Specialty Press' US Cruise Missiles


Bill Yenne


Specialty Press




Scott Van Aken

Notes: 204 pages, 9x9 inches, Softcover, 339 illustrations,
ISBN: 978-1-58007-256-4

It is always a delight to get a new book from Specialty Press. They seem to hit a home run with every title they release and this one on American Cruise Missiles is not exception. They have tackled an interesting subject and one that goes back quite a bit farther than most of us realize.

In fact, it goes back to 1917 when the Sperry (of autopilot fame) and Curtis developed their flying bomb. This radio controlled aircraft was nearing deployment when the war ended so it was never used and in general, interest in flying bombs in the US went with it. To be sure, there were still target drones, but we have to then move to Germany and the use of the first operational cruise missile, the V-1, to continue the story. This vehicle was reverse engineered by Republic-Ford and hundreds were were produced. Even before that the idea of remote control flying bombs was bandied about and developed with minimal use.

However, the seeds had been planted and the concept developed into intermediate and intercontinental range aircraft using current jet engines, upgraded guidance, and more powerful warheads. These craft were quite large in order to carry sufficient fuel and the rather bulky electronics of the day. Several of these systems reached operational capability, albeit for a relatively short period of time as technology improved. For this we have the Matador, Mace, and Snark for ground based systems and the Regulus for use at sea.

Still, the legacy of the V-1 was never far behind and it was with air launched cruise missiles that we saw the greatest advances. The first successful one was the Hound Dog, which operated for some ten years. Other systems were developed yet never deployed such as the Skybolt and it was the AGM-86 ACLM that was the next step. This was all surpassed by the Tomahawk, which could be launched from the ground, aircraft, or at sea that saw the greatest operational use. In fact, a goodly portion of the book is devoted to the development and a rather bewildering number of variants of this missile. Of course, weapons development moves on and the next generation of missile is currently under development.

The author had provided us with a fascinating look at this weapons system, providing us with a full history not only of the overall subject, but of each of the aircraft/missiles. This includes types that saw limited use, or did not pass out of the prototype stage. Heavily illustrated with some great photos and charts, this is THE book to have on the subject. It is a book that I can quite easily provide my highest recommendation. I know you will not be disappointed.

October 2018

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