Sparrow missile


#1

I was fascinated by this, especially its construction. I was told that this is the nose cone / radar windshield to a old model Sparrow Missile. I have had in for 10 years and the guy I purchased it from had if for many years. I am not sure if it came from a aircraft fired missile or a ship fired system? I know Sparrow Missiles are fired from ships and have folding fins for storage inside their firing pods. To me the real interesting thing about it is that it is made entirely from porcelain. I tried taking a photo of it in the dark with a flashlight inside to show how it is semi transparent when illuminated from with-in. I have another one that looks almost exactly like it except it is made from metal and is painted blue. SLICK RICK, you may have fired these in your missile days.

Pic showing the inside and wall thickness. It is pretty heavy! The metal one is much lighter.

Photo In The Dark - Trying to show how it is semi-transparent / opaque by putting a Mag-Light inside.


#2

Not sure what it is made out of…but my Dad worked at Corning Glass when I was very young, and I remember being told that Corelle was developed originally for missile nose cones…

I do know Corelle dishes are near impossible to break!

I wonder if it is made from Corelle…

ETA I would guess the blue painted one is from a practice round, or a dummy…if it were a dummy then it would make sense it being made of metal, doesn’t need to be radar transparent…


#3

No such luck. Only got to play with the Terrier types. RIM67s mostly. Although I did attend and passed a course in Emergency Destruct procedures for shipboard “special” weapons and systems, and got some hands on experience with everything we had at that time, along with some furrin’ warheads. I never could figure out how those were acquired. And didn’t ask. It wasn’t considered polite. The Sparrow system, as I recall, was mostly outfitted on carriers( I was on a cruiser and a destroyer), but I wouldn’t swear to that limitation. The nose cone, or TDD (Target Detection Device) of the Terrier was fiberglass of some sort. The metal tip had an orifice that allowed for a pitot tube function. The unit was not translucent. I still have my official Training manual. While not as in-depth as your airplane books, it has a number of great drawings and such of the missile and shipboard systems. I hereby offer to post some examples, free of charge, if anyone is interested. This is really pushing the envelope, but it is sorta kinda ammo. Sadly, I was unable to obtain headstamp pics of the Terrier missile, which I’m sure would then pass “inspection”. Heh.


#4

Interesting stuff. I always thought it was ceramic or porclin? It is very heavy, that’s for sure! Thier are no markings on it so I have no clue who made it, but would not be surprised if Cornell did manufacture it? It make sence that the metal one could be from a practice missile as I am sure this thing cost the tax payers some big bucks.

Rick, I think I saw a photo of a carrier with a 4 pack of these, each inside thier coffins, ready to fire. I think they called these mods, “SEA SPARROWS”. Missiles are ammo, so I would love to see some photos/drawings detailing some of the types you trained with, either in this thread or a new one. I personaly, love the BIG ORDNANCE stuff.

Jason


#5

APFSDS–I don’t know anything about ship board use of Sparrow’s, but I loaded hundreds of them on F-4 Phantom jets in Viet Nam. In the U.S. Air Force, they are called AIM-7 Sparrow missles (AIM = Air Intercept Missle) and were used mostly for shooting down Migs. As for the Radar Nose Cone, I beleive they wer fiberglass. I never saw a “dummy” Aim-7, just tactical ones which were always ivory white color. The F-4 carried 4 of them in semi-concealed missle launchers on the bottom of the plane. The fins did not fold out, but were snapped into place during loading operations.


#6

Too Cool! Thanks Ron! I think most of them are aircraft mounted. I had no clue they back as far a Vietnam. I am 99.999% sure this ceramic cone was from some mod of AIM-Sparrow,perhaps after Nam. I always wondered what AIM stood for, thanks again Ron. I was born in 1968 towards the end of Vietnam, but thank and appreciate you and all the Vietnam vets! ALL HEROES, if you ask me. I am happy they finally gave out the Medal Of Honor last week after so long.

Anyhow, the nose cone is really interesting. I guess its design allows the radar to penetrate it, that is way it is porcelain? The F-4’s are spectacular planes, it must have been awesome working with them, or under them. I just saw a cool special featuring them on DOG FIGHTS, shooting Sparrows at Migs over Vietnam.


#7

You were born the year I went to Viet Nam. I was there from Aug. 1968 to Aug. 1969. The F-4, at the time was the best plane in the U.S. inventory. I was a weapons specialist on F-4C, D, and E models as well as F-100, F-105, F-5, F-111, B-66 and occasionally B-52’s. The E model was the first one with the M61 mounted internally. The C & D models used external pods. They could carry 5 pods at one time, but usually used just one on the centerline station. Each pod carried 768 rounds, so at 100 rounds per second it did not take long to fire out. We later put limiter switchs on them so no matter how long the pilot held the trigger down all he got was 100 rounds. Which was fine. It took a heck of a good pilot to stay on target for more that a second or two anyway. One fireing pass could put 1 HE round every square foot in an area the side of a football field. It must have been hell to be on the receiving end.


