MIM-14 Nike-Hercules: Wikis


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MIM-14 Nike-Hercules
Nike Missle Being Raised On Launcher (1961883).jpg
Nike-Hercules Missile
Type Surface-to-air missile
Production history
Manufacturer Western Electric, Bell Laboratories, Douglas Aircraft Company
Weight 29,000 pounds (13,000 kg)
Length 41 feet (12 m) overall
26 feet 10 inches (8.18 m) second stage
Diameter booster 31.5 inches (800 mm)
second stage 21 inches (530 mm)

Warhead initially W7 (2.5 or 28 KT)[1] later W31 nuclear 2 kt (M-97) or 20 kt (M-22)[2] or T-45 HE warhead weighing 1,106 pounds (502 kg) and containing 600 pounds (270 kg) of HBX-6 M17 blast-fragmentation

Engine Booster: Hercules M42 solid-fueled rocket cluster (4x M5E1 Nike boosters) 978 kN (220000 lb)
Sustainer: Thiokol M30 solid-fueled rocket 44.4 kN (10000 lb)
Wingspan 11 feet 6 inches (3.51 m) booster
6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) second stage
90 miles (140 km)
Flight ceiling 150,000 feet (46,000 m)
Speed >Mach 3.65 (ca. 2750 mph or 4,470 km/h)

Nike-Hercules Missile, designation MIM-14 (initially SAM-N-25), was a solid fuel propelled surface-to-air missile, used by US and NATO armed forces for high- and medium-altitude air defense. It could also be employed in a surface-to-surface role.


Development and deployment

The Nike-Hercules system, a follow-up to the Nike-Ajax missile, was developed during the Cold War to destroy enemy bombers and enemy bomber formations, as well as serve as an anti-ballistic missile system. Western Electric, Bell Laboratories, and Douglas Aircraft Company were chief contractors for the system. Nuclear-armed Nike Hercules missiles were deployed in Greece, Italy, and Turkey, and with Belgian, Dutch, and U.S. forces in West Germany.[3] Conventionally-armed Nike Hercules missiles also served in Germany, Denmark, Japan, Norway, and Taiwan.[4] The first deployments in Europe began in 1959[5] and the last nuclear-armed Nike Hercules missiles in Europe were deactivated in 1988.[6] The Nike-Hercules missile systems sold to Japan (Nike J) were subsequently upgraded the internal guidance systems by replacing the original vacuum tube systems with transistorized ones.


The Nike Hercules could carry either a nuclear warhead or a conventional high explosive warhead (T-45 fragmentation type). Initially the nuclear-armed version carried the W-7 Mod 2E nuclear warhead, with yields of 2.5 or 28 KT. Beginning in FY 1961 the older warheads were replaced by W-31 Mod 0 warheads, with yields of 2 KT (Y1) or 30 KT (Y2).[7] The last versions carried the W31 Mod 2 warhead, with yields of 2 or 20 KT.[8] The missile was 41 feet 6 inches (12.65 m) long with a wingspan of 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m). 145 missile batteries were deployed during the cold war. The missile had a range of about 77 miles (124 km). Because of the missile's effectiveness against certain ICBMs, it was made a part of the SALT I treaty.


Nike Hercules guidance system
IFC radars. Left: acquisition radar (LOPAR), three spherical antennae: tracking radars. Just behind the right two tracking radars the two vans for housing computer and tracking equipment and the operating consoles for the operators (crew of 9).

The Nike Hercules was a groundstation guided missile. The guidance and control area (Integrated Fire Control, IFC) was located a distance (about 1 mile) from the area from where the missile was launched (Launching Area, LA). The IFC had an acquisition radar to detect (enemy) aircraft. After detecting and identifying a hostile aircraft this aircraft was followed or tracked in elevation, azimuth and range by a Target Tracking Radar (TTR). An analog (later digital) computer computed a point in the sky where the missile and target should meet (intercept point). After the missile was launched by the Battery Control Officer (BCO) a Missile Tracking Radar (MTR) followed the missile and the computer constantly updated the intercept point even if the hostile aircraft performed evasive actions. Steering corrections were sent to the missile by the MTR. When the missile neared the intercept point a command signal was sent to the missile to explode. To measure the range to the target under jamming conditions the IFC also was equipped with a Target Ranging Radar (TRR).

Soviet counterpart

The Nike Hercules and Nike Ajax was comparable to the Soviet SA-2 Guideline medium range missile, but few were fired in combat. The Soviet missile saw considerable use during the Vietnam War against US aircraft. Those missiles were quite effective against aircraft flying at moderate or high altitudes, and resulted in elaborate tactics to either fly under the effective minimum altitude, or use powerful and sophisticated jamming pods or dedicated electronic warfare aircraft.


When it became apparent that the greatest threat to US National defense was from missiles instead of bombers, most Nike-Hercules units were deactivated. All CONUS Nike-Hercules batteries, with the exception of the ones in Florida and Alaska, were deactivated by April 1974. The remaining units were deactivated during the spring of 1979. Dismantling of the sites in Florida - Alpha Battery in Everglades National Park, Bravo Battery in Key Largo, Charlie Battery in Carol City and Delta Battery, located on Krome Avenue on the outskirts of Miami - started in June 1979 and was completed by early fall of that year. The buildings that once housed Delta Battery became the original structures used for the Krome Avenue Detention Facility, a federal facility used primarily to hold illegal immigrants awaiting immigration hearings. In Alaska, Site Point was converted into a ski chalet for Kincaid Park.

The US Army continued to use Nike-Hercules as a front-line air defense weapon in Europe until 1983, when Patriot missile batteries were deployed. NATO units from West Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Greece and Turkey continued to use the Nike-Hercules for high-altitude air defense until the late 1980s. With the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the units were deactivated.


The Patriot missile replaced the Nike-Hercules Missile in the high- and medium-altitude air defense roles. Its advantage over the Nike-Hercules system was its mobility. While a Nike-Hercules site could take days to be established, Patriot sites can be established in hours. Patriot also uses a more advanced phased-array radar system and has better missile target tracking.


In 2006, a missile that was being transported in South Korea burned in a tunnel. Many former Nike sites in the USA and abroad still exist though only a few have been preserved. One, SF-88L north of the Golden Gate, is being maintained as a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, complete with an operating underground missile shelter, Cold War period-uniformed staff, RADAR guidance systems, and period vehicles and equipment.

Below is a list of museums which have a Nike-Hercules missile in their collection:



See also


  1. ^ Department of the Army, Army Missiles Handbook January 1960 (formerly SECRET) p.52 Missiles files, U.S. Army Center of Military History.
  2. ^ Thomas B. Cochran, William M. Arkin, and Milton Hoenig, Nuclear Weapons Databook Volume I: U.S. Nuclear Forces and Capabilities (Cambridge: Ballinger, 1987) p.45.
  3. ^ Thomas B. Cochran, William M. Arkin, and Milton M. Hoenig, Nuclear Weapons Databook Volume I: U.S. Nuclear Forces and Capabilities (Cambridge: Ballinger, 1984) p.287; The New York Times December 23, 1959, p.50; Irving Heymont, "The NATO Nuclear Bilateral Forces" Orbis 94:4 Winter 1966, pp.1025-1041; George S. Harris, The Troubled Alliance: Turkish-American Problems in Historical Perspective 1945-1971 (Washington: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1972), p.153.
  4. ^ Mary Cagle, History of the Nike Hercules Weapon System (formerly CONFIDENTIAL) Historical Monograph #AMC 75M (Redstone Arsenal: U.S. Army Missile Command, 1973) p.155; Jane's Weapon Systems 1986-87 p.186.
  5. ^ The New York Times April 9, 1959, p.7 and December 23, 1959, p.50.
  6. ^ The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists October 1988, p.55
  7. ^ Department of the Army, Army Missiles Handbook January 1960 (formerly SECRET) p.52 Missiles files, U.S. Army Center of Military History.
  8. ^ Thomas B. Cochran, William M. Arkin, and Milton Hoenig, Nuclear Weapons Databook Volume I: U.S. Nuclear Forces and Capabilities (Cambridge: Ballinger, 1987) p.45.

External links



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