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Project "Pye Wacket", officially known as the Lenticular Defense Missile (LDM) Program and by the project number WS-740A, was instituted in 1958 in response to a US Air Force request for a Defensive Anti-Missile System (DAMS)....
.... The specifications for the proposed DAMS called for an air-launched defensive missile, capable of engaging incoming missiles at relative speeds of up to Mach 7, surviving a rate of acceleration between 60 g to 250 g, and being able to undertake rapid terminal-phase guidance changes in any direction.
Following initial studies and wind-tunnel testing at the Air Proving Ground Center and Arnold Engineering Development Center,a radically unconventional design emerged that featured a lenticular, wedge-shaped airframe. The lenticular design was considered to have the best handling characteristics at extremely high angles of attack, and would theoretically possess ideal mass distribution, giving the missile outstanding terminal agility. In addition, the lenticular design allowed for omnidirectional launching from the carrying aircraft.
Following the feasibility studies, a contract for the development of the DAMS design was awarded to the Convair division of the General Dynamics Corporation in Pomona, California in 1959. Wind tunnel testing of several options for control of the missile resulted in an arrangement of six small rocket thrusters being selected for reaction control. The airframe of the missile was constructed of magnesium alloy, and main power would be provided by three Thiokol M58A2 solid-fuel rockets
originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: Drunkenparrot
There was a lot of thinking around then that a UFO shaped craft would be able to withstand much higher acceleration, and have a higher top speed. The truth turned out to be that the shape makes them much more unstable, and have stability issues.
originally posted by: RadioRobert
a reply to: Zaphod58
Natural stability was actually quite good, even at high Mach. It is managing control surfaces and making it change directions in a controlled manner that is a challenge. Might have been a touch to much to ask from the early 60's. I can dig up some supporting maths later.
The lenticular missile program evidently gained its odd name from a film that hit theaters in 1958 - "Bell, Book And Candle," starring James Stewart, Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacks and Elsa Lanchester. In the movie, Novak plays a sophisticated Manhattan witch who seduces a rather clueless Stewart into a whirlwind affair with the aid of a love spell cast by her "familiar," the supernaturally agile Siamese cat Pye Wacket. The film was based on a Broadway play by John Van Druten, who had reached into antiquity to select an authentic familiar name from Elizabethan witch lore.
h t t p s: // web.archive.org/web/20030401185923/h t t p: //www.ufx.org/rvs/pyewacket.htm
Matthew Hopkins, the so-called "Witch-finder General" who was active in Essex, England in the 1640s. Hopkins is said to have specialized in persecuting pet-owning old women, claiming that the animals were demon-posessed familiars. One of these, a cat named Pyewacket, was of particular interest to Hopkins. He allegedly commented that it was a name no mortal could have invented.