#8

Ron, You bring back old memories. I was a Capt maint officer in 432nd TFW at Udorne AB Thailand in 69/70 pushing F-4Ds and RF-4Cs off the ramp. The joke in those days is that the Sparrows flew so many hours captive carry (we rotated them throught the shops for checks after a couple of weeks loaded as I remember) that their reliability was terrible. The pilots would fire a couple of Sparrows at a Mig just to scare him and get him to turn so they could get close enough to take him out with a Sidewinder! I don’t know of a single Sparrow kill of a Mig. Later, as a Lt Col, I was in the acquisition program office developing the AMRAAM AIM-120 missle that replaced the Sparrow. That is where I was exposed to a lot of the combat experience on the Sparrow. the Sparrow was a semi-active radar missile and was receive only basically. The aircraft radar had to stay locked on the target and the missile homed in on the return from the aircraft radar. That meant that after firing, the F-4 or whatever had to continue to bore in toward the enemy fighter until the AIM-7 hit and you could only fire one at a time. If the enemy had the Russian equilivant if the AIM-9 Sidewinder, your target or his wingman had time to fire that missle which was faster than the AIM-7, and you could actually be shot down before your missile arrives, or as a minimum as you turned away because his missile, like the AIM-9 was infra red and needed no guidence form the launch aircraft. The AIM-120 had an active radar guidence package. You could fire 4, at 4 seperate targets and then turn away without putting yourself at significant risk. The AMRAAM entered the inventory after Desert Storm, but has a 100% shootdown record in combat the last time I checked—that is for shots in the envelope. Pilots still get excited and fire when the missile has no idea where the target is!!!

A long time ago in a place far, far away. Thanks for stirring up the old gray cells.

Lew


#9

As I recall (Lew) you were supervising the C130 Magic Dragon or Spectre gunships out of Thailand as well. I have never seen a good answer as to why 105 Howitzer shells show up marked for Air Force use only if they are the same as the standard Army artillery rounds.


#10

This sailor’s guess is that while the USAF 105mm round for the AC-130 is derived from the Army round, the USAF version used a specific non-variable powder charge. The Army usually had seven increments (small cloth bags) and depending on the desired range one or more increments could be removed to get the desired muzzle velocity and approximate range. THe projectile is a slip fit in the case, so this adjustment is made just before loading. (Last year some bozo neglected to pull a couple of increments from a round being fired for avalanche control purposes near here, and the projectile went over the top of the mountain and blew a good size crater in some homeowner’s back yard several miles away!) I believe the USAF round uses a more or less reduced charge to minimize the stress on the airframe (recoil and muzzle blast) and having a fixed instead of variable charge makes their fire control solution simpler. Maybe they also crimp the projectile so it will not slip out while trying to load it in the breech while the aircraft is in a steep bank. Just guesses, so corrections welcome.
Here is photo showing complete Army round with the seven increments and a sheet of flash reducer material to reduce flash during night firing. USAF may use point detonating fuze instead of the mechanical time fuze shown in this round.


#11

Boy, this thread is all over the munitions career field, and my time in the AF also. Exactly right: “AF” 105mm had to be crimped as it simplifies ammo handling up to and including stuffing into the downward pointing bore on the Spectre gunships. I was first with ACs at Korat in 75, as Thailand was winding down. The 16 SOW left there for Hurlburt Field in early 1976 I think.
Actually, the three alpha designation system doesn’t “stand for” anything, but amazing how convenient some things worked out: BDU–bomb dummy unit, BLU–bomb live unit, etc. But for example, try PGU for “projectile, gun unit”, when it is the whole cartridge, not just the projectile… BUT point of my answer is “RIM” is the code for a ship launched air intercept missile, so various models of the RIM-7 have served aboard ships for many years.


#12

[quote=“John S.”]This sailor’s guess is that while the USAF 105mm round for the AC-130 is derived from the Army round, the USAF version used a specific non-variable powder charge. The Army usually had seven increments (small cloth bags) and depending on the desired range one or more increments could be removed to get the desired muzzle velocity and approximate range. THe projectile is a slip fit in the case, so this adjustment is made just before loading. (Last year some bozo neglected to pull a couple of increments from a round being fired for avalanche control purposes near here, and the projectile went over the top of the mountain and blew a good size crater in some homeowner’s back yard several miles away!) I believe the USAF round uses a more or less reduced charge to minimize the stress on the airframe (recoil and muzzle blast) and having a fixed instead of variable charge makes their fire control solution simpler. Maybe they also crimp the projectile so it will not slip out while trying to load it in the breech while the aircraft is in a steep bank. Just guesses, so corrections welcome.
Here is photo showing complete Army round with the seven increments and a sheet of flash reducer material to reduce flash during night firing. [/quote]

NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT.

