posted on Jun, 22 2008 @ 05:47 AM
Looking at the subject from a British perspective, just so that aspect is covered, guided weapons in general have quite a surprisingly long history.
The first guided weapon deployed by the UK was the wire guided torpedo developed by Louis Brennan in the 1890's and deployed from 1900 for coastal
The first aerial guided weapon was effectively a SAM and this was developed in 1916 by Preofessor A.M Low, it consisted of a biplane packed with
explosives which was flown by radio control up a searchlight beam to explode on contact with the Zeppelins then bombing London. At the same time
unguided rockets, which we associate with Hawker Typhoons in WW2 and the like, were being fired from the wing struts of Spads, Nieuports and Camels of
Moving into the 1930's there was a project euphemistacally called the 'Long Range Gun with Lynx engine' or Larynx for short which was an anti
shipping guided missile, or cruise missile if you will, which was a small unmanned monoplane with cruciform tail packed with explosives (picture a
tubbier bodied Tomahawk with a radial engine on the front).
At this time Britain was also rapidly developing radar and the Chain Home system which played such a vital role in the Battle of Britain. A variant of
the Larynx design was also proposed with equipment that would allow it to home in on the emitters of such equipment if it was found to be in use by
the enemy, almost certainly the worlds first proposal for an ARM.
The first proposal for a radar guided SAM was made by the Air Defence Research and Development Establishment in 1941, pretty much the same time as
Germany also started thinking along those lines, there were quite a lot of SAM and ASM type proposals that followed on from here but leaping forward
to the first AAM, skipping over proposals like Artemis and Air Spaniel that were to be launched from Beaufighters on night interceptions and also date
from early 1941, Little Ben is worthy of consideration, developed from 1944 this was the missile that (renamed Long Shot) performed the first beam
guided supersonic flight in 1951 and was used for guidance research for many years afterwards.
The first British guided AAM to be deployed operationally by the RAF was the Fairey Fireflash and it was first deployed on the Swift F.7's flown by
the No 1 Guided Weapons development Squadron in 1957.
This weapon never became standard issue however as this honour went to the De Havilland Firestreak which was issued to the Gloster Javelin squadrons a
couple of years later.
Despite Britain being at the forefront of guided weapons development money was always the overrriding issue and this led to us being quite late in
actually deploying the fruits of all those years of research. An interesting report I read several years ago however was a bit of a surprise to me as
it detailed how the DH Firestreak and later red top were both greatly superior to the US AIM 9 sidewinder in accuracy and reliability, which I did not
expect. This of course refers to the variant of the AIM 9 which was current with those missiles, not the much developed later models.
For the first AAM launches, I have an image in my mind of a guided missile launched from the Fw 190, but I would have to get my research sorted before
I commented on that one.