The SSM-N-8A Regulus was a ship- and submarine-launched, nuclear-armed
turbojet-powered cruise missile deployed by the United States Navy from
1955 to 1964. Its barrel-shaped fuselage resembled that of numerous fighter
aircraft designs of the era, but without a cockpit. When the missile was
ready for launch, it was fitted with two large booster rockets on the aft
end of the fuselage.
In October 1943, Chance Vought Aircraft Company signed a study
contract for a 300-mile range missile to carry a 4,000-pound
warhead. The project stalled for four years, however, until May
1947, when the United States Army Air Forces awarded Martin Aircraft
Company a contract for a turbojet powered subsonic missile, the Matador.
The Navy saw Matador as a threat to its role in guided missiles and, within
days, started a Navy development program for a missile that could be
launched from a submarine and use the same J33 engine as the Matador. In
August 1947, the specifications for the project, now named "Regulus," were
issued: Carry a 3,000-pound warhead, to a range of 500 nautical
miles, at Mach 0.85, with a circular error probable of 0.5%
of the range. At its extreme range the missile had to hit within 2.5
nautical miles of its target 50% of the time.
Photo 380s, USS Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum, Oct 2010