I asked this question many years ago when I saw my first USAF marked 105 (the one in the photo) and was informed by a fellow who was a cartridge collector (now of some note) who was an officer in the operation. I asked how the ammo differed from regular Army 105mms and was informed that they used the same ammo as the 105 Howitzer AND THAT THERE WAS NO DIFFERENCE. I have this in writing. Remember good old hard copy writing ?

I NEVER BELIEVED THAT but was surprised that accountable officers in the program didn’t know that there was a difference.

The problems associated with loading regular Army howitzer ammo on the aircraft seemed pretty obvious and not limited to the un-necessary extra weight.

I thought that the USAF may not have thought this all out before sending these birds over there but that was pretty hard to believe as well.

ANY THOUGHTS?


#13

[quote=“Taber10”]Boy, this thread is all over the munitions career field, and my time in the AF also. Exactly right: “AF” 105mm had to be crimped as it simplifies ammo handling up to and including stuffing into the downward pointing bore on the Spectre gunships. I was first with ACs at Korat in 75, as Thailand was winding down. The 16 SOW left there for Hurlburt Field in early 1976 I think.
Actually, the three alpha designation system doesn’t “stand for” anything, but amazing how convenient some things worked out: BDU–bomb dummy unit, BLU–bomb live unit, etc. But for example, try PGU for “projectile, gun unit”, when it is the whole cartridge, not just the projectile… BUT point of my answer is “RIM” is the code for a ship launched air intercept missile, so various models of the RIM-7 have served aboard ships for many years.[/quote]

That is one of the greatest virtues of these sites. You never know what you will learn. The problem is designing a search engine which can pick up references of interest in threads which don’t seem to relate.

My USAF case is in storage and I have not seen it in years. I do not remember it as having any unusual crimp. 105s don’t usually have a crimping groove in the projectile. Do you remember how they were crimped ? I did an article for the “JOURNAL” about these planes and ammo some time ago but that question missed me at the time.


#14

CSAEOD,
Maybe it is not “crimped” but “staked” or “sealed” although I can specifically remember the word “crimped” being used at an NNMSB meeting at Eglin AFB. I don’t remember exactly, but did I mention it was 1975? I often thought that the process was to keep the Special Ops guys from trying their own ideas out, i.e. “tampering” with the prop charges. That group is known for trying to get the most out of their equipment, munitions, personnel, etc.
BUT the round IS exactly like the Army round, with the exception of this added feature. The AF buys them from the Army, they are managed by Rock Island, SMCA, etc. I’m not sure what your collection round will reveal: I am “assuming” that it is inert, and the case would have been separated as part of that process. I remember “handling” expended cases, and don’t remember any evidence of the crimp, but again, long time ago, and that wasn’t a feature I would have been looking for! We had made souvenier mugs out of the case, a 20mm dummy and some pieces of brass rods. Don’t know where that is now, but I still have the chrome 20mm dummy off of my farewell plaque! Sorry for the digression!


#15

The USAF spent time and money to stencil these cases because the round is not the same as the Army howitzer load. These are special loads for the flying guns. My question is why an accountable officer would not know this. The Army versions and Air Force versions are not even packed the same.


#16

Well, I do not know


#17

Is that the only aircraft to utilize a 105 MM weapon? Just curious.

Anyhow, I took a side by side photo of the metal Sparrow Missile nose cone next to the ceramic / porcelain one. Note the inside photo shows that ot os threaded. The ceramic one is not threaded.


#18

[quote=“Pepper”]Well, I do not know


#19

[quote=“APFSDS”]Is that the only aircraft to utilize a 105 MM weapon? Just curious.

Anyhow, I took a side by side photo of the metal Sparrow Missile nose cone next to the ceramic / porcelain one. Note the inside photo shows that ot os threaded. The ceramic one is not threaded.

[/quote]

Does anyone know what the actual material used is on the white one…is it Corelle? Just curious…

Anyway, about the 105 being used on aircraft, the Germans did use some pretty large caliber AT weapons on aircraft in WWII…I believe the biggest they used is a modified 7,5cm PaK 40 gun on the Henschel HS-129 and on some modified JU-88’s IIRC, those were some real tank busters! Of course Rudel innovated the use of the two 3,7cm Bordkanone’s underslung on the wings of the JU-87…


#20

I was told that it was porcelain. It is definitely ceramic, porcelain or some other very similar material. I am sure if I dropped it, it would shatter into gobs of pieces.

Jason