"USS Growler with a Regulus pointed at Manhattan" - Daily Photo - 05/16/13
Wish the sky was nicer, but the angle with the nuke pointed at the city ready for launch and the storage hatch up ... couldn't resist!
As the Cold War intensified in the decade following World War II, and particularly with the Soviet Union’s success in matching the United States in developing atomic weapons, nuclear deterrence became a key element of global diplomacy. By the early 1950s, both superpowers had deployed large manned bomber forces capable of reaching each other’s homelands with either forward basing or aerial refueling, and additionally, the United States had begun to deploy atomic weapons on aircraft carriers.
Both sides were also quick to take advantage of captured German V-1 and V-2 technology from World War II to begin development of both guided and ballistic missiles for tactical and strategic use, with the U.S. Army initially taking the lead in the United States. Not to be out-done, the U.S. Navy converted two World War II fleet boats, USS Carbonero (SS-337) and USS Cusk (SS-348) to carry a U.S. variant of the German V-1 pulse-jet missile, known as the Loon, first launched at sea in February 1947. Loon’s nominal range under command guidance was approximately 50 nautical miles, but using a second submarine as a relay, it could be effective out to 135 nautical miles, with a reported Circular Error Probable (CEP) of 6,000 yards.
By this time, the Navy had also let development contracts for two more ambitious bombardment missiles, the supersonic Grumman Rigel (SSM-N-6) and the subsonic Chance-Vought Regulus (SSM-N-8), each intended to carry a 3,000 pound warhead for 500 nautical miles. Although Rigel fell by the wayside in 1953, Regulus was successfully developed into America’s first sea-going nuclear deterrent and was first deployed on the heavy cruiser USS Los Angeles (CA-135) in 1955. Eventually, five submarines were fitted to carry and launch Regulus also, and they became the principal deterrent force.
The Regulus I missile itself was essentially a small turbojet aircraft, 42 feet long, with a wingspan of 21 feet. Gross launch weight was just under seven tons, including a ton of fuel, and its Allison J33-A-14 engine could propel the missile to Mach 0.91 (about 550 knots). Regulus was launched from an inclined ramp – later trainable – and it required two 3,300 pound-thrust Jet Assisted Take-Off (JATO) units to get up to speed. The weapon was command-guided, initially out to the radar horizon by superimposing steering commands onto the launch platform’s tracking radar waveform, and then by using a relay submarine nearer the target to track and steer the missile to the final aim point. Either a 40-50 kiloton nuclear warhead or a 1-2 megaton thermonuclear device could be carried.