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MGM-5 Corporal: Wikis


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Corporal Field Artillery Missile

The MGM-5 Corporal missile was the first Guided Weapon authorised by the US to carry a nuclear warhead. A surface-to-surface guided missile, the Corporal could deliver either a nuclear fission or high-explosive warhead up to a range of 75 nautical miles (139 km).

Developed by the United States Army in partnership with Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, Gilfillan Brothers Inc, Douglas Aircraft Company and Caltech’s pioneering Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Corporal was designed as a tactical nuclear missile for use in the event of Cold War hostilities in Eastern Europe. The first U.S. Army Corporal battalion was deployed in Europe in 1955. Six U.S. battalions were deployed and remained in the field until 1964, when the system was replaced by the solid-fueled MGM-29 Sergeant missile system.


Design and development

The Corporal was first developed in White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico drawing on the technical experience and expertise that the Americans acquired from the German V-2 rocket programme after the Second World War. After being sold to Britain in 1954, it became the first US guided missile destined for service in a foreign country to be used by a foreign power. Subsequent test-firing by British and German Corporal battalions took place in the Scottish island of South Uist in 1959, where a special Royal Artillery 'Rocket Range' was built in 1957-58.

For what was the front line of nuclear defense, the Corporal missile was notoriously unreliable and inaccurate. It used a liquid-fueled rocket burning red fuming nitric acid and hydrazine; this required elaborate and time-consuming preparation immediately before launch, making its tactical responsiveness questionable. For guidance, it employed commands sent through a reworked Word War II-era radar system. Until 1955, its in-flight accuracy was less than 50 per cent, with only modest improvements thereafter. The first year of British test firings in 1959 yielded a success rate of only 46%, a dismal record which raised questions among military planners of its operational effectiveness in Germany.

The Corporal missile was used as a model for a child's toy. A version of the Corporal was made as a die-cast toy by manufacturers such as Corgi and Dinky. The Corgi Corporal - marketed to children as 'the rocket you can launch' - was timed to coincide with the British test firing in 1959.


 United Kingdom
 United States

See also


  • Army Ballistic Missile Agency (1961) Development of the Corporal: the embryo of the army missile program Vol 1. ABMA unclassified report, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
  • MacDonald, F (2006) 'Geopolitics and 'the Vision Thing': regarding Britain and America's first nuclear missile', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 31, 53-71. available for download [1],

External links



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