GARGOYLE

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The US Navy’s (USN) experiments with glide weapons were even more obscure than those of the Army Air Force’s, with one prominent exception.

The Navy experimented with “Bomb Gliders” of their own, which like the USAAF’s weapons appear to have been unpowered drones, as well as an infrared-homing guided bomb named “Dove” that seems to have been similar to the USAAF’s VB series. Details of these weapons are unclear.

The Navy also worked on a rocket-boosted glide weapon named the “Gargoyle”, with the initial designation of “LBD-1”, later changed to “KSD-1”. The Gargoyle was conceptually similar to the Hs-293 and in fact seems to have been inspired by it. McDonnell? was awarded a contract for five Gargoyle prototypes and 395 production missiles in September 1944. The Gargoyle carried a 450 kilogram (1,000 pound) armor-piercing bomb, built into a smoothly curved airframe with low-mounted rounded-tip wings and a vee tail. Length was 3 meters (9 feet 10 inches), wingspan was 2.6 meters (8 feet 6 inches), and total weight was 748 kilograms (1,650 pounds).

The Gargoyle was intended for launch by carrier-based strike aircraft, though apparently it was also considered for surface launch by RATO booster or catapult system. The missile had a solid rocket unit built into the tail to give it a launch boost, and was guided visually by an operator using a joystick connected to a radio link. As with the Hs-293, the Gargoyle had flares in its tail to allow the operator to track it.

Fourteen flight tests were performed from October 1944 through July 1945. The end of the war robbed the program of momentum, though test flights continued into 1947. The weapon was redesignated “RTV-2” in that year and then “RTV-N-2” in 1948, but by that time the effort was almost completely dead. There was some consideration after that of using the Gargoyle airframes as targets, but the program was formally axed in 1950