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This Smithsonian Institution SAM-N-2 Lark missile is one of the various prototypes used to develop early United States guided missiles.
Type Surface-to-air missile
Place of origin United States
Production history
Manufacturer Fairchild Aircraft
Produced 1946-1950
Weight 920 kilograms (2,030 lb)
missile: 550 kilograms (1,210 lb)[1]
booster: 370 kilograms (820 lb)
Length 18 feet 6 inches (5.64 m)
missile: 13 feet 11 inches (4.24 m)
booster: 4 feet 7 inches (1.40 m)
Diameter 18 inches (46 cm)[1]

Warhead 100 pounds (45 kg) high explosive warhead
proximity fuze

Engine Stage1: solid-fueled rocket booster,
Stage2: liquid-fueled rocket
Wingspan 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m)[1]
55 kilometres (34 mi)
Speed Mach 0.85
initially radio command
USS Norton Sound (AVM-1)

The Lark project was a high-priority, solid-fuel boosted, liquid-fueled rocket surface-to-air missile developed by the United States Navy to meet the kamikaze threat.[2] After Lark configuration was established by the Bureau of Aeronautics in January 1945 Fairchild Aircraft was given a contract to produce 100 missiles in March 1945. Fairchild used radio command guidance with a semi-active radar homing AN/DPN-7. A backup contract for another 100 missiles was given to Convair in June 1945. Convair used beam riding guidance with AN/APN-23 active radar homing.[3] Neither version was successful. Six of the Convair airframes were given to Raytheon to explore use of velocity-gated continuous wave doppler radar for guided missile target seekers, while most other United States investigators used range-gated pulse radar. One of these Raytheon guidance systems in a Convair airframe scored the first successful United States surface-to-air missile interception of a flying target in January 1950.[2]

Early guided missile development

The Lark never proceeded past the prototype stage. Further Lark development was halted by the Bureau of Ordnance in late 1950 in favor of the RIM-2 Terrier being developed by Operation Bumblebee. A subsonic missile was of doubtful use against anticipated supersonic targets; but three successful Lark interceptions by the Raytheon guidance system[2] generated interest within the Army and Air Force. Modified Larks were used for guidance system development testing by all three services through the early 1950s.[3] The Bureau of Aeronautics Sparrow program began in 1950 using the Lark target seeker in air-to-air missiles.[2] The Army used Lark components investigating guidance options for the MGM-18 Lacrosse surface-to-surface missile. Changing roles during a period of changing nomenclature created a confusing number of designations for Lark. Fairchild production was identified as KAQ, SAM-N-2, and CTV-N-9. Convair production was identified as KAY, SAM-N-4, and CTV-N-10. Army test versions were designated RV-A-22.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Lark". Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Peck, Merton J. & Scherer, Frederic M. The Weapons Acquisition Process: An Economic Analysis (1962) Harvard Business School pp.232-233&659
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "SAM-N-2/SAM-N-4". Andreas Parsch. Retrieved 2013-04-17. 

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