Seaslug: some thoughts on tactical employment.
This paper was written by a serving RN officer who started off by making it clear it wasn't a reflection of official policy but was his own opinion ‐he even made the point that it was intended to be controversial!
He assumed a missile escort ship armed with four 3-barrelled launchers, as the Project 502 Team's initial estimates showed a need to fire a three-missile salvo at each target to secure an 80% chance of hitting it; this implies a 41½% SSKP.
He suggested several requirements for the missile:
Engageable targets: A Lincoln/Superfortress at 400kts, or a single-engined fighter bomber at 600kts.
Missile performance: Maximum altitude at least 55,000 feet. Minimum altitude 'as low as possible'. Range 30,000 yards, minimum range 5,000 yards.
Lethality: At least 80% before the target is within 10,000 yards or at an elevation of 45°, for a salvo of three missiles.
Ship motion: Must be usable up to Beaufort wind scale 8 and sea state 6-7.
Environment: 30 ‐ 120°F (-1 ‐ 44°C)
Missile size: Reduction of length at the expense of diameter is required.
Guidance: The type 901 radar.
Other: A maximum of 6 seconds to switch target, and to be able to engage one target every 40 seconds.
The Project 502 Team were evidently being pessimistic with regard to the ability of Seaslug to intercept a target; the author recognised the problem of gathering a multi missile salvo against the need to fire a salvo of missiles to secure a hit. His thoughts were far from unreasonable, especially when you consider that this document was published in March 1949!
Incidentally this pessimistic estimate of accuracy is the reason that although the trials ship (HMS Girdleness) had a triple‐barrel launcher, all of the County class destroyers had a double‐barrel launcher.
This page copyright SR Jenkins January 2014; reproduction without prior approval is prohibited.
Page last updated: 18th November 2017.
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