Taken on Jul. 19, 1957 the video in this post features a US Air Force (USAF) Northrop F-89J Scorpion conducting the first and only live test of a USAF Genie rocket with a nuclear warhead.
According to This Day In Aviation “On Friday morning, Jul. 19, 1957, a United States Air Force Northrop F-89J Scorpion interceptor, serial number 53-2547, flown by Captain Eric W. Hutchison, Pilot, and Captain Alfred C. Barbee, Radar Intercept Officer, launched a Genie MB-1 unguided rocket at an altitude of 18,500 feet (5,640 meters) over NTS Area 10.
“The rocket accelerated to Mach 3 and traveled 2.6 miles (4,250 meters) in 4.5 seconds when, at 07:00:04.6 a.m., Pacific Daylight Savings Time (14:00 UTC), its W-25 warhead was detonated by a signal from a ground station. The resulting explosive yield was 1.7 kilotons.”
Northrop designed the F-89 as an all-weather fighter-interceptor for the Air Defense Command. With the radar operator in the rear seat guiding the pilot, the F-89 could locate, intercept and destroy enemy aircraft by day or night under all types of weather conditions. The first F-89 made its initial flight in August 1948 and deliveries to the Air Force began in July 1950. Northrop produced a total of 1,050 F-89s for the Air Force.
Northrop converted 350 F-89Ds to J models, Air Defense Command’s first fighter-interceptor to carry nuclear armament. Powered by two Allison J35 engines, each capable of producing 7,200 pounds thrust with afterburner, the F-89J had a cruising speed of 465 mph.
The AIR-2A Genie is an air-to-air rocket with a nuclear warhead designed for use against formations of enemy bombers. It has no guidance system and is powered by a solid-propellant rocket motor. The AIR-2 (formerly known as the MB-1) was first test-launched in 1956 and became operational in January 1957.
The AIR-2A was carried primarily by F-89J, F-101B and F-106A interceptor aircraft. Thousands were built for the USAF before production ended in 1962; they remained in service until the mid-1980s. A training version of the Genie with an inert rocket motor and no nuclear warhead, known as the ATR-2, was also in service.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force
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