The scientific tourist #294 — TM-76A Mace Missile

From the South Dakota Air and Space Museum (in lovely Box Elder, South Dakota), a 1/8 scale model of the TM-76A (later redesignated MGM-13A) Mace missile:

TM-76A Mace Missile

The Mace was an early U.S. cruise missile — follow-on to the Matador, which was essentially the first U.S.-designed cruise missile (we’ll leave the Loon out of this for now).  

So, the Matador looked very much like this critter, and was guided by ground commands sent via radio — an improvement in range and accuracy over the German V-1 (its technological ancestor), but still obviously not optimum since its radio guidance could easily be jammed.

The Mace was essentially improved Matador — with stretched fuel tanks, a more powerful warhead (2 MT vs. 40 KT), a mobile launcher, and improved guidance.  The “A” model Maces introduced a terrain-matching guidance system based on radar and internal (film!) maps.  This brought it back to the “fire and forget” operational approach, although its radar still could be jammed with effort.  Subsequent Mace models came with even more precise onboard guidance, although at the cost of again requiring fixed / hard launch sites.

Much like the V-1, the Mace needed help getting aloft.  For the Mace, this assist came from a solid rocket booster that appears to be hanging from under its tail.  When this had done its job, the vehicle was flying on its own and its internal turbojet took over.  The 13.6 meter (44.5 ft.) long Mace had a working range of 2300 km (1400 mi), and versions of it remained in active duty until 1969.

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