Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Copyright © 2001 Andreas Parsch

General Dynamics (Convair) RIM-24 Tartar

The Tartar was a short/medium-range surface-to-air missile, essentially a SAM-N-7 Terrier HT-3 without the booster stage. Studies to replace Terrier's beam-riding guidance system with a semi-active radar homing system began as early as 1951. SARH guidance would make the missile effective against low-flying targets. Another requirement was to provide a more compact missile system for smaller ships. These goals could be reached by using a tail-controlled Terrier missile with a new radar-honing seeker. The development contract for the Tartar missile was finally awarded in 1955. Interestingly, the Tartar did not receive any SAM-N-n designation, but was known as Missile MK 15 only.

The first full Tartar prototype flew in 1958, and after a lengthy and difficult evaluation period, Tartar was declared operational in 1962. In 1963, the basic Tartar missile was designated as RIM-24A. The RIM-24A had an Aerojet MK 1 end-burning dual-thrust solid-fuel rocket motor. It was effective against targets flying at altitudes between 15 and 15000 m (50 to 50000 ft), at a range between 1.8 and 14 km (2000 yds to 7.5 nm).

Photo: Hank Morris, USS Norton Sound

The RIM-24B Improved Tartar had a new seeker, an electronically instead of mechanically scanned radar, and a warhead with better lethality. It also used a new rocket motor, which increased maximum altitude and range to 20000 m (65000 ft) and 30 km (16 nm), respectively. The RIM-24B was produced between 1961 and 1963.

Many missiles were modified under TRIP (Tartar Reliability Improvement Program) program, and were designated as RIM-24C. They had solid-state electronics, improved ECCM, and multiple-target capability. RIM-24C was also known as ITR (Improved Tartar Retrofit). Slight weight reductions increased the maximum range of late-model Tartars to about 32 km (17.5 nm). All Tartar missiles had a viable surface-to-surface capability, with an effective range of about 18 km (20000 yds).

Photo: U.S. Navy
RIM-24B/C (exact model unknown)

About 2400 RIM-24 missiles of all versions were produced. In U.S. Navy service, the Tartar was replaced by the RIM-66 Standard MR missile.


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for RIM-24B (except where noted):

Length4.72 m (15 ft 6 in); RIM-24A: 4.60 m (15 ft 1 in)
Wingspan0.61 m (24 in)
Finspan1.07 m (42.3 in)
Diameter0.34 m (13.5 in)
Weight590 kg (1310 lb); RIM-24A: 580 kg (1280 lb)
SpeedMach 1.8
Ceiling20000 m (65000 ft); RIM-24A: 15000 m (50000 ft)
Range30 km (16 nm); RIM-24A: 14 km (7.5 nm)
PropulsionMK 27 solid-fueled dual-thrust (boost/sustain) rocket motor
Warhead60 kg (130 lb) continuous-rod HE warhead

Main Sources

[1] Norman Friedman: "US Naval Weapons", Conway Maritime Press, 1983
[2] Bill Gunston: "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rockets and Missiles", Salamander Books Ltd, 1979

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Last Updated: 2 October 2001