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Posted 7/8/2009 Printable Fact Sheet
Martin TM-61A Matador
DAYTON, Ohio -- Martin TM-61A Matador missile in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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The Matador was a surface-to-surface tactical missile designed to carry a conventional or nuclear warhead. Originally designated as the B-61, the USAF's first "pilotless bomber," it was similar in concept to the German V-1 (Buzz Bomb) of World War II. The Matador was launched by a booster rocket from a mobile 40-foot trailer and was controlled electronically from the ground during flight. Immediately after launch, the booster rocket fell away and the missile continued on course to its target, powered by its jet engine.

Development of the Matador began in August 1945, and the XB-61 was first launched on Jan. 19, 1949. Operational TM-61s, which later followed, were the first tactical guided missiles in the USAF inventory. The first Pilotless Bomber Squadron (Light) was organized in October 1951 for test and training purposes, and in March 1954 the first Matador unit was deployed overseas to bolster NATO forces in West Germany. TM-61 units also were sent to Korea and Taiwan. Martin delivered the 1,000th Matador in mid-1957, but in 1959 a phase-out of the Matador began in favor of a more advanced version, the Martin Mace.

The museum has a Martin TM-61A Matador on display in the Cold War Gallery.

Type Number built/
B-61 1,000+ Became TM-61 (Tactical Missile)

Armament: Conventional or nuclear warhead
Engine: Allison J33 of 4,600 lbs. thrust; Aerojet solid-propellant booster rocket of 57,000 lbs. thrust
Max. speed: 600 mph / 521 knots in level flight; supersonic during final dive
Range: 690 statute miles / 600 nautical miles
Service ceiling: 44,000 ft.
Span: 27 ft. 11 in.
Length: 39 ft. 8 in.
Height: 9 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 13,593 lbs. at launch
Serial numbers (known TM-61C): 55-426 to 55-609 (except 55-543); 56-1793 to 56-1997

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