The early days of the Cold War saw the US military establishment obsessed with two major themes in weapons- nuclear weapons, and guided missiles. And an early attempt at combining the two was the now almost forgotten Rascal standoff nuclear missile.
Developed by Bell to deliver a nuclear warhead 100 miles from the launch point, the Rascal was a massive missile. It was also to ambitious for the state of the art, and by the time it entered into production, the decision had been made to abandon it.
Early missile programs went through an array of various schemes of nomenclature, but we’ll stick to the final one, the GAM-63.
Powered by a three chamber liquid fueled rocket, the Rascal would climb from its launch altitude of roughly 40,000 feet to a cruise altitude of about 50,000 feet. Two of the rocket chambers would shut down, and the third would sustain the Rascal at a speed of about 1200 miles per hour. About 20 miles out from the target, the Rascal would nose over into a terminal dive.
The Rascal had a pretty interesting guidance system. It had a radar in its nose. That radar would send video of its radar system via radio to the launching bomber. Having launched, the bomber would turn away, and a retractable receiver antenna in its aft fuselage would pick up the signal, and display it to the bombardier. The bombardier would would then radio steering commands to the missile. As the missile got closer to the target, the better the radar display was, theoretically improving accuracy throughout the flight.
In practice, the Rascal was a mess. Liquid rockets were still very delicate instuments and had a high failure rate. The complex guidance system was unreliable, and was vulnerable to jamming.
There was also a disagreement over which type bomber should carry Rascal. The Air Force first wanted it for the B-29, then the B-50, then the B-36, and finally, the B-47. Strategic Air Command, who never seemed terribly enthusiastic about a weapon Air Force headquarters insisted on, wanted first to arm the B-50, and then the B-36, but not the B-47.
By the time the missile was almost ready for deployment, the B-52 was in service, along with its own standoff weapon, the jet powered Hound Dog missile (AGM-28) with similar speed, but with a 500 mile range, and a simpler, more accurate inertial navigation system.