As the U.S. Air Force's first pilotless bomber, the Matador used a concept similar to the German V-1 "buzz bomb" of World War II. Originally designated the B-61, the TM-61A surface-to-surface tactical missile carried either a conventional or nuclear warhead. Launched from a mobile 40-foot trailer by a booster rocket that fell away, the Matador continued toward its target powered by a jet engine. Unlike the V-1, however, the Matador was controlled electronically from the ground during flight.
Development of the Matador began in August 1945, and its first launch took place in January 1949. Operational TM-61s became the first tactical guided missiles in the USAF inventory. For test and training purposes, the USAF organized the first Pilotless Bomber Squadron (Light) in October 1951, and the first TM-61 unit deployed overseas to bolster NATO forces in West Germany in March 1954. Matador units also deployed 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.
Conventional or nuclear warhead
Allison J33 of 4,600 lbs. thrust; Aerojet solid-propellant booster rocket of 57,000 lbs. thrust
600 mph in level flight; supersonic during final dive
27 ft. 11 in.
39 ft. 8 in.
9 ft. 8 in.
13,593 lbs. at launch
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