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SAM-N-2 Lark

This Smithsonian Institution SAM-N-2 Lark missile is one of the various prototypes used to develop early United States guided missiles.
Type Surface-to-air missile
Place of origin United States
Production history
Manufacturer Fairchild Aircraft
Produced 1946-1950
Weight 920 kilograms (2,030 lb)
missile: 550 kilograms (1,210 lb)[1]
booster: 370 kilograms (820 lb)
Length 18 feet 6 inches (5.64 m)
missile: 13 feet 11 inches (4.24 m)
booster: 4 feet 7 inches (1.40 m)
Diameter 18 inches (46 cm)[1]
Warhead 100 pounds (45 kg) high explosive warhead
proximity fuze

Engine Stage1: solid-fueled rocket booster,
Stage2: liquid-fueled rocket
Wingspan 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m)[1]
55 kilometres (34 mi)
Speed Mach 0.85
initially radio command
USS Norton Sound (AVM-1)

The Lark project was a high-priority, solid-fuel boosted, liquid-fueled rocket surface-to-air missile developed by the United States Navy to meet the kamikaze threat.[2] After Lark configuration was established by the Bureau of Aeronautics in January 1945 Fairchild Aircraft was given a contract to produce 100 missiles in March 1945. Fairchild used radio command guidance with a semi-active radar homing AN/DPN-7. A backup contract for another 100 missiles was given to Convair in June 1945. Convair used beam riding guidance with AN/APN-23 active radar homing.[3] Neither version was successful. Six of the Convair airframes were given to Raytheon to explore use of velocity-gated continuous wave doppler radar for guided missile target seekers, while most other United States investigators used range-gated pulse radar. One of these Raytheon guidance systems in a Convair airframe scored the first successful United States surface-to-air missile interception of a flying target in January 1950.[2]

Early guided missile development

Lark missile launch at NOTS China Lake.

The Lark never proceeded past the prototype stage. Further Lark development was halted by the Bureau of Ordnance in late 1950 in favor of the RIM-2 Terrier being developed by Operation Bumblebee. A subsonic missile was of doubtful use against anticipated supersonic targets; but three successful Lark interceptions by the Raytheon guidance system[2] generated interest within the Army and Air Force. Modified Larks were used for guidance system development testing by all three services through the early 1950s.[3] The Bureau of Aeronautics Sparrow program began in 1950 using the Lark target seeker in air-to-air missiles.[2] The Army used Lark components investigating guidance options for the MGM-18 Lacrosse surface-to-surface missile. Changing roles during a period of changing nomenclature created a confusing number of designations for Lark. Fairchild production was identified as KAQ, SAM-N-2, and CTV-N-9. Convair production was identified as KAY, SAM-N-4, and CTV-N-10. Army test versions were designated RV-A-22.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Lark". Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. 
  2. ^ a b c d Peck, Merton J. & Scherer, Frederic M. The Weapons Acquisition Process: An Economic Analysis (1962) Harvard Business School pp.232-233&659
  3. ^ a b c "SAM-N-2/SAM-N-4". Andreas Parsch. Retrieved 2013-04-17. 
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