Aircraft - TM-61 Matador (U.S.A.)
The Matador was a surface to surface tactical
missile which could carry a conventional or
nuclear warhead. The missile age had
started on September 8, 1944 when the first
German V-2 missile hit London. While
several attempts at missiles were attempted by
the allies, and even a manned missile by he
Japanese, the TM-61 Matador was the first
operational guided missile in use by the U.S.
The concept was modeled after a German V-1 "buzz
bomb" of WWII. The Matador was launched by
a booster rocket from a trailer and was
controlled electronically from the ground during
flight. I used a booster rocket to gain
altitude, which fell away as the jet engine took
over. There were over one thousand
Matador's by 1957, but in 1959 they began to be
phased out in favor of the more advanced Martin
"In July 1949, the Matador and Firebird missiles
were canceled and other missile projects were
downgraded to component developments or studies,
or were canceled altogether. The Soviets'
first atomic bomb test in August shook U.S.
complacency but failed to generate progress in
the missile program. At the start of the
Korean War, the Air Force had only three
missiles in development:
Rascal, and Falcon."
"...in January 1952, when the Air Force ... had
to prevail upon Secretary of the Air Force
Finletter not to cancel the Matador short-range
(100-500 miles) missile, because the Army was
certain to claim it or the close air support
mission as a consequence."
-Source Ballistic Missiles in the United
States Air Force 1945-1960 by Jacob Neufeld,
Office of Air Force History 1990.
Specifications of theTM-61 Matador
Span: 27 ft. 11 in.
Length: 39 ft. 8
Height: 9 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 13,593 lbs.
Conventional or nuclear warhead
Engine: Allison J33
of 4,600 lbs. thrust; Aerojet solid-propellant
booster rocket of 57,000 lbs. thrust
Max. speed: 600
mph/521 knots in level flight; supersonic during
Range: 690 statute
miles/600 nautical miles
Source: U.S. Air Force