The first successful firing of a Tartar surface to air missile took place at the Naval Ordnance Test Station, China Lake, California on 19 August 1958 and it destroyed a target consisting of a F-6F drone. The birth of the Tartar, Terrier and Talos missiles began with Operation Bumblebee, a secret Navy program which took place on Topsail Island, North Carolina, during the postwar years 1946-1948.
The Tartar missile program was designed to provide a medium range SAM (surface to air missile) for smaller ships that could not handle the size requirements of the Terrier missile. After initial testing General Dynamics began producing the basic Tartar (RIM-24A). About 600 were completed for use on Adams class DDG’s. The Improved Tartar incorporating a change from a mechanical scan to an electronic scan antenna, and other improvements was built between 1961 to 1963 (approx. 1,800 were built). About 2400 RIM-24 missiles of all versions were produced. In U.S. Navy service, the Tartar was replaced by the RIM-66 Standard MR missile.
The following class ships were outfitted with the Tartar missile system:
- Charles F. Adams-class destroyer / Lütjens-class destroyer (Germany) / Perth-class destroyer (Australia)
- Albany-class cruiser
- Mitscher-class destroyer (guided missile modification)
- Forrest Sherman-class destroyer (guided missile modification)
- Brooke-class frigate
- California class cruiser
- Virginia class cruiser
- Kidd class destroyer
- T 47 class destroyer (guided missile modification)
- Cassard class frigate
Below is an old home movie of a Tartar missile shoot off of USS Cochrane DDG-21, a Charles Adams class destroyer.