This rare Convair promotional film details the testing and development of the Lobber, a surface-to-surface cargo missile developed during the mid 1950s for use by the United States Army. Intended to deliver supplies to troops in combat, it was successfully tested, but for various reasons failed to go into production.
The history of this missile is interesting, Inspired by the use of artillery shells to resupply surrounded troops during the Battle of the Bulge (and probably also by air-dropped containers used by both sides in WWII), a contract for the development of a cargo missile was awarded to Convair in 1958 by the U.S. Army.Developed by a team led by Bill Chana, the missile was capable of delivering 50 pounds (23 kg) of cargo over a distance of approximately 8 miles (13 km); once the rocket motor burned out, a parachute was deployed to deliver the cargo. A portable, mortar-like launcher was used; it allowed for a three-man team to transport and fire the missile; Lobber was described as being able to reliably hit a target “within the length of a football field” and was expected to cost less than $1,000 USD per round. It was proposed that modular cargo sections be pre-packaged with supplies, with nose and tail sections attached to the needed section just before launch.
As the film shows, the first test launch took place in December 1958 at Camp Irwin in California, and the system worked well although the parachute failed to deploy properly. Additional flight testing proved highly successful, and Convair proposed mortar variants with explosive, chemical, and nuclear warheads; the United States Marine Corps also considered adopting the missile, and it was also proposed to develop a variant for anti-submarine warfare usage by the United States Navy. Larger variants were also proposed, as well as civilian usage for firefighting. However the inherent inaccuracy of the unguided, solid-fueled rocket, combined with logistical issues and the fact that supply by air was both reasonably accurate, cheaper, and comparatively reliable, meant that Lobber was not adopted for service.
Designer William F. Chana played an active role in flight testing XB-24 and XB-32 WWII bombers. XC-99 – world’s largest landplane, XF-92A – world’s first delta wing airplane, XFY-1 POGO – world’s first vertical take-off and landing airplane. XF2Y-1 Seadart – world’s only supersonic seaplane, and Convair airliners. He was Convair’s Base Manager for the Installation and Checkout of Atlas Missles at Fairchild AFB, Washington.
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com
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