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R-11 Cutaway
R-11 Cutaway -

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Family: Early Russian Ballistic Missiles. Country: Russia. Status: Hardware. Department of Defence Designation: SS-1. ASCC Reporting Name: Scud. Article Number: 8A61.

First Russian ballistic missile using storable propellants. Enlargement/elaboration of German Wasserfall SAM. Developed by Korolev OKB, then Makeyev OKB spun off to develop Army and SLBM derivatives. Range 270 km with 690 kg, accuracy 1.5 km/0.75 km. Maximum altitude 78 km. Time of flight 5.4 minutes. Max velocity at burnout 1430 m/s.

The R-11 originated as Theme N-2 of the R-3 IRBM project. This was an alternate approach to delivering nuclear warheads on West European targets - a road-mobile missile of shorter range that could be set up at the forward area of the battlefield and reach enemy targets. A submarine-launched version would allow all of the major cities of Western Europe to be reached. The specification was for a missile of the range and payload of the German V-2, but of less than half the size, using non-cryogenic propellants.

The R-11 design adapted the Isayev rocket engine used in the V-300 / R-101 antiaircraft missile (itself a Russian-built version of the German Wasserfall). Following the decision to drop the R-3A, a 20 October 1951 MOP decree authorised work to start on the R-5 and R-11. Due to the extensive work already done under the Theme N-2, the 8 volume R-11 draft project was delivered on 30 November 1951. Korolev did not agree with the production of rockets using the R-11's toxic storable propellants, and project leader Viktor Petrovich Makeyev had to persevere in developing the rocket without his boss' support.

The first test flight was made on 18 April 1953. Massive problems were encountered in the difficult test series - with poor-quality kerosene fuel, handling and leakage of the propellants, and reliable start of the engine. But the Red Army saw much more promise in the design than in Korolev's cumbersome liquid oxygen rockets. A government decree was issued on 13 December 1953 for SKB-385 in the Urals to be responsible for series production of the R-11 and its S2.253 engine. SKB-385 had not distinguished itself in 1949-1951 when it was responsible for the first abortive attempt to put the R-1 rocket into production.

Following a protracted two-year test series, the design was finally accepted for military service on 13 July 1955. In anticipation of this formal decree, in June of 1955 Makeyev was made Chief Designer at SKB-385, responsible for engineering of the R-11 and future small land and sea based ballistic missiles. SKB-385 was given complete responsibility for development of the sub-launched R-11FM in August 1955.

Tests of the R-11FM had begun in February 1955 at Kapustin Yar with three experimental launches of the missile from a standard R-11 launch stand. This was followed by launches from a special stand simulating a ship's motion, developed by A P Abramov. Finally a third test series was conducted from the Project 611 submarine B-57 from 16 September to 13 October 1955 in the White Sea. This demonstrated launches from a pitching surfaced vessel and a total range of 150 km. Following further trials the system was accepted for military surface in 1959, but never deployed on an operational vessel. However the project had cemented Makeyev's relationship with the Soviet Navy, which decided to make him their sole source for all future naval ballistic missiles.

Meanwhile Makeyev had moved quickly to redesign the R-11 to remedy all of the basic defects identified in the trials. This included a new, less troublesome, higher performance propellant combination. The state authorised work to begin on the R-11M missile on 26 August 1954. This was followed by the first launch on 30 December 1955 and acceptance of the design for service on 1 April 1958.

The final refinement of the R-11 design was the R-17, to be exported and infamous around the world as the Scud-B. In 1958-1959 Makeyev designed and built the first mock-up of the new missile. But by then the decision was made to devote the bureau to sea-launched missiles, and in 1959 the program was transferred to Votkinsk Machine Building Plant. There design work continued with first launch in 1961 and acceptance into military service in 1964.


Liftoff Thrust: 8,300 kgf. Total Mass: 4,660 kg. Core Diameter: 0.9 m. Total Length: 9.0 m.

R-11 Chronology

- 1949 June -
1949 Dec 7 -
1951 Oct 20 -
1951 Nov 30 -
1953 Feb 13 -
1953 Apr 18 -
1953 Dec 13 -
1954 Jul 13 -
1954 Aug 26 -
1955 Jul 13 -
1956 Jul 11 -
1958 Apr 1 -


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Last update 12 March 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .