This is number 10 in the 1959 series of trading cards National Biscuit Company gave away in boxes of cereal. However, I have another number 10 that is either older or you know...younger. I have no idea.
Click on either image to see it larger.
Origins and Development of the BOMARC Missile
In 1946, Boeing started to study surface-to-air guided missiles under the United States Army Air Forces project MX-606. By 1950, Boeing had launched more than 100 test rockets in various configurations, all under the designator XSAM-A-1 GAPA (Ground-to-Air Pilotless Aircraft). Because these tests were very promising, Boeing received a USAF contract in 1949 to develop a pilotless interceptor (a term then used by the USAF for air-defense guided missiles) under project MX-1599. The MX-1599 missile was to be a ramjet-powered, nuclear-armed long-range surface-to-air missile to defend the Continental United States from high-flying bombers. The Michigan Aerospace Research Center (MARC) was added to the project soon afterward, and this gave the new missile its name Bomarc (for Boeing and MARC). In 1951, the USAF decided to emphasize its point of view that missiles were nothing else than pilotless aircraft by assigning aircraft designators to its missile projects, and anti-aircraft missiles received F-for-Fighter designations. The Bomarc became the F-99.
Test flights of XF-99 test vehicles began in September 1952 and continued through early 1955. The XF-99 tested only the liquid-fueled booster rocket, which would accelerate the missile to ramjet ignition speed. In February 1955, tests of the XF-99A propulsion test vehicles began. These included live ramjets, but still had no guidance system or warhead. The designation YF-99A had been reserved for the operational test vehicles. In August 1955, the USAF discontinued the use of aircraft-like type designators for missiles, and the XF-99A and YF-99A became XIM-99A and YIM-99A, respectively. Originally the USAF had allocated the designation IM-69, but this was changed (possibly at Boeing's request to keep number 99) to IM-99 in October 1955. In October 1957, the first YIM-99A production-representative prototype flew with full guidance, and succeeded to pass the target within destructive range. In late 1957, Boeing received the production contract for the IM-99A Bomarc A interceptor missile, and in September 1959, the first IM-99A squadron became operational.
The IM-99A had an operational radius of 200 miles (~320 km) and was designed to fly at Mach 2.5–2.8 at a cruising altitude of 60,000 feet (18.3 km). It was 46.6 ft (14.2 m) long and weighed 15,500 lb (7,020 kg). Its armament was either a 1,000 pound (455 kg) conventional warhead or a W40 nuclear warhead (7–10 kiloton yield). A liquid fuelled rocket engine boosted the Bomarc to Mach 2, when its Marquardt RJ43-MA-3 ramjet engines, fueled by 80-octane gasoline, would take over for the remainder of the flight.
Operational Service and Retirement
Within a year of becoming operational, a Bomarc-A with a nuclear warhead caught fire at McGuire AFB on 7 June 1960 following the explosive rupture of its onboard helium tank. While the missile's explosives didn't detonate, the heat melted the warhead, releasing plutonium which the fire crews then spread around. The Air Force and the Atomic Energy Commission cleaned up the site and covered it with concrete; fortunately, this was the only major incident involving the weapons system. The site remained in operation for several years following the fire, but after its closure in 1972, the accident resulted in that area remaining off limits to the present day, primarily due to low levels of plutonium contamination. In 2002, the concrete at the site was removed and transported to Lakehurst Naval Air Station for railheading to a site for proper disposal.
In 1962 the Air Force started using modified A-models as drones; following the October 1962 tri-service redesignation of aircraft and weapons systems they became CQM-10As. Otherwise the air defense missile squadrons maintained alert while making regular trips to Santa Rosa Island for training and firing practice. After the inactivation of the 4751st ADW(M) on 1 July 1962 and transfer of Hurlburt to Tactical Air Command for air commando operations the 4751st Air Defense Squadron (Missile) remained at Hurlburt and Santa Rosa Island for training purposes.
In 1964, the liquid-fueled Bomarc-A sites and squadrons began to be deactivated. The sites at Dow and Suffolk County closed first. The remainder soldiered on for several more years while the government started dismantling the air defense missile network. Niagara Falls was the first BOMARC B installation to close, in December 1969; the others remained on alert through 1972. In April 1972, the last Bomarc B in USAF service was retired at McGuire and the 46th ADMS inactivated.
The Bomarc, designed to intercept relatively slow manned bombers, had become a useless asset in the era of the intercontinental ballistic missile. The remaining Bomarc missiles were used by all armed services as high-speed target drones for tests of other air-defense missiles. The Bomarc A and Bomarc B targets were designated as CQM-10A and CQM-10B, respectively.
Notably, due to the accident the McGuire complex has never been sold or converted to other uses and remains in Air Force ownership, making it the most intact site of the eight in the United States. It has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Sites. Although a number of IM-99/CIM-10 Bomarcs have been placed on public display, concerns about the possible environmental hazards of the thoriated magnesium structure of the airframe have resulted in several being removed from public view.To see other cards in this trading card series click on the "Defenders of America" label below the post.
Next time...USAF TM-61 Matador