First Tartar Missile Kill 1958

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USS Albany (CG 10) test-fires Talos and Tartar surface-to-air missiles. (Photo US Navy)

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 first series Tartar missile, RIM-24A, fired from the USS Norton Sound (Photo: Hank Morris, USS Norton Sound).

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:

Below is an old home movie of a Tartar missile shoot off of USS Cochrane DDG-21, a Charles Adams class destroyer.

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4 thoughts on “First Tartar Missile Kill 1958

  1. There is a caption error on the picture. The ALBANY and her two sisters had Talos and Tartar, not Terrier and Tartar.

  2. Supersonic test vehicles (STV) were designed to test steering and control during supersonic flight. These were more advanced two stage rocket powered test vehicles that incorporated the beamriding guidance systems developed with the smaller subsonic beamrider test vehicles. The STV-3 test vehicle was the most complex of the solid rocket powered vehicles. It was launched by a solid rocket booster and had a small solid rocket sustainer to propel it at supersonic speeds to a range of about ten miles.

    In 1948 the STV-3 was recognized as having potential as a short range antiaircraft missile that would meet most of the initial Bumblebee goals if the telemetry section was replaced with a warhead. This missile could be operational before Talos and would give the fleet greater anti aircraft capability than existing guns. A decision was made to proceed with a separate program to develop a prototype missile and it was given the name “Terrier.” This was the progenitor of the modern Standard missile used with the current Aegis missile system.

    • I was at China Lake 1961-62. We could kill a drone any week day. We were tryimg to kill another rocket. I was on the team that took an old rocket out on the range and fired it. Then the men with the test TARTAR shot at it. Missed it by five minutes. A month later we did it again, this time we missed the target rocket by one minute. That’s a big improvement. By the next test I had been transfered to Seal Beach CA. Because of the very loud rockets, I have very nice Government hearing aids. Who Knew.
      Mike Tillotson, Michigan

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