WAC Corporal Missile

WAC Corporal missile on launchpadThe Douglas WAC Corporal started as the "Baby WAC," only one-fifth the size of the final 21-foot WAC Corporal. Some sources indicate that the initials WAC stand for "Without Attitude Control," because the rocket had no stabilization and guidance system.

Designed and built in a cooperative effort between Douglas Aircraft and the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory, in association with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology, its technology would lead to the Viking rockets and the Titan ICBM.

Initial tests of the Baby WAC started in July 1945. Further basic airframe and control tests began Sept. 26, 1945, using the first 5-foot-long solid-fueled booster called "Tiny Tim," which could produce 50,000 pounds of thrust. After it left the launch tower, its three tailfins stabilized the missile in flight .The nose cone separated near the end of the flight and floated to the ground for instrument recovery, using a built-in parachute.

The improved 1946 WAC B had a lighter engine, a modified structure and a new telemetry system. Between December 1946 and mid-1947, eight WAC B rockets were launched, after which the WAC Corporal program was terminated. In February 1948, the formal designation RTV-G-1 was assigned to the WAC Corporal, even though the program had already been completed. In mid-1951, this designation was changed to RV-A-1.

On Jan. 24, 1949, the Corporal combined with a German V-2 rocket to form the "Bumper WAC," which flew a record 250-mile altitude at speed of 5,000 mph. This was the first rocket to be launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

First flight: Oct. 11, 1945
Model number: RTV-G-1
Length: 16 feet 2 inches; booster: 7 feet 11 inches
Diameter: 12 inches
Weight: 690 pounds; booster: 760 pounds
Speed: 3,000 feet per second
Range: 50 miles
Propulsion: Sustainer: Aerojet liquid-fueled rocket, 1,500 pounds for 47 seconds; booster: Tiny Tim solid-fueled rocket, 50,000 pounds for 0.6 seconds