kN sea-level. Area ratio 118 - 44. More...

See also
  • Russian SAMs and ABMs Perhaps no missiles ever produced had as much historical influence as the surface-to-air missiles of the Soviet Union. Originally conceived to provide a defence against the American bomber fleets of the early Cold War, they decisively affected the turn of events when they shot down American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft over Russia and Cuba. Soviet-provided missiles accounted for a hundred American aircraft over North Vietnam and set the terms of the air battle. A new generation of missiles presented a huge technological surprise and took an awful toll of Israeli aircraft in the 1973 war. To this day, Russian surface-to-air missiles provide the only defence available to most countries against American bombers, and Russian man-portable anti-aircraft missiles are a major part of the terrorist threat. More...
  • S-25 First surface-to-air missile deployed by the Soviet Union. Under a crash program ordered by Stalin, development began in 1951, first guided launch was in 1953, and by 1956, 2,640 launchers were deployed in defence of Moscow. The system was upgraded with improved missiles and ground systems into the 1960's. More...
  • missile Guided self-propelled military weapon (as opposed to rocket, an unguided self-propelled weapon). More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Almaz Russian manufacturer of rockets. Almaz Design Bureau, Moscow, Russia. More...
  • Grushin Russian manufacturer of rocket engines and rockets. Fakel Machine Building Design Bureau named for P D Grushin, Khimki, Russia. More...

  • Parsch, Andreas, DesignationSystems.Net, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Yeftifyev, M D, Iz istorii sozdaniya zenito-raketnovo shchita rossii, Vuzovskaya kniga, Moscow, 2000. Web Address when accessed: here.

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