This page no longer updated from 31 October 2001. Latest version can be found at R-3A

R-3A Conjectural
R-3A Conjectural - Conjectural drawing of the R-3A. The actual configuration has never been released, but it seems to have been a conical body as recommended by Groettrup equipped with an R-2 engine. This configuration would lead directly to the R-7 ICBM and N1 superbooster

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Family: Early Russian Ballistic Missiles. Country: USSR. Status: Cancelled 1951. Article Number: 8A63.

So much new technology was involved for the R-3 that it was deemed necessary to build an R-3A intermediate experimental rocket, based on the R-2. This would be flown to test new construction methods, guidance systems, and high energy propellants. The R-3A was specified in 1949 to have a 900 to 1000 km range with a payload of 1530 kg; an unfuelled mass of 4100 kg; 20,500 kg of propellants; and a lift-off thrust of 40 tonnes. The R-3A could also serve as a prototype for a more modest IRBM. Flight tests of the R-3A were scheduled for October 1951.

The R-3 itself was cancelled when difficulties were encountered in engine development and the decision was made to proceed directly to the R-7 ICBM. During its development the range of the R-3A had settled on 935 km with only a 500 kg payload. It was cancelled in October 1951 without ever flying, with the technology being applied to the R-5 and R-11 missiles. The Russians have been very reluctant to reveal the configuration of the R-3A. It seems likely that it was actually a subscale version of Groettrup's G-4 design, and formed the technical basis for both the R-7 ICBM and N1 super launch vehicle.


Payload: 500 kg. to a: 935 km range trajectory. Liftoff Thrust: 40,000 kgf. Total Mass: 23,400 kg.

R-3A Chronology

1949 Dec 7 -
1951 Oct 20 -


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Last update 12 March 2001.
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