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The Nike-Hercules is a two-stage surface-to-air missile. The first stage is a cluster of four Nike M5Ei rocket motors. The second stage is a single Thiokol solid propellant motor. The Hercules is 4l feet long, has a range of some 75 miles and can operate at altitudes of up to 150000 feet. The warhead is either conventional explosive or nuclear.
The Hercules is a second generation missile developed as a replacement for the Nike-Ajax. Although also a two-stage missile, the Ajax was considerably smaller than the Hercules. For example, the Ajax was powered by a single Nike booster in contrast to the Hercules' four motor cluster. Development of the Hercules was begun in 1953. The first batteries were trained on the missile in 1957 and deployment was begun a year later in 1958. The missile was fully deployed by 1984. Both Regular Army and Army National Guard batteries were equipped with the Hercules.
The Nike-Hercules primary mission was air defense of major urban centers against enemy bombers. Yet, even as the missile was entering service, it was apparent that a successful defense of the US would depend less upon our defense against enemy bombers than our defense against enemy missiles. While the Hercules was not designed to provide antimissile defense, tests of its anti-missile capabilities were begun as early as 1960. In that year, a Hercules launched from the Army's Red Canyon, NM range successfully destroyed a Corporal launched from the White Sands, NM range Later that year, the Hercules was tested against a more demanding challenger; itself. Again, the test was successful.
Anti-ballistic missile (AB M) defense dominated US air defense concerns in the 1960s. The missile designed as the successor to the Hercules, the Nike-X, later known as the Nike-Zeus, evolved into the Spartan missile. As heir-apparent to the Hercules, the Spartan confirmed ABM defense as the focus of US air defense efforts.
The first SALT negotiations, however, determined that the Safeguard missiles Spartan and Sprint would never be deployed as extensively as the Hercules. Later, the one Safeguard site which was built (at Grand Forks, ND) was dismantled. The Hercules suffered the same fate. By 1974, with the exception of four training batteries in Florida and Alaska, the Hercules ceased to be an operational missile in the US.
The Hercules continued to see service abroad. Indeed, the missile was fairly international. Countries of the NATO alliance, other European allies, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan all deployed the Hercules. As late as 1980, the missile was being manufactured still in Japan under license to Mitsubishi Industries.
Over the years, some 25,000 Nike-Hercules were manufactured. The most recent cost estimate, in this case from Japan, was US$3 .0 million per missile.
There were three major Nike-Hercules paint patterns.
Overall: Lusterless White, FS37875
Stenciling: Lusterless Black, F537038
Other Markings (see below): Brown, FS30117, Yellow, FS33538
Motors: Olive Drab, FS34087
Motor Stenciling: Yellow
Adapter, Fins, Aft Fairing: Lusterless White, FS37875
Adapter Stenciling: Lusterless Black, FS37038
Same as Pattern 1.
Overall: Olive Drab, F534087
Stenciling: Lusterless White, FS37875
Other Markings: Brown, FS3OI 17
Overall: Olive Drab, F534087
Stenciling: Lusterless Black, F534087
Other Markings: Brown, FS3OI 17, Yellow, FS33538
The majority of the missiles which I have photographs of are painted with the first paint pattern. The second pattern occurs regularly, but not as often as the first. The third pattern is rarely seen. From this, it appears that MIM-14A's would all be painted with the first pattern, MIM-14B's with the first, second and, occasionally, third pattern. MIM-14C's in the second and third patterns.
The markings on the Nike-Hercules are even more confusing than the paint patterns. The notes below refer to the 'Views" listed on the upper stage marking diagrams.
On the left side:
View A: The body is MIM-14A, MIM-14B or MIM-14C.
View C: The Lot Nos. are four digit numbers of the form "x-xxx".
View E & K: The Serial Number is a five digit number between 10001 and 20000.
View L: This square is painted Brown FS30117. It appears on the centerline between the four fins. However, it appears only on the second and third paint patterns.
These remarks also apply to the corresponding views on the right side.
In addition to these markings, there is also a four inch by four inch square or eight inch by four inch rectangle painted between stations 141.000 and 145.000 This mark is centered about the centerline and is painted between all four fins. it is colored either Brown, FS30117, or Yellow FS33538. It appears on all paint patterns.
The lower stage markings are simpler. First, there are two varieties of motor markings. The early for appears on the first paint pattern. The latter form appears on the second and third patterns.
Of the adapter markings, only the stenciled descriptive information appears on the first paint pattern; the brown square is omitted. The brown square and stenciling appear together on the second and third patterns. Note that the stenciling appears only once on the adapter, in line with the number I fin. The brown square appears at 900 intervals around the adapter.
(c) Stephen Maire
Hb_01a.jpg Detail drawing of Nike-Hercules booster markings and letterings provided by Mike Cantrell.
Hb_02a.jpg Detail drawing part II of Nike-Hercules booster markings and letterings provided by Mike Cantrell.
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